Poster Presentation Joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of NZ and the Nutrition Society of Australia

Food security, access and quality among charitable food programs serving the homeless in the Australian Capital Territory region (#P6)

Sarah E Belton 1 , Maggie Jamieson 1 , Tanya Lawlis 1
  1. University of Canberra, Canberra, 2601, Australia

Background/Aims:  This poster describes the current published literature relating to provision of food by charitable food programs. It focuses on the type food provided and the use of these charitable programs by homeless people.

Methods:  A descriptive exploratory literature review was conducted with papers sought from: Medline, Google Scholar, PubMed Central, and CINAHL, for the period 2000-2015.  Search terms included: homeless nutrition, homeless food charities, homeless diet, food insecurity homeless, and food homeless. Inclusion criteria were papers that involved charitable food provision to the homeless and were published in English

Results: 38 studies met the inclusion criteria. International studies showed that between 63-96% of homeless participants used charitable food services regularly. Barriers to accessing these programs included embarrassment, operation hours, charity environment, crowds, line-ups and religious influences. The programs described limited food access and availability, with a heavy reliance on food donations. Charities reported that demand exceeded supply.

Four international studies reported the nutrient content of charity meals, finding a lack of zinc, vitamin A, magnesium and calcium, yet having excess saturated fat and sodium. These findings raise concern for the long-term health of those homeless people who rely on charitable meals. Studies found a recent hunger-obesity paradox within the homeless population, which increases the likelihood of chronic disease development.

Conclusions: In Australia, research is limited regarding charitable food programs, and how these programs influence the diet and health of the homeless individuals that rely upon charitable services.

Funding Source/s: N/A