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The experiences of people with disabilities who are on persons with disability benefits with regard to food security Gerbrandt, Julieta Seylette

Abstract

Adequate food security is achieved when “food is obtained in a manner that upholds human dignity; food is safe, nutritionally adequate, personally and culturally acceptable; food is sufficient in quality and quantity to sustain healthy growth and development and to prevent illness and disease” (Community Nutritionists Council of BC, 2004, p. 3). Many adults with disabilities are unemployed due to their chronic condition and require the receipt of government sponsored disability benefits. They face unique challenges in sustaining their health and are at higher risk for food insecurity. The purpose of this research was to describe the experiences of people on Persons with Disability (PWD) benefits with regard to attaining adequate food security. Qualitative inquiry was the central defining methodological feature of this research. The data were derived from 16 face-to-face semi-structured interviews. All participants were adults who were currently receiving PWD benefits and living alone (non-institutionalized) in Vancouver, British Columbia. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and analyzed using constant comparative analysis. The three major factors that affected the food security of the participants were 1) living with a low income, 2) living with a disability and 3) living with psychosocial issues. These three factors prevented most of the participants from attaining adequate food security at some level. Those without subsidized housing and with disabilities that affected mobility and energy were worse off in terms of attaining adequate food security. The results of this study will help decision makers and service providers to understand the multiplicity and complexity of factors that are pertinent in addressing food security issues for people on PWD.

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