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How Does Food Insecurity Affect Canadians?

March 22, 2019
Food insecurity is a very real issue impacting the physical, mental and social health of over 4 million Canadians. Although food insecurity is strongly linked to poverty in our country, it can affect almost anyone at any time. Let’s take a deeper at this problem in our latest blog.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food security is defined as “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” When income is too low or unsteady, there is not enough money left to pay for
sufficient healthy food after paying for housing, utilities, transportation and health expenses.

Food insecurity starts when people begin worrying about running out of food or limiting their menu choices due to a lack of funds.  As it progresses, people will begin to compromise the quantity and the quality of their food, choosing lower cost, lower quality options and consuming less. In the worst cases, people may greatly reduce their food intake, skip meals or even go days without food.

Who is Affected by Food Insecurity?


Food insecurity affects over 4 million Canadians or 1 in 8 households. Of that number, 1.15 million are under 18 years old. That means that 1 in 6 Canadian children are going hungry each day.

Although food insecurity is strongly linked to poverty, over 62% of the affected households are earning income from some type of employment. The highest incidents are recorded in the Territories, with 45% of Nunavut affected.

Some other statistics to consider:
  • ⅓ of the affected households are headed by single female parents
  • ⅔ of the affected households rent their homes and 1 in 4 renters experience food insecurity
  • 12% of those affected are seniors of a fixed income

The Cost of Food Insecurity

While the health impact of food insecurity extends beyond diet and nutrition, it also doubles the risk of poor health and increased health care costs. Those experiencing food insecurity also experience increased rates of depression, suicide and chronic disease.

What Can We Do to Help?

While emergency measures like food banks can provide relief, the underlying problem of poverty must be addressed. Action is needed at the municipal, provincial and federal level to tackle this serious public health issue. Simcoe County Circles is here to help families and communities take charge of their destinies as they successfully move up and out of poverty. Find out more about Simcoe County Circles programs and support by visiting www.simcoecountycircles.com or by calling 705-549-1890.