According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s (SMDHU) 2022 Nutritious Food Basket survey, buying basic healthy food has become “nearly impossible” for some within its medical region.
The survey is done annually as a way to monitor food affordability in SMDHU’s medical region. It measures how much it costs for individuals and families to afford basic healthy food.
According to the annual survey’s results, the rising cost is living is the root of the problem causing many to find healthy food unaffordable.
“When people have no other option but to cut their food budget to pay for other essential fixed expenses, they are experiencing household food insecurity,” says Vanessa Hurley, public health nutritionist and registered dietitian. “The struggle to put food on the table is real for many of our residents – one in six households are experiencing some level of food insecurity. Without access to nutritious foods, people may begin to experience negative health outcomes that can last a long time and even a lifetime.”
SMDHU officials say the results show it costs $419 for a one-person household to buy basic groceries for the month. That number balloons to $1,159.92 for a family of four. The number accounts for both Simcoe and Muskoka residents.
“What we need are policies and programs at all levels of government that reduce poverty and help people afford basic healthy food and the cost of living,” says Hurley. “This includes increased social assistance rates, jobs that pay a living wage, and more affordable housing options in our communities. We need to reduce household insecurity rates in our communities – it affects us all and we all have a role to play”.
SMDHU has posted the survey results on its website.