2016 Household Food Security & 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 security and the cost of basic healthy eating in Halton Region.

Background

Household food security refers to the financial ability of households to access adequate food, which is strongly related to household income. A nutritious food basket reflects an example of an eating pattern that meets Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, and eating behaviours 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 household food security section of this indicator report, and data from Halton Region Registered Dietitians for the Nutritious Food Basket section of this indicator report. The Nutritious Food Basket data is based on the methods outlined in the guidance document from The Ministry of Health Promotion.

Definitions

Food secure, and marginally, moderately, or severely food insecure are four categories of food insecurity described in the table below. Marginally, moderately, and severely food insecure were combined into food insecure for this report to ensure a large enough sample size.

  • 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 in quality and/or quantity of food consumed
  • Severe Food Insecurity: Reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns

Household Food Security

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 percent of households that were food insecure in Halton or Ontario.

Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket

In 2016, providing a basic healthy diet for a family of four living in Halton (two parents and two children) cost $203.29 per week. The average cost of a healthy diet in Halton has increased by 2% since 2015, and by 55% since 2003.

The average cost of a nutritious food basket in Halton was similar to Ontario in 2016.

Low Income Scenarios for 2016

The monthly low income scenarios for 2016 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 2016:

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

  • Net income: $681
  • Additional benefits and credits (minus deductions): $87
  • Total monthly income: $768
  • Average rent in Halton: $876 (Bachelor)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $302
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: None, needs to find another $410

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

  • Net income: $1004
  • Additional benefits and credits (minus deductions): $1012
  • Total monthly income: $2016
  • Average rent in Halton: $1283 (2 bedroom)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $667
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: $56

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

  • Net income: $1110
  • Additional benefits and credits (minus deductions): $96
  • Total monthly income: $1206
  • Average rent in Halton: $1120 (1 bedroom)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $302
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: None, needs to find another $216

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 $11.00/hour, 40 hours/week):

  • Net income: $1950
  • Additional benefits and credits (minus deductions): $990
  • Total monthly income: $2940
  • Average rent in Halton: $1540 (3 bedroom)
  • Cost of a nutritious diet in Halton: $896
  • Amount left to cover basic expenses: $504