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- Fighting Food Insecurity with Income-Based Solutions is the Focus of New ‘Rethink Poverty’ Campaign -

With more than one in 10 local households being ‘food insecure,’ boosting income is the only solution to helping people gain access to healthy food.

Food insecurity is a situation where people do not have enough food or worry there is not enough to eat because they do not have enough money. To help raise awareness of food insecurity, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is launching a new Rethink Poverty: Change Minds, Change Lives campaign. People are asked to visit www.rethinkpoverty.ca to learn more about food insecurity and what they can do to solve it. The Rethink Poverty site includes resources and videos about food insecurity, and most importantly, a template letter that residents are encouraged to email to their MPPs and MPs. The letters ask area politicians to continue supporting and pushing for income-based solutions like a higher minimum wage, better employment standards and a Basic Income Guarantee.

“We know many low-income earners in Northumberland County, Haliburton County, and the City of Kawartha Lakes are food insecure, especially those working in low-paying, unstable jobs,” says Rosie Kadwell, a Registered Dietitian with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Working full-time hours at minimum wage no longer guarantees someone can afford basic needs, including food and rent.”

While ‘food charity’ (such as food bank use) may address food insecurity in the short-term, it is not a long-term solution. Poverty is the root cause, and the only way to fix the problem is to provide people with more income, Kadwell adds.

The Health Unit’s message for people to ‘rethink poverty’ is bolstered by findings from its annual Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey for 2017. The Nutritious Food Basket tracks the affordability of healthy foods for individuals and families in the area. According to the Health Unit’s NFB calculations, on average it costs approximately $882 per month for a family of four (two adults, one teenager and one child) to eat healthy in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes in 2017. While the Health Unit’s NFB costing for 2017 is very similar to the 2016 finding, increases in other monthly expenses mean people’s incomes are not keeping pace.

“We continue to see situations where rising costs for rent, utilities, hydro, clothing and some food make it difficult for people who rely on social assistance, disability benefits and minimum-wage jobs to pay all their bills,” Kadwell says. “This is leading some low-income earners in our community to put off buying healthy food so they can pay for other basic needs of life.”

Lack of healthy food leads to poorer health and higher medical costs, which makes a stronger argument in favour of income-based solutions like a higher minimum wage, better employment standards and a Basic Income Guarantee. “Food insecurity affects all of us, and income-based solutions are an investment that pays off in improved wellbeing for residents and lower health care costs,” Kadwell says.

One example of an income-based solution is the Basic Income Guarantee currently being piloted in Lindsay and two other areas of Ontario. “The Basic Income Guarantee is timely and worth supporting,” she adds, as it would ensure everyone (regardless of work status) is guaranteed a minimum level of basic income, greatly helping to address food insecurity here and across Ontario.”

For media inquiries, contact:

In Haliburton County - Rosie Kadwell, Registered Dietitian, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 3238.

In Northumberland County - Kimberly Leadbeater, Registered Dietitian, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1275.

In City of Kawartha Lakes - Aisha Malik, Registered Dietitian, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2300

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