Exploring the Lives of Vulnerable Young People in Relation to Their Food Choices and Practices

Karolina Gombert, Flora Douglas, Karen McArdle, Sandra Carlisle


The interdisciplinary Foodways and Futures project (2013-2016) is based on a pilot study which found no
improvement in the nutritional state of formerly homeless young people (16-25), now in supported accommodation
at a charitable youth organization. Because a healthy food intake during adolescence is important, and because young
people with socioeconomic lower backgrounds face difficulties in maintaining a healthy diet (Beasley at al., 2005), I
investigated how the young people themselves experience their relationship to food. In this paper I explore links
between the lived experience before and during their stay with the organization of this vulnerable group, and their
food choices and practices. The study illustrates the ways in which those choices and practices may appear
nutritionally undesirable, but are nevertheless linked to the young people’s search for ontological security and social
connectedness, in their new living environment. In this, I draw on and extend Schlossberg’s (1981) transition theory
in order to better understand the rationales underlying an individual’s subjective food choices.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wje.v7n3p50

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World Journal of Education
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