The cost of feeding a family of four has gone up over the last year.
As part of its annual Nutritious Food Basket Survey, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says feeding a family of four is eight percent more expensive than it was in 2018. Locally, one in eight households does not have enough income to support a basic healthy diet, as established by the Canadian Food Guide. That represents about 70,000 people in the region, while the Health Unit says about 1,500 children are going to school or bed hungry, often on a daily basis.
“This is a serious public health problem in Ontario and Simcoe Muskoka,” said public health nutritionist Vanessa Hurley. “Children who go to school hungry may not reach their learning potential. Children who are food insecure experience more asthma and depression. Being food insecure can increase the risk of negative pregnancy and birth outcomes as well.”
This year, the survey found that a single adult, living alone in Ontario works is spending 139 per cent of their income on food and rent. A family of four on Ontario Works is spending 89 per cent of their income on food and rent. Little or no money is left over for all other expenses like utilities, internet and phone, transportation, clothes, school supplies, medical, vision and dental care, or child care.
“By the time people are experiencing food insecurity they have not only run out of cash, but have tapped out other income sources – they have borrowed from others, used up credit, sold off valuables, moved to cheaper accommodations, delayed paying bills, etc. to get money for food,” Hurley explained.