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Why Food Insecurity and Poverty Disproportionately Affects Racial Minorities in Canada

By Lara Sharma

Contributing Author

Race has a drastic impact on food insecurity and poverty. Racial minorities in Canada, such as Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour, are disproportionately affected by these prominent issues. The definition of poverty is the lack of financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. Poverty is connected directly to food insecurity as many of the factors leading to the disproportional poverty rates are also factors of unequal food insecurity. Food insecurity is a term defined as the inability to access food (hunger). It is exceptionally prominent in Canada and has many factors contributing to it. Poverty and food insecurity disproportionately affect racial minorities in Canada due to systemic racism. Systemic racism plays a huge role in the everyday lives of people of colour. It comes in a variety of different forms, such as economic, employment, and income discrimination.

Poverty is very prominent all over the world and impacts people in our own country. In Canada, 1 in 20 non-racialized families live in poverty, while a staggering 1 in 5 racialized families are in poverty. The main reason for this inequality is economic discrimination. People of colour generally get paid significantly less than their white counterparts. In Canada, people who do not belong to a visible minority have an average income of $50,225, while Black people have an average income of $35,310. This vast disparity between incomes is money that could help pay for food, shelter, and other necessities. People of colour generally also have less access to jobs and are hired less often. People of colour are hired less often than their white counterparts, leading to higher unemployment rates within these communities. In Canada, people who don’t belong to racial minorities have an unemployment rate of 9.3%. In comparison, South Asian unemployment rates are 17.8%. The inability to access jobs and be hired and wage inequality cause a lack of financial resources for people of colour. Due to this, they are disproportionately impacted by poverty as they cannot afford essentials to meet a minimum standard of living.

Food insecurity is something that often comes hand in hand with poverty. Racial minorities are more likely to experience food insecurity as well. There are more than four million people facing food insecurity in Canada. Only 10% of white households are affected, while 28.4% of Black households face this. Black people are 3.56 times more likely to experience food insecurity than non-racially marginalized groups. The drastic difference is due to the disproportionate levels of poverty and the consequences of racism. As the poverty rates for people of colour are so uneven, the rates of food insecurity for people of colour are also strikingly higher. When living in poverty, people don’t have the means to afford food consistently, or at all. Economic and employment discrimination also contribute to food insecurity. They cause people of colour to be put into positions where they lack the financial means for nourishment. Research also suggests that over-policing, racial profiling, and consistently facing racism contribute to higher rates of food insecurity among people of colour. Racism causes a lot of psychological stress on its victims. It can cause people to feel discouraged to continue in everyday life. Rates of depression, suicide, and anxiety are also glaringly higher among people who face racism. These prominent mental health issues make it difficult for people to provide nourishment for their families, further contributing to food insecurity.

Systemic racism is the reason why people of colour have disproportional rates of food insecurity and poverty. It causes Black people to have the highest representation among people who live in poverty while working and within low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto. It is what causes 25% of Indigenous people to live in poverty. We must demand fairness for all, and we must do that by donating, spreading the word, and supporting food banks!


Roberts, M. (2020, February 3). Black Food Insecurity in Canada. Broadbent Institute.

Chen, J. (2021, May 19). Poverty. Investopedia.,needs%20can't%20be%20met.

Daily Bread Food Bank. (2020, June 16). Anti-Black Racism and Food Insecurity in Canada. Daily Bread Food Bank.

Hagan, S. (2020, August 7). Black, Asian workers see biggest jobless rate spikes in Canada - BNN Bloomberg. BNN.

Just the Facts. Canada Without Poverty. (2020, July 29).

Poverty in Canada. Canadian Poverty Institute. (n.d.).,Indigenous%20children%20live%20in%20poverty.&text=Women%20are%20also%20more%20likely,generally%20earn%20less%20than%20men.

Slaughter, G., & Singh, M. (2020, June 7). Five Charts that Show What Systemic Racism Looks Like in Canada. CTVNews.

University of Toronto. (n.d.). Household Food Insecurity in Canada. PROOF.

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the contributing author. Rising Sun Food Drive Foundation makes every effort to provide space for young people to advocate and voice their thoughts, research, opinions and ideas that are inspired by our mission but may not reflect on the organization's services and operations.

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