The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) has released its 2022 Nutritious Food Basket Report ‘Addressing Food Insecurity and Poverty in the County of Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County’. The report highlights the cost of healthy eating when compared to different household income scenarios.
The health unit estimates an average family of four (two adults, a teen and child) would have spent just over $1,100 per month towards eating healthy in 2022. The ‘Nutritious Food Basket’ consists of more than 60 food items that are healthy and commonly purchased. Items not included in the food basket costing are essentials like soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, and other personal care items.
The report compares the incomes and expenses of several household scenarios to show how different incomes can affect healthy eating across the County of Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County, such as a family of four on minimum wage, a single parent on social assistance with children, single adults and seniors.
“When families cannot afford the quality or amount of food they need to stay healthy, they are food insecure,” said Sarah Tsang, Registered Dietitian and Health Equity Coordinator with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Many families do not have enough money left over to buy healthy food after paying for rent and utilities.”
The comparison of household incomes and expenses for each scenario includes monthly income, average monthly rent and percentage of income required for rent, cost of nutritious food basket and percentage of income required to purchase healthy food, and money remaining for other basic needs.
Some key findings within the ‘Addressing Food Insecurity and Poverty Report for 2022’ include:
Average monthly incomes range from $863 (Single adult receiving Ontario Works) to $9,323 (Family of four with average median income).
25.9 per cent of households living in rental housing are food insecure.
Only 20 per cent of those that are food insecure use food banks or food charity programs.
63.1 per cent of Canadians relying on social assistance were food insecure.
It has been over 20 years since Ontario has made major changes to social assistance programs.
“Food banks were created to provide temporary relief and cannot address the issue of insufficient incomes, which is the root cause of poverty and food insecurity,” says Tsang. “Reducing food insecurity will need to include income-based strategies such as increasing minimum wage to a living wage, improving employment standards, increasing social assistance rates that reflect the true costs of living, and providing a basic income guarantee in Canada.”