Hunger in Canada
- Cite this article as:
- Davis, B. & Tarasuk, V. Agric Hum Values (1994) 11: 50. doi:10.1007/BF01530416
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Hunger is defined as the inability to obtain sufficient, nutritious, personally acceptable food through normal food channels or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so. After the depression of the 1930s, widespread concerns about hunger in Canada did not resurface until the recession of the early 1980s when the demand for food assistance rose dramatically. The development of an ad hoc charitable food distribution system ensued and by 1992, 2.1 million Canadians were receiving food assistance. In the absence of national monitoring systems, this remains the best available estimate of the prevalence of hunger. Hunger appears to be linked to poverty, unemployment, and numbers of people receiving social assistance. Although the Canadian social security system has traditionally been characterized by government-run universal and targeted programs designed to address income issues, hunger raises concerns about the current “safety net”. The primary response to hunger has been the proliferation of food banks, the agencies at the heart of the charitable food assistance system. On a smaller scale, community-based programs and advocacy initiatives have emerged. Nonetheless, the demand for food assistance continues to rise. The trend raises questions about future directions for social policy in Canada and concerns about the development of a two-tiered food distribution system—one for those with adequate money and one for the poor.