Food Insecurity amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Food Charity, Government Assistance, and Employment

To mitigate the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the federal government has implemented several financial assistance programs, including unprecedented funding to food charities. Using the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 2, the demographic, employment, and behavioural characteristics associated with food insecurity in April–May 2020 was examined. One-quarter of job-insecure individuals experienced food insecurity that was strongly associated with pandemic-related disruptions to employment income, major financial hardship, and use of food charity was found, yet the vast majority of food-insecure households did not report receiving any charitable food assistance. Increased financial support for low-income households would reduce food insecurity and mitigate negative repercussions of the pandemic.



Study: Association between food insecurity and stressful life events among Canadian adults

The COVID-19 pandemic and the related business closures and lockdowns have given rise to a series of unprecedented socioeconomic and health-related challenges, one of which is increasing food insecurity.

Throughout the pandemic, Statistics Canada has continued to collect and release data on food insecurity in Canada—including exploring the link between food insecurity and mental healthfinancial stability and Indigenous people living in urban areas.

This study looks at the characteristics of food insecure Canadians, focusing on how losing a job, suffering an injury or illness, or a combination of events can increase the risk of food insecurity. This release compares the food security outcomes of two different subpopulations: those who had experienced a stressful life event and those who had not.



Pandemic to Prosperity – January 21, 2021: One year after the first announcement of Covid on U.S. soil

The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) developed the Pandemic to Prosperity series. It builds on NCoC’s data infrastructure and advocacy network developed for its national Civic Health Index, with The New Orleans Index, which informed many public and private decisions and actions post-Katrina. This series is designed to enable a solid understanding of the damage to lives and livelihoods as the pandemic continues to unfold, as the United States enters the era of vaccines, and the nation grapples with new shocks and stressors such as disasters and civil unrest; it will also examine aspirational goals around strong and accountable government, functioning institutions from child care to internet access to local news availability, effective civic participation, and outcomes for people by race regarding employment, health, housing, and more. With each new report in the series, indicators will change as the recovery transitions. This report highlights mostly state-level metrics with breakdowns by race, gender, and age where available, relying on both public and private data sources.



Food insecurity and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Canadians living in households that experienced food insecurity (insecure or inadequate access to food because of financial constraints) during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic were significantly more likely to perceive their mental health as fair or poor and to report moderate or severe anxiety symptoms than Canadians in food-secure households. Approximately one in seven Canadians (14.6%) were estimated to live in a food-insecure household in May 2020.

This study, released in Health Reports, is the first to examine the association between household food insecurity and self-perceived mental health and anxiety among Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also estimated that 9.3% of Canadians living in food-insecure households reported having recently accessed free food or meals from a community organization.



Effective Programs and Policies for Promoting Economic Well-Being

This report was originally developed to support the work of Feeding America and its member food banks in exploring interventions that support households’ economic well-being. Such strategies can be valuable not only for organizations serving households facing food insecurity, but for agencies and organizations serving families with low incomes and other vulnerable populations. This report reflects this broadened audience, and we thank Feeding America for their support in helping us develop this report.



Beyond Hunger: the hidden impacts of food insecurity

This report illustrates the hidden impacts of food insecurity in people’s lives through a survey of 561 people in 22 communities across Canada. The people interviewed shared that food insecurity makes them ill, breaks down relationships, makes it harder to get stable work, and fully participate in society.



Cities Reducing Poverty: 2020 Impact Report

The Vibrant Communities – Cities Reducing Poverty 2020 Impact Report is the Tamarack Institute's first attempt at capturing and communicating national trends in poverty reduction and the important ways in which member Cities Reducing Poverty collaboratives are contributing to those changes.

This impact report is meant for poverty reduction organizers and advocates, and public decision-makers to get a sense for how collaborative, multi-sectoral local roundtables with comprehensive plans contribute to poverty reduction in their communities and beyond; and spotlights high-impact initiatives that are demonstrating promising results.



How are Canadians with long-term conditions and disabilities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

This infographic focuses on self-reported health, unmet needs for services and therapies, and difficulties meeting certain financial obligations and essential needs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic among participants aged 15 and older living with long-term conditions and disabilities. Results are based on the recent Statistics Canada crowdsourcing data collection completed by over 13,000 Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities between June 23 and July 6, 2020.



Wealth and Health Equity: Investing in Structural Change

Building on the Asset Funders Network’s the Health and Wealth Connection: Investment Opportunities Across the Life Course brief, this paper details:

  • What we know about the health-wealth connection for adults.
  • Why investment in integration is important.
  • How philanthropy can contribute to improving health-wealth outcomes for adults.

On September 29th, AFN hosted a webinar to release the paper with featured speakers:

Dr. Annie Harper, Ph.D., Program for Recovery and Community Health, Yale School of Medicine
Joelle-Jude Fontaine, Sr. Program Officer, Human Services, The Kresge Foundation
Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Chief of Race, Wealth, and Community, National Community Reinvestment Coalition



Dimensions of Poverty Hub

The Dimensions of Poverty Hub, sponsored by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), enables Canadians to track progress on poverty reduction. The updates as of September 2020 include poverty statistics based upon the new 2018-base Market Basket Measure (MBM).



Canada’s Forgotten Poor? Putting Singles Living in Deep Poverty on the Policy Radar

This report presents the findings of extensive research about employable singles on social assistance undertaken by Toronto Employment and Social Services, in partnership with the Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation. Drawing on data from 69,000 singles who were receiving social assistance in Toronto in 2016, and 51 interviews with randomly selected participants, the report highlights these individuals’ characteristics, their complex needs, and the barriers they face in moving off social assistance and into employment. Complementing the quantitative analysis, the interviews provide important insights into the daily realities of participants’ lives and their journeys on and off assistance.



Hunger Lives Here: Risks and Challenges Faced by Food Bank Clients During COVID-19

This report provides quantitative and qualitative data about the experience of hunger and poverty in Toronto during COVID-19. Based on phone surveys with over 220 food bank clients in May and June 2020 and an analysis of food bank client intake data, the report demonstrates that COVID-19 has led to increased reliance on food banks. The rate of new clients accessing food banks has tripled since the pandemic began. Among new clients, 76% report that they began accessing food banks as a result of COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn.



Income Volatility: Why it Destabilizes Working Families and How Philanthropy Can Make a Difference

As the work environment has evolved and jobs look more different, it is important to understand the impact of these changes on income—predictability, variability, and frequency—and how this affects the opportunity for mobility. Because of the complexity of income volatility, there is a unique role for philanthropy.

This brief helps grantmakers understand the enormous challenges income volatility presents in America and provides an array of strategies for philanthropy to leverage both investments and leadership to empower families to protect themselves from volatility’s worst effects.



Advancing Health and Wealth Integration in the Earliest Years

Despite the well-documented connection between health and wealth, investing in this intersection is still a new approach for many grantmakers. With the goal of inspiring increased philanthropic attention, exploration, and replication, this new spotlight elevates responsive philanthropic strategies that support both health and wealth.

This report focuses on the in utero-toddler stage of the life cycle (0-3 years). This age segment has some health-wealth integration activity, primarily through two-generation approaches. The goal is to inspire more philanthropic investment for this cohort by highlighting research and examples and offering recommendations.



The Who’s Hungry Report

The Who’s Hungry Report provides quantitative and qualitative data about the experience of hunger and poverty in Toronto. To create the reports, trained volunteers conduct face-to-face interviews with over 1,400 food bank clients at nearly 40 member agencies, collecting demographic data as well as information about the day-to-day experience of living with hunger.



First Nations, Metis and Inuit Women

Perceptions of the Social Determinants of Health Across Canada: An Examination of the Literature

Social determinants of health for the off-reserve First Nations population, 15 years of age and older, 2012

Data Collection Methods and Food Assessments


This is the slide deck for a webinar presentation by First Nations Development Institute on data collection methods in first nations communities, related to food assessments. It explains the data collection process, what data analysis is, why it is important to have a data analysis plan, qualitative and quantitative methods, types of questions, and more.


Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy

Divided City: Life in Canada’s Child Poverty Capital. 2016 Toronto Child and Family Poverty Report Card

Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts

Break the Barriers: Millions in Canada still struggle to get by

Re-framing poverty as a matter of rights

Toronto’s Vital Signs

Children in Food Insecure Households

The Impact of Food Insecurity on Health

Monitoring Food Insecurity in Canada

Public Policy and Food Insecurity

Do Limits on Family Assets Affect Particpation in, Costs of TANF?

How Income Affects Health in Ontario

Income and Health: Opportunities to achieve health equity in Ontario

Income Volatility and Food Assistance Programs

Hunger Count 2014: A Comprehensive Report on Hunger and Food Bank Use in Canada, and Recommendations for Change

On Policy Summer 2016