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The Management of Food Insecurity


How much do you spend a month on shelter ? What percentage of your total monthly budget is this ?


How much do you spend a month on food ?


What would you do to increase the amount of money you have available for food ?

Managing food insecurity represents a significant challenge. Most individuals surviving on low incomes spend the core of their budget on shelter. In fact, Toronto food bank users spend an average of 63% of their monthly income on shelter. Food costs are easier to manipulate, and consequently individuals may spend less on food when their shelter related expenses increase, for example, during unusually cold weather.

Income related strategies to avoid hunger involve attempts to increase the supply of money, and juggling the budget. The use of such strategies by Canadian households experiencing food insecurity was analyzed in the 1998-1999 National Population Health Survey for food insecure households. This research revealed that:

  • 57% used coupons or returned bottles

  • 49% postponed bill payments

  • 46% ate cheaper foods

  • 40% borrowed money

  • 28% skipped meals or ate less

  • 22% received food from charities

  • 20% borrowed food

  • 14% sold possessions

  • 9% bought food on credit