Exploring the Experiences of Frontline Food Security Service Providers in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Barnett, B. Mackenzie
Master of Arts
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
MetadataShow full item record
In Canada, staggering rates of household food insecurity are emblematic of broader issues, such as systemic discrimination, poverty, and a global, capitalist food system. The means to address food insecurity are contested within the nation. For example, community-based programs (e.g., food banks), continue to be common, despite concerns that they may induce shame and guilt in those who access them and fail to address the root causes of the issue. Despite this, some authors have argued that such spaces may offer transformational potential to bring community members together in-common across class divides in the meantime. Limited research exists on the experiences of frontline food security service providers, and more specifically on how they conceptualize their work. In this thesis, semi-structured interviews and photovoice were used, following an interpretive phenomenological design. Specifically, I sought to explore how frontline food security service providers in Thunder Bay experienced their work, and the interactions between their intrapsychic factors and processes, organizational practices and their visions for the future of their work. Three superordinate themes emerged, demonstrating that participants were thinking about broad issues (e.g., poverty, racism), found tensions in the role of lived experience (e.g., as both a motivation to come to the work and a risk factor for burnout), and saw their role as care work underscored by shared values. The findings also highlight the importance of an interactional approach, exploring how an individual's early life experiences, values and sense of self, alongside organizational factors and others in the field, worked in concert to create their experience. While this work does not intend to make broad claims about the experience of all food security service providers, it highlights some of the voices in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and the opportunities they have in transforming food access to be more just and equitable for all.