A number is never just a number: Food for thought

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Got change? Want change? Spare some and get some by becoming a member of rabble.ca today.


The year the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the human right to food. That right is more clearly spelled out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Canada signed on in 1976. (Source)


The year the first food bank opened in Canada -- in Edmonton, Alberta. (Source)


Number of food banks operating in Canada in 2007. (Source)


Approximate number of Canadians who turn to food banks every month, up from almost 714,000 who reported using a food bank in 1998. (Source and source)


Canada is the ninth richest country in the OECD. (Source)


Percentage of Canada's poorest 10 per cent of households who reported being food insecure in 2005. Food insecure: lacking access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs. (Source and source)

1.9 million

Number of Canadians, aged 12 or over, who lived in food insecure households in 2007-08. (Source)


Percentage of Canadian families with at least one child under six who were food insecure in 2007-08. That's one in 10 families. (Source)


Percentage of First Nations adults aged 25-39 who reported they were hungry but could not afford to buy food in 2007-8. (Source)


Cost of a three-litre jug of orange juice in Nunavut. Residents have begun to protest the high cost of food in the North. (Source)


Percentage of income Canadians spent on food in 2010, down considerably from 18.7 per cent in 1969. (Source and source)


Percentage of household spending for the poorest 20 per cent of Canadian households devoted to food, clothing and shelter in 2009. The richest 20 per cent spent only 27 per cent of their budget on these items. (Source)


Percentage of edibles Canadians toss into the garbage every year. That amounts to $27 billion worth of food that goes into landfill and compost each year. (Source)


Percentage of Canadians' food bill that went to eating in a restaurant in 2010. Going to a restaurant is reportedly the number 1 preferred activity for spending time with family and friends in Canada. (Source and source)

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's Trish Hennessy has long been a fan of Harper Magazine's one-page list of eye-popping statistics, Harper's Index. Instead of wishing for a Canadian version to magically appear, she's created her own index -- a monthly listing of numbers about Canada and its place in the world. Hennessy's Index -- A number is never just a number -- comes out at the beginning of each month.

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.