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Food insecurity


Food insecurity means not having reliable access to enough safe and nutritious food that meets personal and cultural needs. This indicator looks at the number of children(aged 0-14 years) who are living in households where food runs out sometimes or often.

*Note: this is also a Child Poverty Related Indicator

New Zealanders identified having regular access to nutritious food as one of the key things under the outcome “Children and young people have what they need”. Many children, young people and their families and whānau experiencing food insecurity regularly worry about having enough money to buy food, skip meals or are reliant on charity or emergency grants for their basic food needs. In New Zealand, food insecurity is usually the result of having insufficient money to pay for food.

Food security is essential in order for children and young people to be happy and healthy, and learning and developing. Children living in food insecure households are less likely to consume nutritionally balanced diets essential for optimal growth and development, and this can have immediate and long term negative consequences for their health and education. Household food insecurity has been associated with a wide range of child health and development problems from infancy through to adolescence, including but not limited to: child obesity, poor academic performance, and developmental and behavioural problems.

Food security can also contribute to the outcome “children and young people feel loved, safe and nurtured”. Although caregivers often shield children from the severity of the household's food insecurity by moderating their own food consumption, the increased stress on them and their families and whānau can also impact on parental mental health and parent-child relationships. Family meals are often central to spending quality time together.

This indicator relates to the 'have what they need' outcome.

How will this be measured?

  • This indicator draws on data from the New Zealand Health Survey supplementary food security module. “Food running out” is one of eight questions that make up the food insecurity index.
  • This indicator will be updated annually.

For more information

Last updated: 
Thursday, 23 July 2020