A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that people experiencing food insecurity died an average of 9 years earlier than those who are food secure.
To put it simply, not having enough to eat can shorten a person’s life by close to a decade.
Food insecurity leads to a wide range of health challenges, including chronic conditions and mental disorders. Not only are people experiencing food insecurity more likely to have ill health, they are also less likely to be able to access the services they need.
People employed in minimum-wage, temporary or part-time jobs are far less likely to have employer-provided benefits than those with higher incomes. Among food bank clients who are employed, only 11% had medication coverage.
Our social safety net is failing those living in poverty. Compared to 11 similar countries, Canada ranks second last on social program spending. Government programs are leaving wide gaps in health services coverage, including prescription medication, dental care, and mental health services.
Food banks fill the gap left by our social safety net by helping people meet their immediate need for food. But no one should need to worry about where their next meal will come from.
Food is a basic human right, and we have both a legal and moral duty to achieve this right. All people living in Canada should be able to access the nutritious food they need to live a healthy and full life.