Food Insecurity            

Before and After Food Insecurity

In North America food insecurity usually doesn't just happen overnight. There may be a sudden event that immediately thrusts a person or family onto that slippery slope from having enough to eat to going hungry on a regular basis. Or it may be a generation situation where once into that distress, it is hard to get out of it.

“Food or uncertain availability of or inability to acquire nutritionally adequate, safe, and acceptable foods due to financial resource constraint. More specifically, food insufficiency refers to an inadequate amount of food intake due to resource constraint.”

Food Insecurity Affects School Children’s Academic Performance, Weight Gain, and Social Skills authors Diana F. Jyoti, Edward A. Frongillo, and Sonya J. Jones

First, let's think about why Food Security is important.

When you look at the effects of a lack of a proper nutritious diet, you start to understand how important food security really is. Food security is not just about having enough nutritious food on the table. That’s number 1. But when you see how people’s lives improve so dramatically in groups like Community Kitchens where they may only get a few extra meals a month, you come to understand how lack of nutritious food steals vitality of spirit as well as health from the body.

Lives are diminished.

Research has shown a lack of involvement in community, lower voter turn-out, lower rates of student involvement and higher rates of student drop outs.

There is a cost to the problem that all of us pay.

And if it diminishes one person’s life, all our lives are diminished.

Are there indicators that a person may be headed in that direction? And, what are the consequences?

Issues that precede: 

Some of the issues research has shown:

Loss of job
Loss of spouse
Job with no benefits
Lack of knowledge and skills
Health issues
Low work skills
Low education
Distance from stores or food supplies
Immigrant or new to area
Addition of grandchildren to senior family
Big family and any of above
Past family history of food insecurity
Little or no family support
Living on a pension
Age related issues, youth or seniors
Lack of specific cooking or shopping skills
Lack of cooking equipment
Lack of food storage
Overwhelm with life

But it could also be Personal Issues like:

Low self esteem
Lack of confidence
Inability to set goals
Lack of Motivation
Low problem solving skills
and more

Issues that follow:

Research has shown:

Increased poor health
Stunted growth in children
Increase in serious health/medical problems
Low birth weights
Failure to thrive in school, hence lower educational attainments
Lack of health supplements and prescriptions
Lower self esteem
Lower selfworth
Lack of courage to face life challenges
Lower motivation
Lack of physical exercise
Increased anxiety
Higher rates of depression
Higher suicide symptoms
Difficulty getting along with other children
Tardiness, absenteeism and grade repetition in school
Higher dropout rates in school

What follows Food Security?

Helping a person to improve the situation results:

Decrease in serious health/medical problems
Higher birth weights, healthier births
Improved school attendance
Better school grades
Improved job opportunities
Improved productivity
Improved self esteem
Improved feelings of self-worth
Improved productivity
Renewed Interest in life
and more

In other words, a healthy, happy future, stronger citizens, stronger communities.

Some of the Facts:

Community Food Centres Canada data:


1, 920,000 Canadians aged 12 or over lived in food insecure households.      

851,000 Canadians used food banks in a single month in 2011.

More than 1/3 of the 851,000 were children.  That’s about 300,000 Canadian children who didn’t have enough nutritious food to eat and got food from Food banks.   

40% of Canadian adult food bank recipients go hungry at least one day per week.

Poor Diet:  higher rates of diet related illness, ie. heart disease and diabetes.  72,000 + estimated number of deaths due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Social Isolation:  a drop in feelings of belonging.

Lack Of Civic Engagement: lower voter turnout.

Poverty: Increase in number of working poor.  (42% increase in Toronto, 2000-2005)      

$6.3 Billion is the estimated cost to Canadians of unhealthy eating.       

$72 Billion estimated public and private cost of poverty in Canada.

$6.3 Billion is the estimated cost to Canadians

of unhealthy eating.       

$72 Billion estimated public and private cost

of poverty in Canada.

This issue - lack of access to sufficient, healthy food — is either not getting any better or is getting worse in all parts of Canada, according to a new report.

Valerie Tarasuk, of the University of Toronto, was the lead researcher for the Household Food Insecurity in Canada report, which was produced with support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Her research suggests no government in Canada is taking on the problem of food insecurity. (CBC) The study — which looks at the number of Canadians who don't have access to sufficient food for a full, healthy diet — used data from Statistics Canada's 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey.

Tarasuk's report suggests four million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, experienced some level of food insecurity.

That represents about 13 per cent of households.

In the News

Feb 06, 2014

Report indicates 4 million Canadians suffering some degree of food insecurity

Related Stories

Wendy Stueck, Vancouver — The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, Oct. 08 2014

"Without national strategy, local food producers struggle to stem Canada’s growing hunger problem."

"Those statistics, along with other trends – including a shrinking land base available for farm production, aging farmers and even rising health-care costs related to obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes – suggest there is a need for a national food policy, says Diana Bronson, executive director for Food Secure Canada. “Despite the fact that all five political parties in the 2011 federal election said they were in favour of a food and farm strategy … we haven’t seen it,” Ms. Bronson said. “It hasn’t come together.”

Oct. 1, 2013 - "Food is at the epicenter of our nation's most pressing issues - from poverty and poor health, to the environment and economy - and communities need to make these critical connections so Canadians can mobilize more effectively, says a new report from Community Foundations of Canada.

"Our most challenging problems are landing at kitchen tables across Canada. Food is the intersection point, the place where we all feel the impact of these big issues in a very personal way," said Ian Bird, President of Community Foundations of Canada (CFC).

"Momentum is building around food. Canadians are already driving change locally on many different fronts," said Bird. "From community food centres and farmers' markets, to healthier snacks in schools, and restaurateurs with 100-mile menus, we are transforming our relationship with food. But we need to see the whole picture to have the impact we want."

Susan Walker Special to the Star, Published on Sun Oct 12 2014

'There's growing concern about the availability and quality of Canadian food, and the fact that 4 million Canadians aren't getting proper nutrition.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May says Canada needs to focus on protecting the health of its citizens rather than boosting food exports."

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