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Local food costs up 5% over five years

SIMCOE, ON, APRIL 9, 2008 – The weekly cost of food for a family of four has increased by about 5% over the past five years in Haldimand and Norfolk, compared to 10% for Ontario as a whole.

That statistic is contained in the annual Nutritious Food Basket report released this week by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

The food basket concept, which is used throughout Ontario, prices 66 common food items annually to measure the cost of healthy eating based on Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating and Health Canada’s Nutrition Recommendations.

The report also quotes data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, showing that 3.78% of families in Haldimand and Norfolk indicated they felt food insecure without hunger compared to 1.61% of families feeling food insecure with moderate hunger. Those results are higher than the provincial averages of 3.26% and 1.35% respectively. Nationally, 14.7% of households report food insecurity.

Food security is defined as people having access at all times to nutritious, safe, personally acceptable and culturally appropriate foods obtained through normal (e.g., not food banks) food distribution channels.

“Many low-income families in our area and Ontario as a whole do not have enough money to pay the rent and feed their families an adequate and nutritious diet,” said Health Unit Population Health Program Coordinator Jill Steen.

“For food-insecure families, putting food on the table is a constant struggle,” Steen explained. “Because food expenditure is one of the flexible components of the household budget compared to shelter costs, food expenditure suffers. So, when fixed costs rise, money spent on food suffers.”

Individuals in food-insecure households have worse dietary intakes than households with sufficient food,
resulting in inadequate intakes of a number of nutrients, including folate, iron, zinc and vitamin A. Food insecurity is also associated with poor health. Managing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and food allergies, is especially difficult with insufficient food. The 2005 Canadian Community Health survey found Haldimand and Norfolk Counties had a higher incident of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease when compared to the provincial average.

Media contact: Jill Steen, Program Coordinator, Population Health,
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, 519-426-6170 Ext. 3238 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3238