Food And Housing Costs Stress Household Budgets – Something Has To Give

A tower of sandwiches rises even higher than the city skyscrapers behind it
This image is published as a public domain image CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)
The need for food rises even above the need for shelter

This is a post about food. It is a basic necessity, but frequently sacrificed in the face of paying for housing. Welfare cuts in 1995 drew attention to a growing tension between food and shelter in Ontario. For the first time since the Great Depression in the 1930’s, public attention was drawn to the challenge of paying the rent and feeding the kids1

Food organizations fill some of the gaps in the system. The first two articles in this post are drawn from stories across the United Kingdom. There are four themes that run through these stories:

  • The number of families accessing charitable food sources is growing quickly.
  • People who are seeking support from food organizations for the first time are embarassed to be asking for help.
  • Food organizations have expanded their offerings beyond putting cans on shelves. New developments include hot meals, opening garden plots, planting fruit trees and sourcing culturally appropriate foods.
  • Food is being offered as an expression of communities caring for one another.

Clearly, these agencies don’t see the need for their services ending any time soon. You can read about four of these organizations in The Guardian: ‘Why should anyone be hungry when there’s food that can be given away?’ The heroes feeding their neighbours

The second article is also in The Guardian, and reports the issue from a different perspective. It’s about a couple who came upon the issue of food security when they retired. You can see how skills honed over years in the work force become compassionate responses to struggling neighbours: A new start after 60: we planned a quiet retirement – but ended up fighting food poverty

The third article returns to Ontario, where this post started. It is also about retirement, this time from the perspective of someone who accesses food organizations regularly to keep food on her table. Her story clearly expresses the strain of high housing costs. Read more in Mcleans: I’ve worked hard my whole life and I can’t afford food


  1. Read more at the Income Security Advocacy Centre: Pay the Rent and Feed the Kids