Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Science




Gilliland, Jason A.


Household food insecurity is experienced by one in every eight Canadians. Food insecurity is primarily driven by low-income and often accompanied by negative physical and mental health outcomes. Across the country, food banks attempt to provide local communities with an emergency food option and have become institutionalized. In rural areas, transportation and access to affordable food can be a challenge. The experience of household food insecurity in rural settings has predominantly been left out of the literature. The perspectives of those living in rural households, who access food banks and experience food insecurity, are explored using qualitative thematic and content analysis methods. The results reveal a complex experience, including strategies, skills, external support, and a diverse set of compounding stressors. Taking an ecological systems perspective, change is required at multiple levels of the environment, from improved food bank practices to broad policy change. Future research must consider diverse rural voices.

Summary for Lay Audience

Many Canadians live without access to enough, nutritious food for a healthy life, usually due to having a low income. This can lead to social, physical, and emotional issues. Food banks have become a major source of ongoing relief for many. People who live in rural areas have less food options and often need to travel further to get food. It is important to understand what life is like for those living with household food insecurity. This research uses data from focus groups that were carried out in Huron County, Ontario, Canada to understand this experience. Results reveal that people in rural places, who cannot afford food, rely on many different strategies and forms of assistance to get by. Food banks are a great service in these communities but could be better. These findings call for action to be taken by food banks, communities, organizations, governments, and researchers.