SIMCOE, January 13, 2016 – In Haldimand and Norfolk, it costs a family of four $32 more per month to consume a healthy diet compared to last year. This represents a 3.7% increase since 2014.
The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) is a survey conducted every year by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit to determine the cost of eating a healthy, balanced diet, which is a diet that includes foods from all four food groups. The survey looks at the lowest average cost of 67 food items from a variety of grocery stores across both counties.
According to the most recent survey conducted in May 2015, it costs a family of four about $871 every month to purchase a healthy diet.
For a family of four who earns a median income in Ontario, the cost of food represents about 13% of their budget, while 11% is spent on rent. In comparison, a family of four on Ontario Works or earning minimum wage or a single parent with two children on income assistance will spend about 30-35% of their income on rent, and 30-40% of their income on a healthy diet. “This leaves little to no money for other essentials, such as transportation and clothing,” said Laura Goyette, public health dietitian with the HNHU. The survey also indicated that a single male on Ontario Works cannot afford to cover the cost of both rent and healthy food without going into debt.
Food insecurity is closely linked to health and well-being. “Poor mental and physical health, including higher rates of chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure have been found in adults living in food insecure households,” said Goyette.
Food insecurity affects a variety of households. “We know that working families make up more than half of food insecure households in Ontario,” said Goyette. She recommends that advocacy efforts need to focus on improved social assistance rates, improved employment opportunities, increased access to affordable housing and an exploration of a basic income guarantee in order to combat food insecurity in Haldimand and Norfolk.
For more information, go to www.hnhu.org and access the 2015 The Real Cost of Eating Well in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties summary report.
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Public Health Dietitian
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3247