‘Sustainable’ Rather than ‘subsistence’ food assistance solutions to food insecurity: South Australian recipients’ perspectives on traditional and social enterprise models
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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. South Australian (SA) food charity recipients’ perspectives were sought on existing services and ideas for improvement of food assistance models to address food insecurity. Seven focus groups were conducted between October and November 2017 with 54 adults. Thematically analysed data revealed five themes: (1) Emotional cost and consequences of seeking food relief; (2) Dissatisfaction with inaccessible services and inappropriate food; (3) Returning the favour—a desire for reciprocity; (4) Desiring help beyond food; and, (5) “It’s a social thing”, the desire for social interaction and connection. Findings revealed that some aspects of the SA food assistance services were disempowering for recipients. Recipients desired more empowering forms of food assistance that humanise their experience and shift the locus of control and place power back into their hands. Some traditional models, such as provision of supermarket vouchers, empower individuals by fostering autonomy and enabling food choice in socially acceptable ways. Improvement in the quality of existing food assistance models, should focus on recipient informed models which re-dress existing power relations. Services which are more strongly aligned with typical features of social enterprise models were generally favoured over traditional models. Services which are recipient-centred, strive to empower recipients and provide opportunities for active involvement, social connection and broader support were preferred.
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