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Local food affordability study sees increase in the cost of healthy food

The cost of a healthy diet was unaffordable for many Haldimand and Norfolk residents in 2023, according to a new report from the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU).


Each May, the HNHU collects food affordability data using the Ontario Nutritious Food Basket Survey tool. Sixty-one items, including fruits and vegetables, protein foods and whole grain foods, are priced in nine grocery stores across the two counties to calculate how much it would cost to eat a diet based on Canada’s food guide 

The cost to feed a Haldimand or Norfolk family of four a healthy diet in 2023 was $1,122.43 per month ($259.22 per week), which is a 5.5 percent increase from 2022. After analyzing the data, the HNHU has concluded that while many families struggle to keep up with the rising cost of food and other living expenses, those receiving social assistance have an especially high risk of experiencing food insecurity. The report shows that a single person receiving Ontario Works would need to spend 47 percent of their income on food to follow Canada’s food guide, an amount that is considered unaffordable when considering the other basic expenses an individual has, such as rent and transportation.  

Food insecurity, defined as not having enough money to buy food, is a serious public health problem. In adults, it is associated with increased rates of chronic diseases, mood and anxiety disorders, infectious disease, injury, oral health issues, as well as premature death. In children, severe food insecurity may increase the risk of asthma and mental health disorders.  

Despite increasing food costs, retail sales data suggests that families are spending less on groceries. “As a dietitian, this is quite concerning,” said Laura Goyette, a public health dietitian at the HNHU. “It suggests that to make ends meet, people are starting to compromise on either the amount or quality of food they are buying, which could lead to negative health outcomes in the long-term.” 

For more information about food insecurity, please see the attached infographic or visit