On Feb. 18, 2011, Yvonne Hanson presented “Recipes for Hunger: Saskatchewan Women Speak About Food Insecurity”, a webinar for organizations across Canada.

PowerPoint Presentation
Link to Webinar (still available for viewing)

In 2010, Yvonne was the principle investigator for the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence research project entitled, Gender lens on food insecurity: Comparative case studies on women’s health in urban, rural and remote locations in Saskatchewan. The research highlighted resultant health issues facing women who had experienced food insecurity in Saskatchewan. As a means of understanding the depth and scope of food insecurity and its impacts on women’s health, women living in urban and remote (northern) sites in the province were interviewed.

Food insecurity occurs when people can’t afford, access or maintain nutritious food for a healthy diet that is both culturally appropriate and prepared in safe and socially-acceptable ways. The gendered role for women in society - and in particular, their relation to food – has often positioned women at the household level, responsible for purchasing and preparing food. When food insecurity is present the impacts are wide-reaching for physical health and other aspects of mental health and well-being.

The interviews with women ranged from conversations with women in low-income, urban neighbourhoods, a remote First Nations community and with a woman who was financially devastated after a car accident. Some of their comments include:

“The recuperating and the starting over - when does a person have to stop starting over? Because it's been a year since the accident and I'm fighting with the fact that okay, I am going to have a disability for the rest of my life. Not a big one but it's still there and now I have got to learn to cope with that and accept it, which is adding to depression and adds to problems if you are an emotional eater.”

Another woman - a mother – discussed her position on the use of provisional soup kitchens, “The soup kitchens exist for us when we need a meal, but I don’t like going there because there’s always violence. I don’t like to bring my kids there”.

The experiences of food insecurity vary across varying geographies, socio-economic positions and age among women, but the commonalities of women’s experiences with vulnerability, inequity and gendered roles are the research threads that bind.