New Report Shows 4 million People Food Insecure

02-7-14

foodinsecurity2012-infographicengYesterday the research group PROOF (part of the Canadian Institute of Health Research)  released an updated report on household food insecurity in Canada. Looking at 2012 data the numbers show an increase in food security in the country: 4 million people report some level of being food insecure including 1.15 million children. The numbers show that more people experience hunger or skip meals than in previous years.

Food insecurity ranges in severity from being worried about not having enough food and accessing food support programs to skipping meals or not eating for an entire day.  As the report says, “Food insecurity indicates deprivation in terms of a basic human need: access to nutritious food in sufficient quantities to maintain good health.”  The results of food insecurity are poorer health outcomes, increased stress, and in the case of children, behavioral and concentration issues.

The PROOF team used the Canadian Community Health Survey to gather information from across the country to demonstrate a broad picture of food insecurity in Canada.  One population not represented in the survey however is First Nations people living on reserve.  What researchers did discover was a link between particular characteristics and an increased likelihood of being food insecure.  These include: being a female lone parent, being black or Aboriginal, having an income below the Low Income Measure (which is a pseudo poverty line that considers people poor if they are earning less than half of the median income), and whether you rent your home.

Ontario and Quebec had the largest number of people who are food insecure (571,300 and 437,700 respectively), and in terms of major centres, Halifax was at the forefront with 1 in 5 households facing some form of food insecurity.

Some startling statistics:

  • 62% of food insecure households are employed
  • 70% of people on social assistance are food insecure
  • Largest food insecurity is in Nunavut – 45% of households and 62% of children
  • 1 in 8 households in Canada are facing food insecurity – an increase of 130,000 people since 2011
  • Food insecurity more prevalent in households with children under the age of 18

Sadly the problem is not getting better. Researchers also found that the problem of food insecurity has “grown or persisted” in all regions of the country.  For more details see the PROOF website and which has the full report in English and French.