Generic fruits and vegetables. (Photo by © Can Stock Photo / Serg64)

Cost Of Healthy Eating Goes Down In CK

A local dietitian says healthy eating just got a bit cheaper for Chatham-Kent families.

Registered Dietitian Lyndsay Davidson says Chatham-Kent finds this information through the Nutritious Food Basket, which is a monitoring tool that shows the cost of eating well in different communities each year.

“The entire province does the tool, so we have an idea of what it costs in every single community across the province, which gives us the ability to do advocacy across the province so we know in certain areas the cost of food is a little bit more than others,” explains Davidson.

This year, the average weekly cost for a family of four has decreased by 3%.

“It fluctuates from year to year. Typically it does go up, occasionally there are years that it goes down. There are all kinds of factors that go into play,” explains Davidson. “This year we did have a slight decrease, 3% is not a lot but it is a little bit of relief. It’s the first time in a very long time that it has gone down.

Davidson says the basket contains 67 items that together form a healthy diet. These items include lots of fresh produce, canned goods, bread, milk, eggs, various meats, and other various kitchen staples.

“The current cost for a family of four is $191.90 per week. That doesn’t include things like your toiletries, your cleaning supplies, coffee, tea–stuff like that, so those things will add up significantly,” she says. “This gives you kind of those basic items to be able to have a healthy diet.”

For example, Davidson says a single man on Ontario Works or social assistance, between food and housing costs, only has about $26 a month left for everything else. This includes transportation, phone bill, entertainment, and all other expenses.

When residents have that little money left over, Davidson says they often take money out of their food budget and rely on soup kitchens or food banks. She says these resources do not change long-term food security status, but only provide short-term access and are not meant to be a regular source of food.

Davidson says the best way to deal with food insecurity is to ensure that we have a population that has sufficient funding. She says the Chatham-Kent Board of Health is advocating that the Ministry of Community and Social Services for an immediate increase in social assistance rates to reflect the cost of the Nutritious Food Basket and Housing costs.