Rice is preferred : economic and cultural implications of introducing a nontraditional food in a food aid program

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Paul Ventura


This paper looks at some issues surrounding the introduction of a non-traditional food to beneficiaries of a food aid project in the Dominican Republic. The study attempts to answer the research question: What are some of the differences in characteristics between (wheat) Adopters and Non-Adopters? Sub-questions pertain to: previous exposure to wheat, local knowledge of preparation, food preferences, importance of traditional foods, experiences with new foods, involvement in community work projects, age, and number of children. The value in these questions lies in how to better plan, implement and evaluate future food programs. Thirty-three female recipients of the World Food Program's Food-For-Work programs were interviewed. Data were obtained through a representative sampling of two rural communities using non-probability sampling. In my study, it appears that the World Food Program faces two challenges with the poor acceptance of donated foods: their quality and their cultural acceptability. Questions are raised of whether recipients have the right to expect good quality and culturally appropriate food, or should be expected to accept poor quality and non-traditional foods. Additionally, there appears to be an interesting relationship between the acceptance of wheat and both women and men's direct involvement in Food-For-Work community projects. In general terms, governments, agencies and organizations working with food aid must consider the relationships between food and culture and their importance to people. Alternatives to conventional food aid would enable the World Food Program to make more decisions with regard to the quality and the cultural appropriateness of donated food.

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