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HNHU Survey Finds Cost of Healthy Food Out of Reach for some Households

SIMCOE, ONTARIO February 9th, 2018– According to the 2017 Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey conducted by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU), it costs a family of four about $868 for a month’s worth of healthy groceries.

The NFB is a survey conducted every year by the HNHU to determine the cost of eating a healthy diet. The survey looks at the lowest average cost of 67 food items from a variety of grocery stores across both counties. It is based on the general eating pattern of Canadians as well as Canada’s Food Guide.

This year’s survey revealed that individuals and families living on minimum wage or social assistance would spend 53-109% of their income on rent and healthy food. In comparison, a family earning an average income would spend just 22% of their income on rent and food.

While some increases in income were observed over the past year, there are still many individuals and households with incomes that do not cover basic needs. “A single male on Ontario Works would go $67 into debt after paying for just rent and healthy food,” said Laura Goyette, public health dietitian with the HNHU. “After comparing income to expenses, it becomes easy to see why some people struggle to put healthy food on the table.”

Food insecurity is defined as not having enough food or worrying that there is not enough food to eat due to financial constraints. Food insecurity plays a significant role in health. “Being food insecure is linked to one’s health and well-being. It impacts both physical and mental health, including increased risks of depression, diabetes and high blood pressure,” Goyette said. “It doesn’t just impact people who are unemployed. Working individuals and families actually account for over half of food insecure households in Ontario.”

Goyette recommends supporting and advocating for income responses to food insecurity, such as the provincial basic income pilot project and indexing social assistance rates to the true cost of living. “The root cause of food insecurity isn’t a lack of knowledge or skills, but a lack of income,” said Goyette.

For more information, visit the Food Programs and Resources section of

Media contact:
Kimberly Dias

Manager, Health Promotion

Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

519.426.6170 Ext. 3152

[email protected]