Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 103, Issue 6, pp e428–e432 | Cite as

Coping With Child Hunger in Canada: Have Household Strategies Changed Over a Decade?

  • Lynn McIntyreEmail author
  • Aaron C. Bartoo
  • Jody Pow
  • Melissa L. Potestio
Quantitative Research


Objective: To determine if household coping strategies for child hunger in Canada have changed over a decade (1996–2007).

Methods: We applied t-tests to data derived from Cycle 2 (1996–1997; n=8165) and Cycle 7 (2006–2007; n=15,961) of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) to determine changes in household coping strategies for child hunger. Data were restricted to households with children aged 2–9 years, allowing for cross-sectional analysis of two independent samples. Logistic regression was employed to estimate the odds of reporting child hunger for socio-demographic characteristics and the odds of using different coping strategies.

Results: The national prevalence of child hunger fell from 1.5% in 1997 to 0.7% in 2007 (p<0.001). The determinants of child hunger (increased child age and household size, lack of home ownership, low household income, lone-parent status, family dysfunction) and hunger frequency (regular versus occasional) were similar in both NLSCY cycles. Utilization of food banks and other community resources as a method of coping with child hunger remained static despite an increase in national food banks/affiliated agencies in Canada (2,141 in 1998 to 3,540 in 2007). In contrast, there was an increased reliance on reducing household food variety, an internal coping mechanism, to manage child hunger (17.6% Cycle 2 to 35.1% Cycle 7; p=0.03).

Conclusion: Community outreach programs between 1997 and 2007 had little impact on coping strategies utilized by households facing child hunger. Our results indicate that current initiatives fail to reach these families.


Objectif: Déterminer si les stratégies d’adaptation des ménages à la faim chez leurs enfants au Canada ont changé sur une période de 10 ans (1996–2007).

Méthode: Nous avons appliqué des tests t aux données dérivées du cycle 2 (1996–1997; n=8 165) et du cycle 7 (2006–2007; n=15 961) de l’Enquête longitudinale nationale sur les enfants et les jeunes (ELNEJ) afin de déterminer les changements dans les stratégies d’adaptation des ménages à la faim chez leurs enfants. Les données ont été limitées aux ménages avec enfants de 2 à 9 ans, ce qui a permis une analyse transversale de deux échantillons indépendants. Par régression logistique, nous avons estimé la probabilité pour les répondants de déclarer la faim chez leurs enfants selon le profil sociodémographique, et la probabilité d’utiliser différentes stratégies d’adaptation.

Résultats: La prévalence nationale de la faim chez les enfants a diminué, passant de 1,5 % en 1997 à 0,7 % en 2007 (p<0,001). Les déterminants de la faim chez les enfants (augmentation de l’âge des enfants et de la taille des ménages, non-propriété, faible revenu des ménages, monoparentalité, dysfonction familiale) et la fréquence de la faim (régulière ou occasionnelle) étaient semblables dans les deux cycles de l’ELNEJ. Le recours aux banques alimentaires et à d’autres ressources communautaires comme méthode d’adaptation à la faim des enfants est demeuré stable malgré l’augmentation du nombre de banques alimentaires nationales et d’organismes affiliés au Canada (2 141 en 1998 contre 3 540 en 2007). Par contre, il y a eu un recours accru à la réduction de la variété dans l’alimentation des ménages - un mécanisme d’adaptation interne - pour composer avec la faim chez les enfants (de 17,6 % au cycle 2 à 35,1 % au cycle 7; p=0,03).

Conclusion: Les programmes d’extension des services à la communauté menés entre 1997 et 2007 ont eu peu d’effet sur les stratégies d’adaptation utilisées par les ménages confrontés à la faim chez leurs enfants. Nos résultats montrent que les initiatives actuelles ne joignent pas ces familles.

Key words

Children hunger food insecurity coping poverty Canada 

Mots clés

enfant faim insécurité alimentaire adaptation pauvreté Canada 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynn McIntyre
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aaron C. Bartoo
    • 1
  • Jody Pow
    • 1
  • Melissa L. Potestio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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