Food Insecurity

Food Insecurity in Ottawa

An estimated 1 in 7 (13.9%) Ottawa households are food insecure, with 9.5% experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity.

What is food insecurity? This is when an individual or households are:

  • stressed about running out of food before they can purchase more
  • cannot afford balanced meals,
  • go hungry by eating less or skipping meals (sometimes not eating for an entire day), or
  • do not have access to the variety or quantity of food that they need due to lack of money.

Food insecurity is a serious public health issue. It impacts children's physical and mental health and puts adults at a higher risk of suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. 

Access to food is a human right.

Each year Ottawa Public Health conducts the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey. The survey measures the cost of basic healthy eating and is used to monitor the affordability and accessibility of healthy foods in our city.

In 2019, Ottawa Public Health determined that it costs a minimum of $901 to feed a family of four every month.

Annually, the local cost of the NFB plus rent are compared with household income from social assistance or minimum wage work to assess whether income from these sources is adequate to cover the cost of these basic necessities.

The results of the NFB survey show that low-income households struggle to afford their bills while also putting healthy food on the table.  Families often choose between paying for fixed expenses (such as rent, transportation, and heat) and buying groceries.

For more information, check out our Nutritious Food Basket full report and infographic.

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