How can it be that in a rich country like Canada, food insecurity, and its most extreme form—hunger—are not rare? In fact, 1 in 8 households in cover of Canadian Public Policy journalCanada is food insecure. Would an answer be apparent if we knew how the problem was talked about by our legislators?

In our paper … we examined how food insecurity is discussed in the Canadian political discourse, specifically in Parliament and in selected provincial legislatures. We analyzed the Federal Hansard records and those of three provinces over the last two decades to bring to light how Canadian politicians construct the problem of household food insecurity.

We learned in the political debates that food insecurity is inextricably linked to food banks in this country. Food banks are in fact the dominant charitable response to hunger in Canada, and have been since the 1980s. The problem is that food banks don’t address the fundamental cause of food insecurity – inability to afford food- and also cannot possibly on their own address the issue of hunger. As Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank points out, food bank use only scratches the surface of food insecurity: many who need help do not even use food banks.