If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, here are some resources that can help you and your family:
Find a community food bank closest to you with the Ontario food bank look up tool.
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Food insecurity refers to not having enough food, uncertainty, and/or lack of access to enough healthy food. It means that you or your family worry about paying for groceries, where your next meal might come from, or cutting back on food to pay the bills. Household food insecurity is a problem rooted in income.
Food insecurity is a serious public health problem in Ontario, and across Canada. As summarized by the Ontario Dieticians in Public Health, reducing food insecurity requires solutions targeted to its root problem of insufficient income.
In 2020 households that were low-income and struggled to pay for rent, bills, and healthy food: (data based on the Low-Income Measure-After Tax)
Studies show adults and children in food insecure households are more likely to be diagnosed with a wide range of chronic conditions or develop poorer health.
Food charities, such as food banks and soup kitchens, offer short-term relief for people who cannot afford to buy their own food. While food banks and other charitable food programs do help some of the most urgent food needs experienced by a small minority of food insecure people, they are unable to address the issue of insufficient incomes, which is the cause of poverty and food insecurity. Only 20 percent of those who are food insecure use food banks.
To tackle the issue of household food insecurity, we need income-based strategies that address poverty.
Income-based strategies include:
Since 1998, Ontario Public Health Units have been mandated to monitor food affordability using the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB). The NFB is a survey tool that measures the cost of basic healthy eating as represented by current national nutrition recommendations and average food purchasing patterns. This measure relates the cost of the food basket to individual and family income to assess their ability to afford nutritious food.
The HKPR District Health Unit estimates an average family of four (two adults, a teen and child) would have spent just over $1,100 per month to eat healthy in 2022. The nutritious food basket consists of more than 60 food items that are healthy and commonly purchased.
Items not included in the food basket costing that are essentials:
Within the report we compare the incomes and expenses of several household scenarios to show how different incomes can affect healthy eating across Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, and Northumberland.
Household scenarios include:
Food insecurity is part of health equity.
Learn more about health equity and the social determinants of health.