The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham

The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham
The Price of Eating Well
               in Durham Region
According to Durham Region Health             Understanding the Nutritious Food
Department data, some families in Durham      Basket
Region cannot afford a healthy diet.
                                              The tool only includes the cost of healthy
Let’s take a closer look to see why…          food items. Processed foods and food
                                              with little or no nutritional value (such as
Rising Costs                                  coffee, soft drinks and potato chips) are
                                              not included. The NFB does not take into
Over time, costs for housing, general         consideration any foods for special diets,
expenses and food have risen. As these        such as gluten-free products, or personal
expenses increase, the ability to purchase    and household care items like toothpaste,
healthy foods becomes a real challenge for    soap and cleaning supplies, all of which
many families.                                would result in additional costs.
What is the Nutritious Food Basket?           The health department found that in June
                                              2018, the NFB for a family of four in Durham
The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB)1 is a tool   Region was $197 per week. This is a 21
used by Durham Region Health Department       percent increase from May 2009 (see Figure
each year to provide a measure of the         1). As food prices continue to rise, the risk of
average cost of a basic healthy diet for a    food insecurity also increases.
family of 4.
The Nutritious Food Basket assumes that:
  • most people have the time, food skills
     and equipment to be able to prepare
     most meals from scratch
  • people have access to grocery stores
The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham
Figure 1: Cost of the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) for a Family of 4, Durham Region
    and Ontario, 2009 - 2017

    *Data for Ontario is not available until Dec 2018. Based on the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2013/2014

    Household Food Insecurity in Durham                                             Food Insecurity: Who is most affected?
    Region                                                                            • People living on social assistance
                                                                                        find that after paying for rent
    For many families in Durham Region,                                                 and utilities, there is not enough
    the inability to purchase and/or access                                             money to buy healthy food.
    nutritious food is a reality. Household                                           • 34% of single parent households
    food insecurity is defined as inadequate                                            with children (under 18 years) in
    or insecure access to food because of                                               Durham Region are food insecure.2
    financial constraints. Food insecurity
    is a serious local issue, with 12% of                                             • People on fixed incomes - such
                                                                                        as those receiving Ontario Works,
    Durham Region households being food                                                 Ontario Disability Support
    insecure.2 (see Figure 2). This represents                                          Program or working full time at
    approximately 78,000 Durham Region                                                  minimum wage - have difficulty
    residents. For these families, being food                                           buying foods that make up a
    insecure means:                                                                     healthy diet (see Figure 3).
       • worrying that food will run out
       • having to compromise on the
           quality and/or quantity of food
           they eat
       • having to reduce their food intake
           or skip meals

The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham
Figure 2: Household Food Insecurity, Durham Region, 2013-2014, CCHS

The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham
Figure 3: Household Food Insecurity in Ontario by Selected Socio-Demographic
    Characteristics, CCHS*, 2013-2014

    ^: Results need to be interpreted with caution as coefficient of variation (CV) is between 16.6% and 33.3%, inclusive. The CV is a measure of variability.
    CV is a measure of precision of the estimates. Higher CV usually indicates that the estimates are less precise and reliable.. An estimate with a CV over 33.3%
    is not releasable.
    ‡: Results for this group are not reportable as Coefficient of variation (CV) is greater than 33.3%
    a: Households were grouped into three categories based on their income. “Low” income includes the lowest 30% of households, “medium” includes the
    middle 40% of households, and “High” includes to highest 30% of households.
    b: Children under 18 years of age
    * CCHS: Canadian Community Health Survey
    ** EI: employment insurance

The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham
Key risk factors in household food insecurity are:2
     • Low income                               • Health conditions requiring a
     • Budget shocks - e.g. job loss,              special diet
        unexpected medical expenses,            • Lack of transportation
        increased housing costs
     • Geographic isolation

Figure 4: Self-reported Health Outcomes by Household Food Insecurity Status,
Ontario, 2013-2014 CCHS

     In general, people living in food
     insecure households are more
     likely to experience conditions of
     poor mental health, more stress
     in life, anxiety disorders, asthma
     and early cessation of exclusive

The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham
Table 1: What’s Left After Shelter                                                                Family of Four
                                                                                                         Ontario Works
                                                                                                                             Family of Four Full-
                                                                                                                               Time Minimum
                                                                                                                                                      Family of Four
                                                                                                                                                     Median ONTARIO
                                                                                                                                                                             Single Parent
                                                                                                                                                                            Household with
                                                                                                                                                                                                  One Person
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       One Person
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             One Person
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Household, Old
       and Food Costs?                                                                                                         Wage Earnersm        Income (after tax)n    Children, Ontario
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Ontario Works       Ontario Disability
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Support Program
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Age Security/
       Durham Region Nutritious Food
       Basket Scenarios - June 2018
       Scenario References13

       Monthly Calculations                                                                               Scenario 1             Scenario 2             Scenario 3            Scenario 4          Scenario 5            Scenario 6           Scenario 7


       Income from Employment                                                                                                         $ 2427.00              $ 7967.00

       Basic Allowanceb                                                                                          $ 486.00                                                           $ 354.00            $ 337.00               $ 662.00

       Maximum Shelter Allowanceb                                                                                $ 744.00                                                           $ 686.00            $ 384.00               $ 489.00

       Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplementc                                                                                                                                                                                            $ 1470.00

       Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income Systemd                                                                                                                                                                                                     $ 83.00

       Canada Child Tax Benefite                                                                               $ 1130.00               $ 1087.00               $ 389.00            $ 1130.00

       GST/HST creditf                                                                                            $ 71.00                $ 71.00                                      $71.00              $23.00                $ 31.00             $ 36.00

       Ontario Trillium Benefitg                                                                                 $151.00                $ 151.00                                     $122.00              $66.00                $ 69.00            $ 105.00

       Working Income Tax Benefith                                                                                                       $ 13.00

       Employment Insurance paidi                                                                                                       $ (40.00)            $ (125.00)

       Canada Pension Plan paidj                                                                                                      $ (106.00)             $ (360.00)

       Total Income                                                                                            $ 2582.00              $ 3603.00             $ 7871.00             $ 2363.00            $ 810.00              $ 1251.00           $ 1694.00

       Selected Expenses

       Average Monthly Rent (may or may not include heat/hydro)k                                                  (3 Bdr.)               (3 Bdr.)               (3 Bdr.)              (2 Bdr.)         (Bachelor)               (1 Bdr.)            (1 Bdr.)
                                                                                                               $ 1348.00              $ 1348.00              $ 1348.00             $ 1190.00            $ 852.00             $ 1034.00           $ 1034.00

       Foodl                                                                                                     $ 853.00               $ 853.00              $ 853.00              $ 614.00            $ 239.00               $ 239.00            $ 174.00

       Total Selected Expenses                                                                                 $ 2201.00              $ 2201.00             $ 2201.00             $ 1804.00           $ 1091.00              $ 1273.00           $ 1208.00

       Funds Remaining (for other basic needs e.g. telephone,
       transportation, child care, household and personal care items,
       clothing, school supplies etc.)                                                                          $ 381.00              $ 1402.00             $ 5670.00              $ 559.00           $ (281.00)              $ (22.00)           $ 486.00

       Percentage of income required for rent                                                                          52%                    37%                    17%                   50%             105%                      83%                  61%

       Percentage of income required to purchase healthy food                                                          33%                    24%                    11%                   26%                 30%                   19%                  10%

6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               7
    NOTE: Shelter costs may or may not include utilities; all dollars rounded to nearest whole number.
The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region - Region of Durham
Food insecurity and Health...
                                                   •   Among seniors, malnutrition can
    Did You Know?                                      result in a loss of muscle mass and
                                                       strength, which can lead to disability
    The inability to purchase nutritious foods         and loss of independence.
    and the emotional and psychological
    stress that that comes from that, can lead   For those who are food insecure,
    to many serious health problems. At any      managing these health implications is
    age, not eating enough nutritious food       extremely challenging. As stated, food
    can put people at greater risk for chronic   insecurity is linked to household income.
    disease, infection and lowered immunity.     When income is low, people do not have
                                                 enough money for rent, bills and food. Any
    Specifically:                                illness or health challenge that results in
      • During pregnancy, poor birth             additional medical costs and/or impacts an
         outcomes such as neural tube            individual’s ability to work, places further
         defects, low birth weight and           strain on individual or family finances and
         anemia are often related to maternal    their ability to purchase healthy food. The
         health and nutrition.4,5,6,7,8          cycle between food insecurity and poor
      • Food insecurity contributes to           health is a difficult one to break, resulting
         the early cessation of exclusive        in significant costs to the health care
         breastfeeding in Canada.3               system and society.
      • During infancy, poor nutrition
         may slow growth and cognitive           In Ontario in 2008, chronic diseases related
         development.                            to poverty and food insecurity alone
      • Children and youth who experience        carried a health care cost of ~ $2.9 billion12
         hunger are more likely to suffer from   - much more than would be needed to
         chronic conditions including asthma     prevent them by improving ongoing
         and depression and find it harder to    access to a healthy diet.
         concentrate and learn in school.9
      • Food insecurity can lead to negative     When Money is Tight, How Do People
         psychosocial outcomes in children,      Cope?
         while teenagers are at risk of            • People cut back on their food
         suffering from depression, social           budget to pay for shelter and other
         anxiety and suicide.10                      costs of living.
      • Adults living in food insecure             • People are forced to skip meals or fill
         households have poorer physical             up on cheap food that is not always
         and mental health, as well as higher        nutritious.
         rates of many chronic conditions,         • They may eat less fruit, vegetables,
         including:11                                whole grains and milk products as
         {{ Depression                               these are often more costly.
         {{ Type 2 diabetes
                                                   • Parents living on low incomes feed
         {{ Heart disease
                                                     their children first. They will go
         {{ Hypertension                             without eating to ensure that their
                                                     children can eat. As a result, the
                                                     parents’ nutrition and health suffers.

Figure 5: Compared to Ontario Median
  •   As a last resort, people are forced to    Income Families (72%), Families on OW have
      use food banks that generally offer       only 15% Left over for Other Needs, 2018
      approximately three days’ worth of
      food. Food banks were never meant
      to be a long-term solution to food
How much does it cost each month to eat

According to data collected from the
Durham Nutritious Food Basket in June
2018, the cost of feeding a family of four in
Durham Region was $853 per month.
  • For a family of 4 with an Ontario
     median income of $7,871/month, the
     monthly cost of the Nutritious Food
     Basket ($853) represents 11% of this
     family’s income.
  • In contrast, for a family of 4 on the
     Ontario Works monthly income of
     $2,582/month, the monthly cost of
     the Nutritious Food Basket represents
     33% of their income (Figure 5).

How Do We Know Some People Don’t
Have Enough Money For Food?                        *Total household income after tax based on a two-income family

A summary of some real life situations for
people living in Durham Region appears
in Table 1. These scenarios show that after       After paying rent and utility bills, what
paying for shelter and food, minimum wage         would you do if there wasn’t enough
and part-time earners and households on           money left to buy nutritious food?
fixed incomes have little, if any, money left
over to cover other basic monthly expenses        For many families in Durham Region this
such as transportation, telephone, personal       is the reality. When faced with the choice
care items, household products and clothing.      of paying the rent or going hungry, many
The amount of household spending on food          families are forced to go hungry. The
and shelter is roughly 4 times greater for
those at the lowest income level than for         impact of which has serious consequences
those at the highest.                             for health.

What can you do to help?

     With your Client
      •   Support clients in accessing training e.g. education bursaries, training subsidies.
      •   Support clients in searching for jobs.
      •   For information about supports and resources available to promote healthy
          eating during pregnancy, breastfeeding and making an informed decision about
          infant feeding refer them to Durham Health Connection Line 1-800-841-2729 or

     What can you do to help?

     Within your Agency / Organization
      •   Increase awareness among staff of the issues - inform staff of the reality of food
          insecurity in Durham Region. Share The Price of Eating Well in Durham Region
          newsletter with your staff.
      •   Post the Food Poverty in Durham infographic poster at your agency.
      •   Encourage and recognize voluntarism among your staff (i.e. encourage staff to
          participate in community support programs such as a school breakfast club in
          your neighbourhood and recognize their efforts).
      •   Host Discover Your Inner Chef! workshops at your organization for your clients.
      •   Build advocacy opportunities for your clients into your current food programs.
      •   Learn more about infant feeding practices among mothers living in Durham
          Region. Visit and search “Infant Feeding Surveillance”.
      •   Support a breastfeeding friendly environment in your workplace (for clients
          and staff ); welcome breastfeeding anytime, anywhere. Call Durham Health
          Connection Line 1-800-841-2729 to request resources that support and promote

What can you do to help?

Within your Community
 •   Learn about strategies that address poverty and ensure healthy food for all -
 •   Advocate for a national food security program that ensures equal access to safe
     and nutritious food for all Canadians.
 •   Participate in coalitions that address:
     {{ Poverty

     {{ Affordable housing

     {{ Affordable child care

     {{ Food insecurity

References available online at

           Durham Health Connection Line
           1-800-841-2729 or 905-666-6241
           If you require this information in an accessible format, contact 1-800-841-2729.

Oct 2018
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