How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting food security in Canada

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As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across Canada, officials are struggling to provide aid to those who have been impacted by the pandemic.

And experts say organizations tasked with combating food insecurity are already feeling the strain as more and more people seek assistance. 

How is the COVID-19 affecting those experiencing food insecurity? Are more people going to become food insecure?

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Here’s a look at what’s going on.

How many people are food insecure in Canada?

A study released earlier this month from PROOF, an interdisciplinary research program investigating household food insecurity in Canada, found that one in eight households across the country is food insecure.

“This represents 4.4 million people, the largest number recorded since Canada began monitoring food insecurity,” the report said.

The report added this number — reflective of 103,500 households from Statistics Canada’s 2017-18 Canadian Community Health Survey — is an underestimate, as it did not include people living on First Nations reserves, some remote northern areas, or the homeless.

The report also found that 17 per cent of children under the age of 18 — more than one in six — live in a family experiencing food insecurity.

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Gisèle Yasmeen, executive director at Food Secure Canada, said even before the coronavirus outbreak, food insecurity in Canada was already “trending in the wrong direction.”

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