Expense of healthy food considered a serious public health problem in Canada

Chatham-Kent Public Health officials are reporting that affordable and healthy food is becoming more of a challenge in the area and that something must be done about it.

A report presented to the Board of Health on Wednesday stated the average cost of feeding a family of four in Chatham-Kent last year was $203.59 a week, which is up five per cent from $193.31 the previous year. The costs were obtained from six different local grocery stores.

The report showed that low-income households spent up to 39 per cent of their income on food, not because food costs too much, but because their incomes are too low.

“Household food insecurity, the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints is a serious public health problem in Canada,” said the local health unit.

Public health officials said there are significant financial pressures on families and individuals living on low incomes in Chatham-Kent. They added those living on low incomes have little — if any — money left over to cover basic monthly expenses, including nutritious food after paying for regular food and shelter.

“Those experiencing food insecurity often report suboptimal health, multiple chronic conditions, and depression,” read the report. “These individuals also note that food insecurity also impacts their ability to perform activities at home, work, or school due to their health status.”

As a result, federal politicians in Ottawa are being urged by Chatham-Kent Public Health to update Canada’s food policy and outdated tools to improve nutrition and public health to reflect Canada’s new Food Guide. Local health officials said at this time there isn’t a standard tool that is used across Canada to measure food affordability.

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