Hungry in Toronto

Food insecurity in Canada is growing. The struggle to afford food now affects more than four million Canadians. It’s profoundly linked to bad health — and to higher medical costs. The man in these photos, Matt, is one of hundreds of thousands of Torontonians whose days are consumed with the struggle for food while trying to pay rent and manage his many health problems, including diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.


Commentary by Prof. Valerie Tarasuk (MSc ’87, PhD ’91), Department of Nutritional Sciences
Photos by Kristin Foster


Man walking in Toronto street at night.

Walking by any restaurant, even McDonald’s, where you smell food being cooked is frustrating if you’re hungry.


Man looking at cheque.Hunger is not a food problem. It’s a problem of people not having enough money to make ends meet. With his monthly disability cheque of $1,040.20, Matt is in a better situation than many. And yet his days are defined by an all-consuming worry about food and the struggle to find it. It’s hard to imagine how anything will get better for him


Man walking into food bank (church).So far, our main response to hunger has been food banks. But food charity can’t solve this problem. The number of people struggling to put food on the table is far higher than the number using food banks, and food banks can’t provide enough help for those who do use them. We need to rethink how we support people who can’t earn enough to meet their needs.