Grey Bruce Health Unit: The Cost of Eating Well in Grey and Bruce Counties
The Nutritious Food Basket
The Nutritious Food Basket is a costing tool that measures the cost of basic healthy eating using the current nutrition recommendations from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and average food purchasing patterns from the Canadian Community
Health Survey 2.2.
Food costing monitors both affordability and accessibility of foods by relating the cost of the food basket to individual or family incomes.
Inadequate Income is a Significant Barrier to Healthy Eating
Food is a basic human need and is required for health. The cost of food can be a barrier to health for many people on a limited income. The Nutritious Food Basket annual report is a powerful policy and advocacy tool which can be used to raise awareness about the cost of healthy eating to assess the adequacy of social assistance rates or minimum wage incomes.
The 2015 Nutritious Food Basket survey found that it costs $199.55 per week ($864.05 per month) to feed a reference family of four (two parents, two children) in Grey and Bruce Counties.
May 05, 2014 3:50 PM CT Last Updated: May 05, 2014 6:04 PM CT
A child holds a sign at a protest against high food prices in Nunavut in June 2012. A new strategy from the Nunavut Food Security Coalition says helping people hunt and share more caribou, seal and other traditional foods could help tackle the ‘food security crisis’ in the territory. (Genevieve Nutarariaq/Facebook)
A new strategy from the Nunavut Food Security Coalition says helping people hunt and share more caribou, seal and other Inuit traditional food could help tackle the “food security crisis” in the territory.
Research has shown that Nunavut has the lowest levels of food security — defined as having access to safe, healthy food — in the country. A 2007/2008 survey found more than 70 per cent of Inuit households in Nunavut are food insecure, eight times the national average.
The Nunavut Food Security Coalition released its new strategy at a community feast in Iqaluit Monday evening.
Two years in the making, the strategy calls for a plan to increase the kinds of traditional food people are eating by promoting products such as turbot, a deep sea fish currently harvested in Nunavut for export, or whale meat.
The majority of people in Nunavut consume the outer skin layer of beluga, bowhead or narwhal, which is known as maktak in Inuktitut. The strategy also suggests new commercial harvesting of clams, urchins, scallops, crabs and mussels.
It also calls for more infrastructure for hunters and a rethink of the way hunters and harvesters are supported.
The food security coalition includes more than 20 organizations, including the Nunavut government and Nunavut Tunngavik.
It came out of Nunavut’s poverty reduction strategy, released two years ago, which called for a territorial action plan to tackle hunger.
Improving ‘life skills’
In addition to traditional food, the strategy suggests ways to enhance the availability and accessibility of store-bought food, by teaming up with grocery stores and helping to improve literacy and language skills that can be barriers to healthy shopping and cooking.
The strategy seeks to expand “life skills” in general. That would include everything from teaching people to navigate the grocery aisles to funding programs where elders pass on traditional hunting skills.
The strategy will also support nutrition programs in schools, such as school breakfast programs, as well as other community initiatives that provide nutrition or nutrition education to people in Nunavut’s small towns.
The 2008 recession may have hit six years ago, but Ontarians are still dealing with the aftermath. Full time jobs with benefits are merely a dream for thousands of Ontarians who are carrying the burden of a downtrodden economy. While salaries decrease, the cost of housing, hydro bills, childcare, and food are on the rise. The media and our governments may proclaim our economy is on the mend, but the people visiting food banks today paint a much different picture.
Food bank use in Ontario hit an all time high in March 2012, when 412,998 individuals relied on support from their local food bank during that month alone. Numbers have decreased slightly since, but food banks in this province are struggling to keep up with demand. Factory closures, company downsizing, and depletions of personal savings are leading many who once considered themselves middle-class Canadians, to turn to social support services to make ends meet.
The traditional idea of who uses a food bank is a myth. There are no traditional food bank clients. In fact, the largest group of individuals accessing food banks are children. Close to 40 per cent of food bank clients in this province are boys and girls under the age of 18.
Would you guess that two of the fastest growing groups of food bank users are senior citizens over the age of 65, and current post-secondary students and recent graduates? Did you know that there is a food bank or emergency food support program on almost every university and college campus in the province?
Hunger is a symptom of poverty. Food banks in our provincial network understand this, and are working tirelessly every day to alleviate poverty in their communities. By planting and tending to community gardens, lobbying their MPPs for raises to social assistance, hosting a job fair and resume writing session, building a community kitchen, and running after school snack programs, food banks are proving day-in and day-out that they understand what hunger looks like, and why it is happening.
At the provincial level, the Ontario Association of Food Banks strongly believes that the provincial government can and should take a more active role in tackling the root causes of hunger. That is why we are asking Queen’s Park to create a housing benefit for low-income tenants, develop a provincial food policy that ultimately provides access to affordable, nutritious food, and complete a thorough review of Ontario’s social assistance programs, while focusing on an increase in secure, quality employment.
This Hunger Awareness Week, ask yourself: who do you think uses food banks, and more importantly, why? Together, we can take a stand against hunger and poverty.
The hashtag for Hunger Awareness Week is #HungerWeek
For more information, please visit: OntarioHunger.ca or oafb.ca