Home Blog April 2015 4 million Canadians are food insecure – what does that mean exactly?

4 million Canadians are food insecure – what does that mean exactly?

4 million Canadians are food insecure – what does that mean exactly?

A few weeks ago, Statistics Canada released a report showing that more than one million Canadian households “experienced food security” in 2012. That is, these households “did not have access to a sufficient variety or quantity of food due to lack of money.”

A group of academics with the clever name PROOF have their own report that used slightly different definitions and found that 4 million Canadians in 1.7 million households “experienced some level of household food insecurity” in 2012.

Food insecurity in bite-size pieces

Once you hit a million of anything, it can become difficult to think about that thing concretely. The idea of 4 million food insecure people can be tough to get your head around. It helps to break the big number down into smaller bites. For example, in 2012:
-          310,000 Canadian adults had times when they were hungry, but couldn’t afford to eat.
-          190,000 households were unable to feed their children a balanced meal because they didn’t have money to purchase food.
-          18,000 households were forced to reduce the size of their children’s meals because they didn’t have enough food.
-          200,000 Canadian adults actually lost weight because they couldn’t afford to buy food.[i]
It should be noted that the research behind these numbers does not include people who are homeless, or people living on First Nations reserves, where food security is perhaps most precarious.
Canadian food insecurity has not improved
The most concerning number of all is perhaps this one: 1 in 12.  That is the number of Canadian households that ate suboptimal diets or regularly skipped meals in both 2007 and 2012 (i.e. who were moderately or severely food insecure). In other words, food security in Canada has not improved since we started measuring it regularly.
If you would like to read about how we can begin to reduce food insecurity in Canada, please see the recommendations section of our 2014 HungerCount report.

[i] All figures from PROOF – Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity.

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of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)