2017 Household Food Insecurity & Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket Health Indicator Report

Purpose of the Health Indicator Report

The purpose of this health indicator report is to provide information about household food insecurity and the cost of basic healthy eating in Halton Region.

Background

Household food insecurity refers to the inability of a household to access adequate and nutritious food due to a lack of money. A nutritious food basket reflects the cost of a basic healthy diet that meets the nutrition recommendations of Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and represents the average purchasing patterns of Canadians. It is used to monitor the affordability and accessibility of foods by relating the cost of the food basket to individual and household incomes.

This health indicator report uses data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) for the section on household food insecurity and data from Halton Region Registered Dietitians for the section on the Nutritious Food Basket. The Nutritious Food Basket data are based on the methods outlined in the guidance document from Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Definitions

Food secure and marginally, moderately, or severely food insecure are defined below. For this report, the food insecure category includes households that were marginally, moderately, or severely food insecure. These categories were combined to ensure a large enough sample size for analysis.

  • Food Secure: No indication of difficulty with income-related food access
  • Marginal Food Insecurity: Some indication of worry or barriers to adequate, secure food access
  • Moderate Food Insecurity: Compromise on quality and/or quantity of food consumed
  • Severe Food Insecurity: Reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns

Household Food Insecurity

In 2013/14, 6.8% of Halton households and 12.2% of Ontario households were food insecure, and this difference was statistically significant.

There were no statistically significant changes over time in the percentage of households that were food insecure in Halton or Ontario.

Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket

In 2017, the cost of a basic healthy diet for a family of four (two parents and two children) living in Halton was $212.47 per week. The average cost of a healthy diet in Halton has increased by 3% since 2016, and by 59% since 2003. The average cost of a nutritious food basket in Ontario decreased slightly from $205.45 in 2016 to $204.00 in 2017.

Low Income Scenarios for 2017

The monthly low income scenarios for 2017 show that low income households continue to struggle to pay rent, buy food for a nutritious diet, and pay basic expenses.

Halton Monthly Low Income Scenarios for 2017:

Scenario 1- Ontario Works (single man, age 31):

  • Income: $706
  • Additional benefits and credits: $89
  • Total monthly income: $795
  • Average rent in Halton: $904(Bachelor)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $310
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: None, needs to find another $419

Scenario 2- Ontario Works (single mother, age 35, with a boy age 14 and a girl age 8):

  • Income: $1019
  • Additional benefits and credits: $1319
  • Total monthly income: $2338
  • Average rent in Halton: $1324(2 bedroom)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $695
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: $319

Scenario 3- Ontario Disability Support Program (single man, age 45):

  • Income: $1128
  • Additional benefits and credits: $102
  • Total monthly income: $1230
  • Average rent in Halton: $1160(1 bedroom)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $310
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: None, needs to find another $240

Scenario 4- One full-time minimum wage earner (A family of 4: a man and a woman age 35, a boy age 14 and a girl age 8. One parent working at $11.40 per/hour for 40 hours per/week):

  • Income: $1691
  • Additional benefits and credits: $1384
  • Total monthly income: $3075
  • Average rent in Halton: $1562(3 bedroom)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $920
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: $593