“It is common for families who receive income on a regular basis but who typically cannot “make ends meet” to describe their food restrictions as cyclic, with food shortages most acute at the end of the month when household resources are exhausted.” – Low-Income Women’s Dietary Intakes are Sensitive to the Depletion of Household Resources in One Month
What is the real cost of hunger?
The average person coming to a food bank has very little income, and what little income they do have is primarily spent on rent and utilities (68% of it) at the beginning of the month. Daily Bread Food Bank provides food to approximately 70 food banks and as anyone who volunteers or works at a food bank will tell you, end of month is the busiest because by that time what little income an individual has is all but gone.
There is a growing body of research that is beginning to explore what kind of impact or relationship ‘feast and famine’ cyclical eating habits has on obesity and resulting health complications such as diabetes. What is only beginning to be explored is how that type of cyclical calorie intake has on the health of low-income individuals, who are most at the mercy of this type of eating pattern due to a lack of income and therefore a steady supply of nutritious food.
As this map from the Toronto Star shows, those who live in low-income areas also seem to suffer from a higher rate of diabetes. The long-term impact of hunger on low-income communities can be seen in those correlating rates of diabetes. Those types of chronic health issues, and the resulting complications from a disease like diabetes as the affected population ages, has the potential to become an expensive burden on the health care system. The cost of health care in Ontario is already expected to rise by 6 per cent this year – if that trend continues, how much more will we be paying for health care 10 years from now? How much is it costing those affected by hunger right now? When we discuss the issue of ‘hunger’ and how it is affecting people, we also need to think about some of these larger issues and what hunger is really costing us. Addressing the social determinants of health can reduce health costs over the long run for the individual and the community and is an issue that needs to be considered when discussing the cost of hunger.