Health Unit discusses food insecurity in Parry Sound
Food insecurity is happening in Parry Sound.
That’s according to the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. One in seven households don’t have enough money to ensure there is food in the house.
It can take a number of forms from worrying about running out of food to going with less healthy, cheaper foods, to outright skipping meals because there is not enough money.
“Food insecurity is a serious public health problem. It greatly impacts health and well-being,” says Erin Reyce, Public Health Dietitian at the Health Unit. “Being food insecure increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and depression, and in turn, is associated with higher health care costs.”
The 2018 Cost of Healthy Eating Report reveals that a family of four needs $884 monthly to eat a basic healthy diet. In a low-income household that could mean not being able to pay for other basics such as heat, hydro, transportation, phone, and child care.
Reyce says one of the solutions is to get income-related policy measures strengthened in the province to reduce poverty rates. Reports show that 64 per cent of households on social assistance is food insecure.
The health unit passed a resolution in support of Bill 60 earlier this week, which is legislation calling for the establishment of a social assistance research commission. This would consist of a group of experts to make recommendations on social assistance policy, including rates that reflect the real cost of living in Ontario.
Locally the health unit monitors food costs through the Nutritious Food Basket Project. It samples 12 area grocery stores surveying the cost of select food items from Canada’s Food Guide. The cost of healthy eating is then compared to local rental rates and income scenarios to determine food affordability.