Understanding Food Insecurity

In Canada, food insecurity is a serious public health crisis caused by the inadequate or insecure access to adequate food due to financial constraints. Food insecurity impacts 1 in 8 people in Canada.  

Food insecurity impacts people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing. Physically, people experiencing food insecurity are more likely than food secure folks to experience migraines, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, bowel disorders, back problems, arthritis and stomach/intestinal ulcers. The mental health impacts of food insecurity include mood and anxiety disorders, depressive thoughts, suicidal thoughts and major depressive episode. Food insecurity also makes it difficult for individuals to manage chronic mental and physical health problems. Food insecurity impacts individual’s ability to concentrate and learn.  

Based on a household’s experience, food insecurity can be categorized into 3 categories:​ 

Marginal food insecurity: Worry about running out of food and/or limited food selection due to a lack of money for food​.


Moderate food insecurity: Compromise in quality and/or quantity of food due to a lack of money for food.​ 


Severe food insecurity: Miss meals, reduce food intake, and at the most extreme go day(s) without food. 

Food insecurity cannot be solved with charity. We need to address the root cause of food insecurity – poverty.  

To learn more about food insecurity, click on the graphics below:  

Graphics designed by Dana Bond, Rodolfo Carballo and Leigh Bannon

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