Perception of needs and responses in food security: divergence between households and stakeholders

Public Health Nutr. 2008 Dec;11(12):1389-96. doi: 10.1017/S1368980008003406. Epub 2008 Sep 2.


Objectives: The aim of the study was (i) to describe the needs of food-insecure households and their assessment of community programmes, as expressed by households and perceived by stakeholders; and (ii) to examine the similarities and differences between households' and stakeholders' perceptions in Quebec City area.

Design/setting/subjects: A semi-structured interview and sociodemographic questionnaire with fifty-five households and fifty-nine stakeholders (community workers, managers, donor agencies). The transcriptions were subjected to content analysis and inter-coder reliability measurement.

Results: The respondents' perceptions converge towards three main categories of needs: needs specific to food security, conditions necessary for achieving food security and related needs. There was agreement on the necessity of better financial resources, although the impact of financial resources alone may be uncertain in the opinion of some stakeholders. Different perceptions of needs and of their fulfilment by community programmes emerge between both groups. Despite households found positive aspects, they complained that quality of food and access were major needs neglected. Their account suggests overall a partial fit between the programmes and food security needs; even a combination of programmes (e.g. collective kitchens, purchasing groups, community gardens) was insufficient to adequately meet these needs. In contrast, most stakeholders perceived that the household's primary need was a basic amount of food and that the households were satisfied with programmes.

Conclusions: It is urgent to evaluate the overall effect of community programmes on specific aspects of household food insecurity. The results emphasise that community programmes alone cannot bring about social change needed to prevent food insecurity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Food / standards*
  • Food Supply / economics
  • Food Supply / standards*
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Perception
  • Poverty*
  • Public Assistance
  • Quebec
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult