The purpose of this study was to investigate parents' perceptions of the food consumption practices and nutrition-related needs in a resource-constrained community, in terms of daily eating patterns, current knowledge and attitudes with regards to food choice, food production and food preparation, as well as community-based nutrition-related needs and information to be included in an intervention aimed at community-wide health and well-being. The study forms part of a broader research project, which aims to facilitate health and well-being in resource-constrained communities, in support of reaching identified Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).
Interpretivism was utilised as meta-theoretical lens and a qualitative research approach was followed. I selected Bronfenbrenner's Ecosystems Theory as guiding framework for the current study. A Participatory Reflection and Action (PRA) research design was utilised to generate data with 22 purposefully selected parents from three primary schools in the Bronkhorstspruit area. Data were generated and documented through PRA-based workshops, observation, visual techniques, field notes and a reflective journal.
Following inductive thematic analysis, five themes and related sub-themes emerged. The first theme relates to the daily eating patterns of the community, reflecting food consumed during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Secondly, healthy eating practices were identified as a theme, indicating that community members had a clear understanding of what healthy eating practices entails, available resources to inform healthy eating practices and current informational needs in terms of healthy eating practices. The third theme highlights food preparation practices, where women take responsibility for food preparation by means of a variety of methods. The fourth theme emphasises food purchasing practices, where community members buy from larger chain-stores, local shops and informal traders. Finally, the fifth theme indicates food production practices, where community members prefer to grow their own vegetables.
Based on the findings it can be concluded that this community's food consumption patterns are primarily affected by factors in the macrosystem, namely poverty and unemployment. At the macro-level, access to healthy food, cost of healthy food and the influence of the media are aspects influencing the perceptions and decisions of community members such as parents. Changed food consumption practices and nutrition-related needs within the community may, in turn, effect change in the macrosystem by informing related future interventions.