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The lack of comprehensive, up-to-date statistics is detrimental to efforts to make evidence-based decisions on this problem. Food insecurity may prevent individuals from maintaining good health by affecting the quality and quantity of their food intake. Adults and adolescents in food-insecure households in Canada are more likely to experience nutrient inadequacies and have poorer diets, with lower intakes of milk products, fruits, and vegetables compared to people who are food secure.

Experiencing food insecurity at an early age is associated with childhood mental health problems, such as hyperactivity and inattention.

Adults living in food-insecure households report poorer physical health and are more vulnerable to a wide range of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and back problems. Food insecurity also makes it difficult for individuals to manage existing chronic health problems, such as diabetes and HIV, and it can lead to worsening conditions. The health consequences of food insecurity are a large burden on our healthcare system. Even after adjusting for other well-established social determinants of health, such as education and income levels, the healthcare costs incurred by a severely food insecure adult in Ontario are more than double that of a food secure adult.

Household food insecurity in Canada is tightly linked to income. However, it is not a perfect one-to-one relationship.

Severe food insecurity is very sensitive to income. Households with very low incomes are at much higher risk of being severely food insecure.

Food | United Nations

It is critical to address this high risk, given the greater negative health impact and healthcare costs associated with severe food insecurity. Modest changes to income can have a considerable impact on their risk of food insecurity. On the other hand, there is no indication that increasing food skills or budgeting skills will reduce food insecurity.

An analysis of national survey data from Statistics Canada found that adults in food-insecure households report having food preparation and cooking skills comparable to those in food-secure households. This research also found that food preparation and cooking skills were not associated with food insecurity — adults that were more proficient in these skills were not any more likely to be food secure. Although adults in food-insecure households are less likely to garden for food, there is also no indication that gardening for food protects households from food insecurity.

An examination of food insecurity among unattached, low income Another public program that was shown to have a positive impact on household food insecurity is the Universal Child Care Benefit UCCB , a federal income supplement program that provided support to households with young children. Researchers found that the introduction of this benefit in reduced food insecurity among eligible households and this reduction was especially great for low-income households and households led by single parents.

Social assistance programs vary among provinces and territories, but being on social assistance anywhere in Canada poses an extremely high risk of food insecurity. While food insecurity rates among households reliant on these programs fluctuate from year to year within jurisdictions, they have been persistently high.

Matthew 13:33

Between and , the prevalence of food insecurity among social assistance recipients in Newfoundland and Labrador decreased by almost half. Unfortunately, Newfoundland and Labrador elected not to measure household food insecurity on the CCHS in the two survey cycles after The province ended the indexation of income support rates to inflation in , but there is no way of knowing what has happened to the prevalence since then.

None of the policies described here were explicitly designed to address household food insecurity, but they had substantial impact on this problem because they improved incomes for very low-income households. These are the households that are most likely to be severely food insecure, the most toxic state of food insecurity for health and wellbeing. The results here show that when food insecure households receive additional income, they spend it in ways that improves their food security. Interventions that provide a modest increase to income can go a long way in addressing food insecurity in Canada.

Civil society groups are doing their best to help those struggling with food insecurity in their communities.

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However, there is wide consensus that the government needs to take action on food insecurity through income-based interventions. The upcoming federal poverty reduction strategy and national food policy could be promising steps forward, but it is imperative that they make the reduction of household food insecurity an explicit target. References 1.


Household food insecurity in Canada, Unpublished analysis of and Canadian Community Health Survey data. Household Food Insecurity in Canada, Start Today. To better protect your privacy, we provide this notice explaining our online information practices and the choices you can make about the way your information is collected and used. To make this notice easy to find, we make it available on our homepage and at every point where personally identifiable information may be requested. All transactions on this website are safe and secure. Our site uses technology that ensures your personal and payment information is kept confidential and secure.

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The company also sources some foods that reduce waste earlier in the system, like a type of nutrient-rich flour made from coffee cherries, the fruit around coffee beans that is normally wasted. Chefs have experimented with using the flour in brownies, tortillas, and other foods. Near the end of lunch, they might change to shallower pans at the salad bar. The company serves some foods, like desserts, in smaller portions. As menus and staff change, the system keeps the focus on waste.