The cost to feed NWO family keeps rising

The cost of feeding a family continues to be a problem for many in northwestern Ontario. Every year the Northwestern Health Unit surveys grocery stores in our region to determine the cost of healthy food. This cost continues to increase year after year. The 2013 survey shows that the cost of feeding a family of four is $995.16 per month, making the right to food impossible for some families.
“As the cost of living continues to rise in the Kenora-Rainy River Districts families are finding it harder to make ends meet,” says Julie Slack, Public Health Nutritionist with the Northwestern Health Unit. She continues, “While food does cost more in our region, the real problem is that people don’t have enough income available for food and other basic living expenses. Incomes are not increasing at the same pace as the costs of living.”
Findings published in 2013 by the Income Security Advocacy Centre, an agency developed by Legal Aid Ontario, indicate that social assistance rates in Ontario have increased only 10.6% since 2006. The minimum wage rate, even with recent increases, is still too low. Slack explains, “After fixed living costs such as housing, child care, hydro, and gasoline are paid, families cannot afford basic healthy food to support health.” Every person needs and has a right to regular access to enough healthy and culturally acceptable food for an active, healthy life. “We need to ensure that adequate food is available for all community members every day,” says Slack.
The Northwestern Health Unit uses the annual survey results to advocate for better income levels, access to affordable housing and quality child care, and to make healthy foods accessible to all.
What can you do to help?
- Get in the know about the issues and where people can get help. Visit your local
Northwestern Health Unit for a list of community food programs, voucher programs
and information about eating well on a tight budget.
- Take action to reduce the effects of poverty. Support the creation of a living wage,
affordable housing and quality child care.
- Donate food, money or your time to programs that increase access to food like
school meal and snack programs, community kitchens, community gardens, food
banks and food boxes.
- Get involved in your community. People who do not have enough food to eat are
single or married, young or old, working or unemployed, educated or not educated,
and come from all walks of life. We can all help to ensure our community’s needs
are met.