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Can J Public Health. 1999 May-Jun;90(3):196-200.

Children's feeding programs in Atlantic Canada: reducing or reproducing inequities?

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Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.


This study analyzed, through case studies of day-to-day observations and interviews with recipients and operators, the operations of nine children's feeding programs in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland. We found that children's feeding programs result in the stigmatization of participants and families, despite an ideology of equality. Most programs adopt a family substitution role in the lives of children they serve and function in a way that excludes parental participation. Programs also transmit a hidden curriculum to children that teaches them how to behave and how a 'proper' family functions. We found that the professionalization of food and nutrition, a desire for an expanded client base, and dependency creation through the provision of other material goods, permit programs to exert increasing institutional control over recipients, a process we, following Illich, call the dragnet. While these programs may be meeting some nutritional needs in a few poverty-stricken children, they ultimately reproduce, rather than reduce, inequities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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