Low Income as the Source of Food Insecurity

The finding from the National Children’s Nutrition Survey that the percentage of children who did not eat during the school day nearly doubled for those living in the most deprived households underscores the link between inadequate income and food insecurity.  The earlier Perceived Food Inadequacy study did not directly examine this link as the current school decile rating system was yet to be implemented at the time the study was conducted.  This meant that it was not possible to systematically and reliably identify those schools with a high proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Instead, researchers focused on the ethnicity variable, finding that the schools who reported the greatest number of children without lunch provisions were those with the highest percentage of Māori and/or Pacific students.[1]  As the proportion of children living in low-income households is higher for Māori and Pacific populations than for European/Pākehā (see Figure 1)[2], the link between inadequate income and food insecurity is thus also borne out by the Perceived Food Inadequacy study.

Go to Significance


[1] Food Nutrition and Consultancy Services, Final Report to the Public Health Commission on the Perceived Food Inadequacy Among Children in Schools (Dunedin, NZ: University of Otago, 1995), 97.

[2] Ministry of Health, Pacific Child Health: A Paper for the Pacific Health and Disability Action Plan Review (Wellington, NZ: Ministry of Health, 2008), 7.