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

About PROOF

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.

How to tackle food insecurity in Canada

Latest Resources

  • 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)

  • Cover page for Food insecurity: A problem of inadequate income, not solved by food

    October 13, 2022

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

  • September 29, 2022

    Household Food Insecurity in Canada in 2021 Webinar

Featured Blog Posts

  • Story

    The Big Story Podcast: Why food banks can’t solve the problem of hungry Canadians

    Dr. Valerie Tarasuk joined The Big Story Podcast to talk about the need for policy action to address the high and persistent rate of household food insecurity in Canada.

    January 26, 2023

  • Resource | Story

    PROOF writes open letter to Minister Gould and Minister Bibeau

    PROOF has sent an open letter calling for a stop to the unsubstantiated assertions in government consultations that a school food policy will reduce food insecurity for families.

    December 9, 2022

  • Resource

    PROOF and Campaign 2000 submits brief to Standing Committee on Health

    This submission summarizes how the federal government could improve children’s health by increasing the amount that low-income families receive from the Canada Child Benefit.

    December 6, 2022

  • Commentary | Research

    Moment of reckoning for household food insecurity monitoring in Canada

    In our new commentary, we discuss the future of monitoring household food insecurity in Canada now that it is regularly measured on two Statistics Canada surveys.

    October 13, 2022

  • Announcement

    Insécurité Alimentaire des Ménages au Canada, 2021

    En 2021, 15,9 % des ménages dans les dix provinces ont connu un certain niveau d’insécurité alimentaire dans les 12 mois précédents. Cela représente 5,8 millions de personnes, dont presque 1,4 million d’enfants de moins de 18 ans qui vivent dans des ménages en situation d’insécurité alimentaire.

    September 22, 2022

  • Commentary | Research | Resource | Story

    New report finds persistently high rates of food insecurity, policy action on inadequate income needed

    We recently released our latest report on household food insecurity in Canada. In 2021, 15.9% of households in the ten provinces were food-insecure. Learn more about it here.

    August 16, 2022

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