Identifying Policy Options to Reduce Household Food Insecurity in Canada

Despite the long history of food banks in Canada, household food insecurity has persisted at high rates. PROOF’s research highlights the need for policy makers to shift their focus from food charity to public policies that increase the incomes of vulnerable households.

Illustration of empty shopping cart casting shadow on map of Canada

New report:
Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2021

Food insecurity:
A problem of inadequate income, not solved by food

Illustration of helicopter shining light on can of food in the water with other basic needs sinking in the shadows, forming a dollar sign symbol

Learn about food insecurity

Food insecurity is the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints. It is a serious public health problem, a marker of pervasive material deprivation, and a matter of public policy.

Statistics Canada monitors the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity through its population surveys. This monitoring has enabled research on the predictors of food insecurity, the impact on health and health care, and the effects of different policy interventions on food insecurity.

How many Canadians are affected by household food insecurity?

Based on the latest data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Income Survey, 5.8 million Canadians, including 1.4 million children, lived in food-insecure households in 2021.

Learn more about monitoring and the latest numbers

Who are most at risk of household food insecurity?

Food insecurity is a measure of material deprivation. It is most prevalent among households with inadequate, insecure incomes and limited, if any, financial assets, or access to credit.

Learn more about the predictors of food insecurity

What are the implications of food insecurity for health and health care?

Food insecurity has serious implications for people’s health and wellbeing beyond just poor nutrition and diet. And as a result, it takes a serious toll on health care resources and spending.

Learn more about the health implications

What can be done to reduce food insecurity in Canada?

There is a strong body of evidence showing that food insecurity can be reduced through policy interventions that improve the incomes of low-income households.

Learn more about these policies


PROOF is an interdisciplinary research program examining effective policy interventions to reduce household food insecurity in Canada.

Our work shines a spotlight on the size and seriousness of food insecurity in Canada, the inability for charitable assistance to resolve it, and how it can be remedied through public policies supporting adequate incomes. We provide evidence on the kinds of policy action needed and timely and reliable reporting of food insecurity statistics.

Featured Blog Posts

  • Commentary | Story

    Food prescriptions – a short-sighted response to food insecurity

    Providers of food prescriptions in Canada have acknowledged that they are “at best, stopgap measures” & “not a solution to food insecurity”. Canada already has a long history of stopgap measures in food charity. Can we afford to entrench another?

    May 25, 2023

  • Announcement | Story

    New data on household food insecurity in 2022

    We’ve summarize the latest data on food insecurity in 2022 from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Income Survey. In 2022, 6.9 million Canadians, including almost 1.8 million children, lived in a food-insecure household.

    May 2, 2023

  • Announcement

    Job Posting: Part-time Research Analyst (Toronto)

    We are hiring a part-time Research Analyst to support research on the economic predictors of food insecurity, using Statistics Canada population survey data at the downtown campus of the University of Toronto.

    April 27, 2023

  • Resource | Story

    What the measures in the 2023 budgets mean for food insecurity

    Budget season has come to an end. The 2023-2024 federal, provincial, and territorial budgets come at a critical time where record inflation has put considerable financial strain on many Canadians.

    April 13, 2023

  • Commentary | Story

    The 2023 Federal Budget has the right idea, but much more is needed to address food insecurity

    Food insecurity is a problem of income inadequacy. The 2023 federal budget’s “grocery rebate” has the right idea, but falls short.

    March 29, 2023

  • Research | Story

    A more generous Canada Child Benefit for low-income families would reduce their probability of food insecurity

    New PROOF research, led by Dr. Fei Men, found that the additional money provided to families with younger children through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) lowers their risk of household food insecurity.

    March 9, 2023

Latest Resources

  • 2023 Provincial and Territorial Budget Reflection

    April 13, 2023

    Taking a closer look at provincial and territorial budgets and what they could mean for food insecurity

  • CRDCN Research-Policy Snapshots

    February 8, 2023

    CRDCN Research-Policy Snapshots

  • Open letter

    December 9, 2022

    Open Letter: Stop headlining the pan-Canadian school food policy as a way to reduce food insecurity among children

  • December 6, 2022

    The Canada Child Benefit as a Policy to Improve Children’s Health (HESA submission)

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