Many Thunder Bay Residents Finding it Harder to Afford Healthy Food

"Food is becoming harder to afford for low income people," was the resounding message from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit's (TBDHU) recently released Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket survey. The annual Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket survey consists of visiting 5 grocery stores in the city and 1 store in the district to price 67 food items--such as fresh produce, milk and meat--to determine the lowest available price for healthy food at the grocery store.

Over the last 10 years the results have consistently shown that people living on a low income do not have enough money to afford healthy food after paying for other essentials, such as rent, transportation and child care. For example, a single man living on Ontario Works would have a monthly income of $625. After he pays for rent and other essentials, he would be in debt $167.30 if he were to also buy healthy food. A family of four living on social assistance would fare little better. With a monthly income of $2,175, 49% of their budget would go to rent, 40% to purchasing healthy food, leaving only 11% ($231.38) for other expenses like heat and hydro.

Two of the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy's Administrative Committee members, Catherine Schwartz-Mendez from the TBDHU and Gwen O'Reilly from the Northwest Ontario Women's Center, were interviewed about the survey findings and what it means for health and well-being in the area. Check out what they have to say by watching the TBT News clip and listening to the CBC radio interview! You can also download the four page Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket report.

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