Tackling household food insecurity: An essential goal of a national food policy
Eradicating household food insecurity is essential to the articulated vision of a national food policy that aims to promote healthy living and safe food for families across the country. Household food insecurity refers to the insecure or inadequate access to food due to financial constraints. Despite federal commitments to improve the situation, food insecurity in Canada increased between 2007-08 and 2011-12. It currently affects more than four million Canadians, and is particularly grave in Indigenous communities. Food insecurity takes a toll on individuals’ health and well-being, and it is a burden on our healthcare system. The social epidemiology of household food insecurity shows it to be inextricably linked to the social and economic circumstances of households. Federal and provincial policy interventions that improve the financial circumstances of very low income households have yielded reductions of up to 50 percent in household food insecurity prevalence and severity. Yet, prevalence rates remain high. A national food policy represents an invaluable opportunity to address food insecurity in Canada. To do so, this policy must transcend the conventional boundaries of agriculture and agri-food. Addressing food insecurity requires the integration of policy actions across the three levels of government. In addition, performance targets must be established, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms implemented, to ensure that policies and programs meant to address food insecurity actually have a meaningful impact.