A Snapshot of Families and Food in Canada
Food is at the heart of family life. A biological necessity for our survival and well-being, food is also much more than that. What we choose to eat is often more than just a matter of personal preferences and whims; in many instances, what we eat reflects our cultural, community and family identities. Sometimes, our choices are made for us based on the availability and accessibility of food.
Regardless of the context, families adapt and react to ensure that dietary needs are being met. Some families have many opportunities to eat together, and these family meals provide a setting where family dynamics and relationships often “play out,” whether it’s in the delegation of cooking roles, discussing an upcoming family vacation or arguing over who has to do the dishes. Sometimes families – particularly those with busy schedules or high mobility – opt to eat meals “on the go.”
A Snapshot of Families and Food in Canada explores the evolving relationships between families and food in Canada, including research and statistics about family meals, eating patterns, nutrition, food security and more.
- More than 6 in 10 Canadians (62%) surveyed in 2017 said they eat dinner as a family at least five times per week.
- More than one-quarter (26%) of Canadians surveyed in 2017 agree with the statement, “My work–life balance does not permit me to prepare and/or eat my meals at home.”
- The most recent data indicates that 12% of households across Canada (1.3 million) experienced food insecurity in 2014, home to 3.2 million people.
- More than half (52%) of Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat((From Statistics Canada: “Inuit Nunangat is the homeland of Inuit of Canada. It includes the communities located in the four Inuit regions: Nunatsiavut (Northern coastal Labrador), Nunavik (Northern Quebec), the territory of Nunavut and the Inuvialuit region of the Northwest Territories. These regions collectively encompass the area traditionally occupied by Inuit in Canada.” Link: http://bit.ly/2gbzaqo.)) aged 25 and over lived in food-insecure households in 2012.
- In 2015, households across Canada spent an average $8,600 on food, an increase of 9.9% since 2010.
- 4 in 10 of those who said it’s become more difficult to afford groceries said they’ve been choosing less healthy options in the aisle to manage the rising prices.
- According to a 2017 study, more than three-quarters of Canadians aren’t meeting Canada Food Guide recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, with a resulting estimated economic burden to society of is $4.39 billion per year.
- More than 863,000 people across Canada accessed food banks in March 2016 alone (40% of whom lived in family households with children), 28% higher than in 2008.
- Research shows that the widespread malnutrition experienced by Indigenous children in Canada’s residential school system has had (and continues to have) a multi-generational impact on the health and well-being of their children and grandchildren, contributing to higher rates of chronic conditions.
This bilingual resource will be updated periodically as new data emerges. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to find out about updates, as well as other news about publications, projects and initiatives from the Vanier Institute.
Learn more about families and food in Canada:
- (Still) Eating Together: The Culture of the Family Meal (Transition article)
- When Cupboards Are Bare: Food Insecurity and Public Health (Transition article)
- House and Home: To Keep or Not to Keep the Living Room and Dining Room (Transition article)
- Time to Eat? Eating Patterns of Canadians (Fascinating Families)
- Nutrition in Canada (fact sheet)
This Statistical Snapshot publication is dedicated to David Northcott, CM, OM, retired Executive Director of Winnipeg Harvest Food Bank and a founder of both the Canadian Association of Food Banks and the Manitoba Association of Food Banks. David recently completed his second full term on the Vanier Institute Board of Directors, where his enthusiasm, dedication to family well-being and generous heart has had an impact on the entire Vanier Institute team.
Published on September 20, 2017