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Food and Nutrition

Household Food Insecurity in Canada: Overview

Health Canada plays a leading role in monitoring key food and nutrition indicators, including household food insecurity. Understanding the patterns of household food insecurity in Canada over time is helpful in developing and assessing the impact of policies and programs related to food security.

Food security exists "when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life."Footnote 1

Household food insecurity is "the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so"Footnote 2. It is often associated with the household's financial ability to access adequate food.

Since 2004, the Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM), a comprehensive and validated measurement tool of household food insecurity, has been included in Canadian national surveys, including cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and the 2010 cycle of the Survey of Household Spending (SHS).

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Footnote 1

Food and Agriculture Organization. Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action, Rome, Italy: FAO, 1996. Available at:

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Footnote 2

Davis B, Tarasuk V. Hunger in Canada. Agriculture and Human Values 1994;11(4):50-57.

Return to footnote 2 referrer