Food Insecurity

Seven houses


What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity means a household doesn't have enough money to buy healthy food. Food insecurity can vary from worrying about running out of food, to filling up on cheaper, less nutritious foods, to skipping meals or going without eating. Poverty is the root cause of food insecurity. 

Having a job doesn't always provide enough money for food. Currently, 59% of food insecure households have income from employment. 1 in 7 households are food insecure in our Health Unit region. 

1 in 7 homes are food insecure

Households at higher risk of food insecurity include those who:

  • Have a low income or rely on social assistance
  • Have children under the age of 18 (especially single parent families)
  • Are unattached individuals, Indigenous, Black, or a newcomers to Canada
  • Rent rather than own their home

Food charity programs like food banks and soup kitchens can provide some relief, but do not address the root cause of food insecurity, which is poverty. Only about 25% of households experiencing food insecurity use food charity programs.

Food insecurity can lead to higher rates of:

  • Diabetes, high blood pressure, and poor oral health in adults
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression
  • Health care system use
  • In children, higher rates of asthma and depression later in life

The Cost of Healthy Eating

Every year, the Health Unit visits local grocery stores to determine the cost of healthy eating. The monthly cost of healthy eating for a family of four in our district is $884. This number is calculated using whole food staples from Canada's Food Guide.Year after year, the results show that it may not be possible for low income households in our district to pay rent, bills and buy nutritious food.

What You Can Do

Poverty is the root of the problem. Food insecurity must be addressed with government policy change.

  • Learn more about food insecurity and poverty here.
  • Share these messages. Help break down myths about food insecurity and poverty. Talk to your local MP and MPP about policy solutions like higher social assistance rates, more secure job opportunities with benefits, and a basic income for all. 
  • Vote. Governments make decisions that affect income. Learn about party platforms and vote for the candidate that best aligns with your values.
  • Sign your local food charter and stay up to date with local initiatives related to food insecurity and social justice at Nipissing Area or Parry Sound Area

Taking Action

The Health Unit  is involved in ongoing advocacy efforts related to issues of public health importance. Below are some examples advocacy letters about the need for income solutions to reduce food insecurity in Ontario. 

Support letter for Bill 60: An act to amend the Ministry of Community and Social Services Act to establish the Social Assistance Research Commission

Response letter for cancellation of Basic Income Pilot Project

Feedback letter for Income Security: A Roadmap for Change report consultation


2018 Income Scenarios

 The 2018 Income Scenarios show the cost of healthy eating and local rent rates compared with various household types and sources of income.  

Food Insecurity Poster

 Food Insecurity

Affiche d’insécurité alimentaire

 affiche d’insecurite


North Bay

345 Oak Street West

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)