A Recipe for Hunger: Incomes Prevent Many from Eating a Healthy Diet

World Food Day – October 16, 2015
Poverty and Hunger a Problem in Peterborough

Health Unit Releases 2015 Report “Limited Incomes: A Recipe For Hunger”

At the Board of Health meeting earlier this week, the Peterborough County-City Health Unit released its annual Limited Incomes: A Recipe For Hunger report based on the recent Nutritious Food Basket survey.  This year’s report shows once again, that people living on low incomes in our community cannot afford to eat a healthy diet.

The report is timely with October 16 marking the United Nations’ World Food Day and the challenge of Let’s Be the Zero Hunger Generation.   Hunger exists in our community with 11.5% of households reporting food insecurity.  This means that people worry about where their next meal will come from, do not have food or skip meals.  Food security is necessary for good health.

“It is distressing to see the health of thousands of local residents compromised because social assistance programs, and low wages, don’t provide enough income for them to afford nutritious foods,” said Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, Medical Officer of Health.  “It’s well known that when people gain food security it not only improves their overall quality of life but reduces future strain on the health system. One in four households with children under 18 years of age experience food insecurity.  This is a public health crisis that requires urgent attention.  We need cooperation and action from all levels of government.”

While the Limited Incomes report notes local food prices have increased by 16.6% over the past two years, the main issue for residents is not the cost of food, but that their incomes are too low. For example, after paying for his shelter costs, a single man receiving Ontario Works benefits would experience a monthly deficit of $221 each month if he spent the $291 required for a nutritious diet, after paying his shelter costs, and without considering other basic necessities such as clothing, transportation and medical costs.  In this case, social assistance benefits are clearly inadequate to cover the cost of a healthy diet and also meet basic living expenses.

To access a copy of the 2015 Limited Incomes: A Recipe For Hunger report, please visit www.pcchu.ca, click on “About Us” and then “Plans and Reports”.

For more information about World Food Day, visit the Nourish Project Blog at http://nourishproject.ca/zero-hunger-generation.