This paper contrasts the perceptions of Canadians who are food-secure with the perceptions of Canadians who are food-insecure through the different meanings that they ascribe to a popular food product known as Kraft Dinner®. Data sources included individual interviews, focus group interviews, and newspaper articles. Our thematic analysis shows that food-secure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with comfort, while food-insecure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with discomfort. These differences in perspective partly stem from the fact that Kraft Dinner® consumption by food-secure Canadians is voluntary whereas Kraft Dinner® consumption by food-insecure Canadians frequently is obligatory. These differences are magnified by the fact that food-insecure individuals are frequently obliged to consume Kraft Dinner® that has been prepared without milk, a fact that is outside the experience of, and unappreciated by, people who are food-secure. The food-secure perspective influences responses to food insecurity, as Kraft Dinner® is commonly donated by food-secure people to food banks and other food relief projects. Ignorance among food-secure people of what it is like to be food-insecure, we conclude, partly accounts for the perpetuation of local food charity as the dominant response to food insecurity in Canada.
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We thank the people who participated in our studies for sharing their experiences and insights, and we thank Harvey James, Nancy Grudens–Schuck and two anonymous reviewers for commenting on a previous version of this manuscript. We also thank our funders: the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR PHI-200600378); the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR 200609MSH-167158, CIHR/CHSRF PDA-0080-05); the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CIHR/CHSRF PDA-0080-05); the CIHR/CHSRF Chair in Community Approaches and Health Inequalities held by Dr. Louise Potvin at the Université de Montréal (CIHR/CHSRF/FRSQ CP1-0526-05); the Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary; the Institute of Health Economics (IHE-197); the National Health Research and Development Program (NHRDP No. 6603-1550-002); the Public Health Services, Capital District Health Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the Dairy Farmers of Canada Open Operating Grants competition.
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Rock, M., McIntyre, L. & Rondeau, K. Discomforting comfort foods: stirring the pot on Kraft Dinner® and social inequality in Canada. Agric Hum Values 26, 167–176 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-008-9153-x