Many Canadians have food insecurity on their minds, according to an Ipsos poll on food insecurity, health and poverty commissioned by Community Food Centres Canada, a Canada-based national non-profit that increases access to healthy food in low-income communities and promotes food skills and civic engagement.
According to the poll, 91% of Canadians think food insecurity is a persistent problem in Canada, a problem that 41% believe has worsened in the last decade. And, Canadians want to see solutions—74% believe that government has a responsibility to take action to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable food.
"Canadians are telling us loud and clear that we need to do better," says Nick Saul, president and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada. "We know that the best way to reduce food insecurity is to increase people's incomes. We currently have National Food Policy and National Poverty Reduction Strategy processes unfolding in parallel at the federal level, and we need to make sure that they both speak to this issue – and to each other."
According to the PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research project, 4 million Canadians are food insecure.
Increasing access to affordable food is one of the four focus areas of the National Food Policy. The others are improving health and food safety, growing more high-quality food and conserving soil, water and air.
"We need to ensure that reducing food insecurity and improving the lives of vulnerable Canadians stays at the forefront of both of these important conversations," says Saul. "At the same time, with so many ministries involved in the National Food Policy, there is an important opportunity to surface new solutions that can break down silos and address the complex issues affecting different parts of our food system – solutions that could include community responses to food insecurity, a national school lunch program and support for small farmers."
The Ipsos poll also asked Canadians about areas where this type of multi-sectoral approach could be useful, for example, addressing Canadians' declining levels of food literacy and finding innovative approaches to promoting healthier diets and reducing chronic disease. It showed that Canadians are interested in new approaches, including solutions that would put more affordable fruits and vegetables on the plates of low-income individuals. Ninety-one percent of Canadians said they would support a government subsidy program that would provide fruit and vegetable vouchers to people living on low incomes as a way to address diet-related illness.
The poll was conducted by Ipsos, France, between March 29 and April 3, on behalf of Community Food Centres Canada. For this survey, a sample of 1,002 Canadians aged 18 and up was interviewed online via Ipsos' online panel.