Food for Thought

Hennessy's Index: A number is never just a number

Hennessy's Index

Hennessy's Index is a monthly listing of numbers, written by the CCPA's Trish Hennessy, about Canada and its place in the world. For other months, visit:

  • 1948

    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)
  • 1981

    The year the first food bank opened in Canada – in Edmonton, Alberta. (Source)
  • 673

    Number of food banks operating in Canada in 2007. (Source)
  • 900,000

    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 1, 2)
  • #9

    Canada is the ninth richest country in the OECD. (Source)
  • 22

    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 1, 2)
  • 1.9 million

    Number of Canadians, aged 12 or over, who lived in food insecure households in 2007-08. (Source)
  • 10.8

    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)
  • 17.8

    Percentage of First Nations adults aged 25-39 who reported they were hungry but could not afford to buy food in 2007-8. (Source)
  • $19.29

    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)
  • 14

    Percentage of income Canadians spent on food in 2010, down considerably from 18.7 per cent in 1969. (Source 1, 2)
  • 52

    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)
  • 40

    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)
  • 28

    Percentage of Canadians’ food bill that went to eating in a restaurant in 2010. Going to a restaurant is reportedly the #1 preferred activity for spending time with family and friends in Canada. (Source 1, 2)
July 1, 2012