Food insecurity – not having enough money to buy food – is a serious public health problem. When income is too low, people do not have enough money for rent, bills and food.
An estimated 9% of Perth County residents, or about 7000 people are living with food insecurity. Approximately 1.5 million Ontarians are food insecure.
- In Ontario, 64% of people receiving social assistance are food insecure, suggesting current social assistance rates are simply not enough to cover basic needs.
- Having a job is no guarantee of enough money for food – 60% of food insecure households in Ontario are part of the workforce, often in low paying or unstable jobs.
What Does Food Insecurity Look Like?
The experience of food insecurity can range from worrying about running out of food, to compromising the quantity or quality of food, or having to rely on cheaper, less nutritious food to keep hunger away. When severe, food insecurity can mean missing meals or going full days without eating.
Food Insecurity Stories
“Charity should not be what provides people in a society with their basic needs”
“It’s really hard, when something has happened to you like this car crash, and you think to yourself ‘I worked hard, I had a good job, and it wasn’t my fault'."
“Even for a single person, a pound of hamburger can only go so far, you can only get so many meals out of that.”
“I tried my hardest to keep him fed, and this often meant not caring for myself the way I needed to.”
Food Insecurity Takes a Tremendous Toll on Health
Adults who are food insecure are more likely to suffer from conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety. Children are more likely to suffer from mental health problems and teenagers are at greater risk of depression, social anxiety and suicide. Being food insecure makes it more difficult to manage health conditions.
The health impacts of food insecurity cost our healthcare system greatly.
Food Insecurity Cannot be Solved with Food
The best way to end food insecurity is by addressing poverty. Income solutions such as a basic income guarantee, a living wage and social assistance rates geared to the real cost of living are needed so that everyone has the money they need for basic needs, including food.
What Can You Do?
Educate Yourself – Ontario Dietitians in Public Health provides more information about food insecurity.
Get Involved – participate in the Perth County Food Security Coalition to advocate for income adequacy for all Ontarians. For more information contact Natalee Ridgeway at 519-271-0375 extension 764.
- Ontario Dietitians in Public Health ‘No Money for Food is…Cent$less”
- PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research – Household Food Insecurity Statistics
- PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research – The Impact of Food Insecurity on Health Fact sheet
- United Way Perth-Huron – A Living Wage: What it takes to make ends meet in Perth-Huron
- Ontario Dietitians in Public Health – Food Insecurity Infographic
- Ontario Association of Food Banks – 2017 Ontario Association of Food Banks Hunger Report
- Healthy Eating Programs in Perth County