Food insecurity is a serious public health problem in Ontario, and across Canada.
Image used with permission from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
No Money for Food is...Cent$less aims to increase awareness of the problem of food insecurity and effective solutions.
What is food insecurity?
Food insecurity, also called household food insecurity, is not having enough money to buy food. Individuals and families living on low incomes struggle to pay the rent and bills AND food. Food is sacrificed to pay for other costs of living.
When a family or someone struggles to put food on the table, it is a sign of over-all deprivation due to inadequate or unstable incomes.
Food insecurity has severe negative impacts on physical and mental health as well as social well-being and costs our healthcare system considerably.
Who experiences food insecurity in Ontario?
13% of households in Ontario are food insecure. This translates to 1,700,000 people living in Ontario. Evidence shows that total household food insecurity rates may have slightly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in groups that were already at risk.
1 in 6 children in Ontario lives in a household that is food insecure.
59% of Ontario households receiving social assistance are food insecure.
63% of food insecure households in Ontario have employment income.
Source: Tarasuk, V, Mitchell, A. (2020). Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18 [Report online].Toronto, ON: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF); 2020 [cited 2020 Nov 10]. Available from https://proof.utoronto.ca/.
The solution: Policies that increase incomes
The solution is adequate incomes through jobs with livable wages and benefits, social assistance rates that reflect the true costs of living, and a basic income guarantee for all. Click here for a list of Ontario MPP candidates who have taken a pledge to actively support the establishment of a Basic Income Guarantee.
An adequate income:
- Addresses the root cause of food insecurity − not enough money
- Gives individuals and families the means to choose how, when and what food to buy
- Preserves dignity
- Supports social inclusion
Food charity is an ineffective solution for food insecurity
Food charities, such as food banks and soup kitchens, provide temporary food relief for people who cannot afford to buy their own. But despite enormous efforts, food charity can never meet the demand that is becoming even worse with sky-rocketing inflation.
Food banks do not address the root cause of food insecurity − not enough money to buy food. Only about 20% of households experiencing food insecurity access food banks. For those who do use food banks, food insecurity does not go away.
According to the United Nations Human Right Council, all humans have the right to adequate food in socially dignified ways. In a country as rich as Canada, everyone should be able to buy enough food. It takes more than food to solve food insecurity. Income solutions are needed to address this urgent public health problem.
What can you do?
Click here to find out what you can do.