Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Supplement 1, pp eS53–eS59 | Cite as

Exploring experiences of the food environment among immigrants living in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario

  • Paulina I. Rodriguez
  • Jennifer DeanEmail author
  • Sharon Kirkpatrick
  • Lisbeth Berbary
  • Steffanie Scott
Qualitative Research


OBJECTIVES: This exploratory study aimed to shed light on the role of the food environment in shaping food access among immigrants living in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario.

METHODS: In this qualitative case study, in-depth interviews aided by photovoice were conducted with nine immigrants, and key informant (KI) interviews were conducted with nine community stakeholders (e.g., settlement workers, planners) who held expert knowledge of the local context with respect to both the food system and experiences of immigrants in interacting with this system. In this paper, we focus specifically on insights related to the food environment, applying the Analysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity Framework to assess economic, physical, socio-cultural and political aspects.

RESULTS: Economic features of the food environment, including food prices and differential costs of different types of food, emerged as factors related to food access. However, interactions with the food environment were shaped by broader economic factors, such as limited employment opportunities and low income. Most immigrants felt that they had good geographic access to food, though KIs expressed concerns about the types of outlet and food that were most accessible. Immigrants discussed social networks and cultural food practices, whereas KIs discussed political issues related to supporting food security in the Region.

CONCLUSION: This exploratory case study is consistent with prior research in highlighting the economic constraints within which food access exists but suggests that there may be a need to further dissect food environments.

Key Words

Food supply emigrants and immigrants food intake environment refugees immigrant 


OBJECTIFS : Cette étude préliminaire visait à faire la lumière sur le rôle de l’environnement alimentaire dans l’accès aux aliments des immigrants vivant dans la Région de Waterloo, Ontario.

MÉTHODE : Dans cette étude de cas qualitative, des entretiens en profondeur aidés par Photovoice ont été menés auprès de neuf immigrants; des entretiens avec des informateurs ont aussi été menés auprès de neuf acteurs communautaires (p. ex., travailleurs en services d’établissement, planificateurs) possédant une connaissance approfondie du contexte local en ce qui a trait à la fois au système alimentaire et aux expériences des immigrants par rapport à ce système. Dans cet article, nous traitons spécifiquement des idées liées à l’environnement alimentaire en appliquant le cadre ANGELO (Analysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity) pour évaluer les aspects économiques, physiques, socioculturels et politiques.

RÉSULTATS : Les caractéristiques économiques de l’environnement alimentaire, dont le prix des aliments et les coûts différentiels de divers types d’aliments, se sont avérés être des facteurs liés à l’accès aux aliments. Toutefois, les interactions avec l’environnement alimentaire étaient influencées par des facteurs économiques plus généraux, comme les occasions d’emploi limitées et les faibles revenus. La plupart des immigrants considéraient qu’ils avaient un bon accès géographique aux aliments, mais les informateurs ont exprimé des préoccupations quant aux types d’établissements et aux aliments qui étaient les plus accessibles. Les immigrants ont discuté de réseaux sociaux et de pratiques alimentaires culturelles, tandis que les informateurs ont discuté des enjeux politiques liés au soutien de la sécurité alimentaire dans la Région.

CONCLUSION : Comme la recherche antérieure, cette étude de cas exploratoire souligne les contraintes économiques dans lesquelles l’accès aux aliments existe, mais elle suggère aussi qu’il pourrait être nécessaire de disséquer davantage les environnements alimentaires.

Mots Clés

approvisionnement en nourriture émigrants et immigrants ration alimentaire environnement réfugiés immigrant 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulina I. Rodriguez
    • 1
  • Jennifer Dean
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sharon Kirkpatrick
    • 2
  • Lisbeth Berbary
    • 3
  • Steffanie Scott
    • 4
  1. 1.School of PlanningUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.School of Public Health and Health SystemsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Recreation and Leisure StudiesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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