“Sometimes I feel like I’m counting crackers”: The household foodwork of low-income mothers, and how community food initiatives can support them
For women parenting on low incomes, there is a significant disparity between household foodwork standards and the resources with which to meet them. This study centres on the everyday foodwork experiences of low-income mothers and their engagement with community supports such as community food initiatives (CFIs). It helps address a research gap concerning the relationship between CFI participation and maternal household foodwork. The study employs multiple methods including semi-structured interviews, graphic elicitation and tours of local community food programs. By identifying a range of factors, strategies, and challenges in mothers’ foodwork, the study elucidates some of the contradictory pressures that low-income mothers experience around foodwork. Some of these pressures are associated with meeting individualizing standards around being "good" mothers, "good" consumers and "good" food program participants. Efforts to meet these standards were seen through mothers’ attempts to feed their children healthy and preferred food, exercise agency through market choices, and moderate their demands of community food programs. While more research is required regarding both mothers’ actual participation in CFIs and CFI strategies to support them, the findings suggest that CFIs should incorporate low-income mothers’ subjectivities into food programming.