Food insecurity can have a dramatic impact on the physical and mental health of those it affects. Food insecurity can include not having food as well as having limited access to nutritional foods, resulting in a poorer diet.
Adults in households experiencing food insecurity have poorer physical health than those that are food secure, and are more vulnerable to a variety of conditions including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and arthritis. Unfortunately, over time, this means that adults experiencing severe food insecurity have shorter lifespans on average than for those who are food-secure.
There is also a strong relationship between food insecurity and poor mental health. The more severe the experience of food insecurity, the higher someone’s risk of experiencing depression, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts. Children who experience food insecurity at an early age exhibit higher rates of mental health problems including hyperactivity and inattention.
Something else to keep in mind right now is that food insecurity is linked to a number of health conditions that are considered risk factors for more severe cases of COVID-19. This means that at the very same time that many people may struggling to access nutritious food because of the economic impact of the pandemic, they are becoming more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The impact of food insecurity is not limited to those who directly experience it. Healthcare costs are greater for food insecure households, and rise in proportion to how severe the level of food insecurity is. Even after adjusting for other factors, the healthcare costs that are incurred by an adult experiencing food insecurity in Ontario are more than double an adult who is not. Given that we all take part in sharing the cost of health care, reducing food insecurity in our region isn’t just the right thing to do, but it also makes financial sense. Donating to the JRCC’s new Kosher Food Bank program today is one way that you can help solve this problem and provide nutritious, culturally appropriate food to those in need, which in turn benefits us all.