Myths: "Poor people don't have it so bad."
"If people would just budget their money better, and not buy stuff they don't need, they would have enough money."
Fact: Families can't afford healthy, nutritious food.
The cost of a Nutritious Food Basket for a family of four is $179.10 per week. 1
A family of four on social assistance will spend 37 per cent of their income on buying healthy food compared to 13 per cent for a family of four with a median Ontario income (after tax). 2 Note: A family of four consists of two adults (31 to 50 years of age), an eight-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.
11.5 per cent of local households experience food insecurity due to lack of money 3, compared to 10.2 per cent of Canadian households. 4
Families headed by single mothers were eight times more likely to report that their children were hungry.5
- In Lindsay, there was a 39.3 per cent increase in the number of people using food banks from September 2007 to September 2008. This was the third highest increase in all of Ontario. 6
- Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank is accessed as many as 2,600 times per month by local residents. 7
- In Haliburton County, an average of 255 households used food banks on a monthly basis in 2010.8
What is Food Insecurity?
Food insecurity is defined as "the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so". 9 Food insecurity includes problems in obtaining nutritionally adequate and safe foods due to a lack of money to purchase them, or the limited availability of these foods in geographically isolated communities. 10
What is the Nutritious Food Basket?
The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey is a provincial tool for monitoring the cost of a nutritious diet for individuals and families over time. It includes food items and is designed to reflect an example of an eating pattern that meets Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and eating behaviours reflective of the Canadian Community Health Survey. The NFB does not included toiletries, person care items, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies and laundry soap, etc.
Every year, Health Unit staff collects data from local grocery stores meeting selection criteria established by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Rethink Poverty: Change Minds…Why is it important?
Poor people run out of money for food because their food budget is flexible, unlike fixed payments such as rent and power bills. Many factors can tip a vulnerable individual or family into hunger. These include increases in rent and energy costs, another mouth to feed, job loss, and health problems. 11
Studies show that family income must increase by $3,827 in order for a family to leave the hunger state, but a loss of only $2,690 could tip a family into hunger. This shows how fragile food insecure families are and how easily their situation can change and slip them into the hunger state in any given month or year. 12
Food insecurity means poorer health and more chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes. Children who live in poverty and go to school hungry have more difficulties concentrating and learning in school.
"Current minimum working wages and levels of social assistance are insufficient to ensure food security, particularly among lone mothers..."
- Lynn McIntyre, Professor, Dalhousie University and Valerie Tarasuk, University of Toronto 13
Rethink Poverty: Change Minds...
Living in Poverty is Not a Choice!
1. Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. Nutritious Food Basket, 2012
2. Source (1): Ontario Public Health Association, Food Security Working Group, Nutritious Food Basket Scenarios, May 2011. Source (2): Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Nutritious Food Basket, May 2011.
3. Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2005. (Note: Respondents stated they worry that there would not be enough to eat, did not have enough food to eat or did not eat the quality or variety of foods they wanted to eat.)
4. and 5. Public Health Agency of Canada. The Social Determinants of Health: Food Security as a Determinant of Health. (cited on Aug. 18, 2011)
6. Ontario Association of Food Banks. Ontario Hunger Report 2008: The Leading Edge of the Storm, December 2008, pg. 6.
7. Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank. Correspondence with Board Member, June 2011.
8. Haliburton Highlands Food Bank. Food Net Statistics, 2010.
9. Davis B. and Tarasuk V. (1994). Hunger in Canada. Agriculture and Human Values, 11, 50-57. (cited on Aug. 18, 2011)
10. and 11. Public Health Agency of Canada. The Social Determinants of Health: Food Security as a Determinant of Health. (cited on Aug. 18, 2011).
12. and 13. McIntyre L., Walsh G. and Connor S.K. A Follow-Up Study of Child Hunger in Canada. Working Paper W-01-1-2E. Applied Research Branch, Strategic Policy, Ottawa, Human Resources Development Canada, June 2001. (cited on Aug. 18, 2011)