Cost of Healthy Eating Still Too High for Many

Posted on Thursday January 23, 2014

Variety of healthy foods

The Board of Health passed a resolution last night asking the Ontario government to increase minimum wage and social assistance rates. Currently, the rates are too low to cover the costs of living, including the ability to purchase healthy food. Progress has been made in recent years by the Ontario government through the Poverty Reduction Strategy,  but more must be done to ensure adequate incomes to support food security.

In 2013, the cost for a family of four to eat healthy for one week in our district was about $193.38, an increase of 2.7% since 2012. When this cost is combined with rent rates and other living expenses, many people do not have enough money to make ends meet. This prevents many Ontario families from raising healthy kids.

Families are especially at risk for food insecurity. In Canada, one in six children live in a food insecure household, while one in eight Canadian households are food insecure.  People who work for minimum wage or receive social assistance are often forced to turn to food banks and soup kitchens to supplement their diets.

Health and well-being are significantly linked to household food security. Children who experience hunger are more likely to develop depression and asthma later in life. Adults who are food insecure are more likely to develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. These conditions are then difficult to manage when individuals face food insecurity.

For more information about the cost of healthy eating in our district, you can read The Price of Eating Well 2013 on


“Ethically, it is hard to promote Canada’s Food Guide when we know many people cannot afford to eat healthy. We are asking the Ontario Government to do more to reduce poverty rates and ensure healthy food is accessible to all.”

- Erin Reyce, RD,
Public Health Dietitian

Quick Facts

  • Food insecurity can mean many things, including:
    • worrying about running out of food before having money to buy more
    • not being able to afford a balanced diet
    • skipping meals or going hungry because there is not enough money for food.
    • Poverty is the most common reason for household food insecurity. Of the one in eight Canadian households that are food insecure, 61% are employed. This indicates that current minimum wage rates are inadequate.
  • While food banks and soup kitchens provide an emergency food service, the amount and types of food they provide do not meet the nutritional needs of their clients.
  • The Health Unit monitors the cost of healthy eating annually through the Nutritious Food Basket project. You can find The Price of Eating Well Report on the Health Unit website.

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