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Food Insecurity

When families cannot afford to buy the food they want and need to maintain good health, they are food insecure. Food insecurity is a sign of poverty. Poverty keeps people from meeting their basic needs such as housing, food, clothing, and education. 

Food insecurity is a serious public health problem in Ontario, and across Canada. As summarized by the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health, reducing food insecurity requires solutions targeted to its root problem of insufficient income. 

In 2020, based on the low-income measure, after tax (LIM-AT), 8.7% of Northumberland households, 10.2% of Kawartha Lakes households, and 12.9% of Haliburton households, were considered low-income and struggled to pay for rent, bills and healthy food.​

Food Charities

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.

If you or someone you know needs immediate support with food, please see list of resources below that can help.

County of Haliburton | Community and Social Services 
Haliburton County Food Net | Community-based network to increase the food literacy and security 

City of Kawartha Lakes | Support Services  
Kawartha Lakes Food Source | Community Resources Directory

Northumberland County | Community Services and Support 
Northumberland County Food Support | Food 4 All strives to make sure that no one goes hungry in Northumberland

Monitoring Food Insecurity in the HKPR District Area

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.

Addressing Food Insecurity and Poverty in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District area

Every year, the HKPR District Health Unit publishes a food insecurity report that highlights the struggles faced by low-income families to pay for basic necessities, such as housing and food, because incomes and social assistance rates are not keeping up with rising costs. 

Educate Yourself

  • Learn more about the root causes of poverty and food insecurity. Understand that food charity programs cannot end food insecurity. Visit Ontario Dietitians in Public Health at
  • Simulate what it is like to be someone living on a low income and the difficult choices they must make to make ends meet. Take the Feed Ontario: Fork in the Road Challenge at
  • Learn about racism and how it is plays a role in shaping and influencing our daily lives, including our values, beliefs and behaviours. Visit University of British Columbia, Anti-Racism Awareness Campaign at

Promote Income-Based Solutions to Food Insecurity

  • Sign a petition or send letters to your political leaders. Tell them that you support a basic income guarantee and increases to minimum wage and social assistance rates.
  • Support free income-tax filing programs for low-income households so they do not miss out on any eligible tax benefits.

Support Investments in Local Public Programs and Services

Programs and services such as affordable housing, transit and recreation programs, and subsidized childcare make life more affordable for community members and support residents living with low incomes.

Support Companies that Respect the Health and Dignity of Their Employees

Talk to local businesses and choose to buy their products and services.

Be Kind and Compassionate

Everyone has their own story. Don’t make judgements about people living in poverty. Respect all peoples no matter their skin color or other differences.

Watch Video: Food Insecurity and Poverty 2023

Sarah Tsang, Health Equity Coordinator, discusses the issues surrounding food insecurity and poverty in the HKPR District area.

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