• Lindsay RN - SMDHU

Household Food Insecurity in Simcoe and Muskoka – Nutritious Food Basket

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) conducts the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey every year. The survey is conducted in 6 grocery stores in both Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka. There are 67 foods listed for the survey and the prices of each food item is recorded. These 67 foods could be used to prepare meals and snacks that follow the guidance of Canada’s Food Guide.

The information collected in the survey helps to measure the cost of basic healthy eating across Simcoe and Muskoka. The information also helps assess whether or not lower-income residents have enough income to pay for a healthy diet and rental housing. The rental information is based on local Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Market Rental Report data.

Health units use local NFB survey results and rental information to assess whether income from social assistance, pensions or minimum wage employment is sufficient to cover the cost of healthy food and rent. In 2018 for the first time Simcoe Muskoka income/expense scenarios have been developed using income amounts established for individuals and families participating in the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. This is helpful in illustrating the economic difference that a Basic income could have for households with very low incomes, such as those receiving social assistance.

Unfortunately, year after year, NFB survey results indicate that Simcoe Muskoka residents living on low incomes are unlikely to have enough money to cover these basics. For people receiving social assistance or working for minimum wage, the cost of food and rent is likely to use up most of their income, and in some cases exceed it, even before considering other basic costs such as telephone, transportation, clothing, school supplies, household and personal care items.

The following chart outlines the 2018 County of Simcoe NFB cost scenarios:

The following chart outlines the 2018 District of Muskoka NFB cost scenarios:

It is important to note that due to the unique characteristics of each area it is NOT appropriate to compare Simcoe and Muskoka results with one another.

As was reported in the blog post on No Money for Food is Cent$less campaign, there are many ways that individuals, community organizations and other interested groups can advocate for policies that help make sure everyone has enough money for safe, nutritious, and affordable food.

Examples of these income enhancing policies include:

· increase social assistance rates to match real living costs, indexed to inflation,

· support fair workplaces and good jobs with regular hours and benefits,

· increase minimum wage; and

· provide a basic income for all Ontarians.

There are ways you can get involved in helping to encourage these policies. These ideas include:

· sharing one of the videos posted on the No Money for Food is Cent$less website on your own social media accounts;

· contacting your local MP or MPP to express your concerns about household food insecurity in your community; and

· writing a letter to the Premier and all provincial party leaders asking for income enhancing policies so everyone has enough money to feed their families with dignity

For more information please call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or toll free: 1-877-721-7520.


© 2020 by Urban Pantry, a program of CMHA funded by Ontario Trillium Foundation