An ethnography of food banks in Winnipeg : organizations as adaptations to poverty and hunger

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Nikou, George
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This thesis, An Ethnography of Food Banks in Winnipeg: Organizations as Adaptations to Poverty and Hunger, attempts to address the problems of poverty and hunger in Canada, specifically in the city of Winnipeg. This thesis is a study that goes beyond simple descriptions of activities and events and attempts to demonstrate how food banks have become adaptations to poverty and hunger. Using various Winnipeg food banks as case examples, this thesis analyzes how food banks supplement individuals' and families' infrequent or sporadic abilities to access the supermarket, which is the dominant form of food distribution in this country. As an ethnography it will try and provide a holistic view of food banks and the experiences and reactions of the various of groups and individuals to the problems of poverty and hunger. The methodologies used in this thesis are: participant observation, a survey of a small sample of food bank clients conducted at the front-line food banks, and interviews with key informants. These charitable organizations have developed and become established over the last twenty years and have become a necessity to many people, especially those who are long time recipients of welfare. Furthermore, it can be argued that food banks have become an unofficial extension of the welfare system in Winnipeg and Canada. Food banks have become a supplementary form of food distribution, a way to alleviate unnecessary hunger for those who are poor, in a wealthy country such as Canada. Thus, the people who establish food banks and those who make use of them are adapting to the problems that occur in many stratified societies, in this case procuring food from an alternative form of distribution to alleviate hunger.