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Researchers will examine the impact of Hamilton Food Share

Sep 11, 2018
Guylaine Spencer

Olive Wahoush

Photo above: Dr. Olive Wahoush

In the past year, food bank use has gone up in Hamilton, not down.

It’s a disturbing trend, and it raises one of several questions that researchers will consider in a new study called Hamilton Food Share: An impact analysis.

Dr. Olive Wahoush, an associate professor in the School of Nursing, is leading the project, which is funded by a $25,000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Engage grant for one year.

“This grant will enable us to work with a graduate student and Hamilton Food Share,” Wahoush notes.

She describes Hamilton Food Share as “a non-governmental organization that collects food on a large scale and distributes it across an extensive network of food banks and other food support services throughout the Hamilton region.” Together the network helps support 12,000 individuals, or about 8,500 families. In addition to supplying food, Hamilton Food Share connects people to other services they might need, such as housing support, mental health services, etc. 

Some of the questions researchers will be asking are: What is the agency doing well?  Which areas might be improved? What are the features of the populations who are with them for a very long time? And what are the key factors that help people become independent of the food bank support system?

Hamilton Food Share is highly regarded in terms of the information they collect, Wahoush notes. “They gather data from people who are registering for their services – information about health conditions, what sort of benefits people are on, what their total sources of income are, etc.” The researchers will analyse this data to discover the impact of Hamilton Food Share on the communities they serve and look for emerging trends.

Nurses are well placed to do this research, says Wahoush, because a study like this deals with social determinants of health, which means the wide range of issues that shape (or determine) health. These include income, environment, stress, etc. “I think nurses are well placed in terms of our communication skills. We have a strong focus on community health broadly in our undergraduate program,” she notes. “We are looking forward to examining the stories we can derive from the data. We have a strong research team with Dr  Stephanie Baker Collins from Social work; Laura Banfield an Information specialist and librarian; experts from Hamilton Food Share, Celeste Taylor, Manager of resources Hamilton Food Share and Joanne Santucci, Executive Director Hamilton Food Share."

Grant details:

Wahoush O, Taylor C, Banfield L, Baker Collins S. In partnership with Hamilton Food Share. Hamilton Food Share: An impact analysis. SSRC. $25,000. 2018-19.


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