Child hunger

What is it?

Child Hunger is based on two data sources: annual data about food bank clients from the Daily Bread Food Bank, and Grade 7 and 8 students’ responses to a question from the TDSB Student Census asking how often they eat breakfast or a snack in the morning.

Why is it important?

The City of Toronto Children’s Charter declares that all Toronto children shall be entitled to adequate nutrition on a consistent basis. Despite this commitment, many children in Toronto do not have adequate or nutritious foods. Access to adequate and nutritious foods is important for children’s physical and mental health and development. Hungry children get sick more often, and can be impaired in their physical growth and development. Children who come to school hungry often have trouble learning, and have lower academic achievement. They may also experience social and behavioural problems. Hunger affects every aspect of a child’s life.

What does it mean?

More children are visiting food banks in 2017 than in 2008. Figure 2 shows that while the proportion of food bank visits by children has remained around 30%, the absolute number of visits has increased. Figure 3 shows that in 2017, 39% of households with children using a food bank have gone hungry for an entire day due to lack of money. Results from the TDSB Census show that 7% of grade 7 and 8 students never eat breakfast before school. Not eating breakfast before school can be due to lack of food or choice. Figure 1 shows neighbourhoods in Toronto where students report eating breakfast every day.

Figure 1: Percent of students who eat breakfast every day, TDSB (Grades 7 and 8), 2011

Figure 3: Percent of households with children using a food bank who haven’t eaten for an entire day in the last year due to lack of money, Daily Bread, 2008 to 2017