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Food insecurity equals not being able to access healthy foods

The Cost of Eating Well Still Out of Reach for Some Local Families

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Perth County – Each year, the Perth District Health Unit monitors the affordability of food in Perth County by costing out a Nutritious Food Basket. The average cost of 67 basic food items, such as fruit, vegetables, bread, eggs and meat, is calculated by visiting six local grocery stores. Currently, it costs about $202 per week, or $876 per month, to purchase healthy food for a family of four. Although this year’s food basket came in at $7.50 per week less than the 2016 basket, being able to afford nutritious food is still out of reach for some Perth County families.

The Health Unit considers the cost of the Nutritious Food Basket in the context of various income situations of local families as well as fixed costs like housing. “Year after year, this exercise shows that people living on low incomes will be unable to purchase enough healthy food for themselves and their families after paying other expenses like rent,” says Natalee Ridgeway, Public Health Dietitian. For example, a family of four receiving Ontario Works would need to spend about one third of their income on nutritious food, compared to a family who earns the median Ontario income and spends just 11% of their income on food.

Food insecurity is a serious public health issue. Living with food insecurity has a tremendous negative impact on both physical and mental health in adults and children. It is linked to increased risk of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.

The Health Unit is advocating for income-based solutions to address poverty and food insecurity, including a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG). A Basic Income Guarantee would guarantee a minimum income for Ontarians, regardless of employment status. A pilot is currently underway in three communities in Ontario.

Food insecurity negatively affects health and well-beingWhat can you do to help?

  • Talk to others and local politicians about issues of poverty and hunger in our community
  • Volunteer to support local programs, such as community meals, food banks, the Local Community Food Centre, and school nutrition programs
  • Donate a variety of non-perishable food, toiletry items, or money to food banks on a regular basis
  • Support the local economy by buying local food and products.

For a copy of the Cost of Eating Well report, please call Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267.

For More Information

  • Call Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267.
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An image explaining a single man on Ontario Works.