By Toronto Star |

Black households in Canada are almost twice as likely as white households to have trouble putting food on the table due to lack of money, according to groundbreaking new research based on Statistics Canada’s community health survey.

This is the case even when Black people are homeowners and have the same income, education levels and household makeup as white people, said Leslie Campbell, director of programs for FoodShare, which partnered with the University of Toronto on the research.

The data shows for the first time that there is a direct correlation between race and food insecurity, independent of all other factors, said Campbell, who presented the findings at a FoodShare conference on food justice and equity on Wednesday.

“When you look at the whole population, there are certain factors that are seen as being protective,” Campbell said in an interview. “But when you look only at the Black population … all of a sudden, they don’t apply.”

“For example, while it matters greatly for white folks whether your household is headed by a single parent, for Black households, you have a significantly higher probability of food insecurity regardless of your household composition,” Campbell said.

The study suggests “there are other factors — structural barriers that Black communities are having to navigate — that mean the rules don’t apply in the same way when it comes to protection,” he said.

The findings impact everyone, he told the conference. That is because people in households struggling to pay for food cost Ontario’s health care system an average of $3,930 annually, more than twice as much as those in households where food is plentiful, who cost the system an average of $1,608.

The findings are based on data pooled from five Canadian community health surveys from 2004 to 2014 and include responses from almost 500,000 individuals. The study focuses on respondents who answered all the questions on household food security and who reported their ethno-racial identity as either Black or white.

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