Toward Inclusion: Researching Food as Harm Reduction in an Urban Foodscape

October 18, 2016  • Posted in Member Publications  •  0 Comments

Authors: Christiana Miewald (a), Sean Grieve (b), Alison McIntosh (a), Eugene McCann (a), Cristina Temenos (c), and Megan Woodward (b)

a: Dept. of Geography, Simon Fraser University
b: Dr. Peter Centre, Vancouver
c: Dept. of Geography, University of Manchester

People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) who also use illicit drugs may put themselves at risk of physical, psychological, and structural violence by visiting unsafe places in order to access food, housing, and other resources. Conversely, spaces of care where people feel supported may offer safety, community, and inclusion. Yet, the types of programs these places offer are only temporary solutions to problems caused by health and economic policies that hinder efforts to improve the lives of PLWHA who use drugs. Based in Vancouver, BC, Food as Harm Reduction: Documenting the Health Effects of Food Provision for People Who Use Drugs (FaHR) is a collaborative research project that explores the role food provision may have for reducing the harms associated with drug use, and to propose ways of integrating food into a harm reduction framework. It has been designed as a community-based research (CBR) project in order to address the social marginalization faced by PLWHA who use drugs and provide them with a voice through critical praxis-oriented research.

In this chapter, which has been co-authored by the academic and peer researchers involved in the FaHR project, we consider not only the structural barriers that may limit the ability of municipal policies to promote inclusivity in planning for food security or harm reduction drug policies, but we also reflect on our experiences of designing a research project that promotes inclusivity through community partnership and the use of peer research associates (PRAs). In this spirit, the authorial voice shifts throughout this chapter, straying, though not entirely departing, from the traditional academic writing model. We have deliberately employed this strategy to stress the central role of the PRAs in the project’s research design and execution.

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