Thursday, March 29, 2012
Oxford County Public Health and Emergency Services
Annual Nutritious Food Basket Results Announced
Oxford County Public Health & Emergency Services released its 2011 annual report on the Nutritious Food Basket Survey today, The cost of healthy eating in Oxford County. Results from the 2011 survey show it cost $189.59 per week to feed an average family of four a healthy diet, an increase of 12.3% from the cost of buying the same items in 2010.
The 2011 Ontario average, taken from the food costings of all 36 of the province’s health units, was $177.83 per week for an average family of four, an increase of 5% from the previous year.
The current nutritious basket costing tool includes 67 foods from all four food groups at the lowest available price in a specific size, regardless of brand. Nutritious foods include vegetable and fruit, whole grains, milk and milk alternatives, and meat, legumes, eggs and fish. It does not include processed convenience foods, snacks, household products or personal care products, nor does it make allowances for special dietary needs, activity levels, eating out or inviting others for a meal. For these reasons, the cost of the nutritious food basket is usually lower than actual food spending for an average family.
Food insecurity exists in Oxford County and is continuing to rise. Results from the Canadian Community Health Survey 2009-2010 show that 9.3% of Oxford residents feel food insecure. The Salvation Army in Woodstock reports that it had provided food for 3,001 people in 2010, a quarter of which were children under 12 years old. It is well documented that children in food insecure households have significantly worse dietary intakes and eat fewer vegetables and fruit.
Oxford County Public Health is involved in several initiatives that aim to enhance food security in our community, including running school nutrition programs throughout the County (snack or breakfast programs), educating teens about prenatal nutrition, and supporting the Oxford County Food Charter through its administration of the Healthy Communities Fund.
The Nutritious Food Basket survey is a required program of public health units across Ontario to help monitor the cost and affordability of healthy eating. The information from the survey is used to help communities address local poverty and food security issues through advocacy, awareness, education and policy development. To download the report visit www.oxfordcounty.ca/health.
“The cost of healthy eating in Oxford County rose dramatically last year, making it even more of a challenge for lower income families to eat well and enjoy the proven health benefits of a nutritious diet. Through the Nutritious Food Basket report, we are able to provide a picture of food security challenges in our community so that people understand the issue and have a sense of what needs to be done to address it.”
- Abby Bryan-Pulham, Dieititian, Oxford County Public Health & Emergency Services
- Oxford County’s nutritious food basket estimates the average cost of feeding up to 22 different age and gender groups, as well as a reference family of four (male and female aged 31 to 50 years, a boy 14 to 18 years, and a girl four to eight years old). Nine grocery stores throughout Oxford County are surveyed.
- In 2010, an average of 1,612 families and individuals in Oxford County received Ontario Works assistance each month.
- In 2011, the reference family of four on Ontario Works was required to spend approximately 36% of income on housing and 38% on healthy food. A family earning median income in Ontario typically spent 13% of its income on rent and 13% on healthy food, leaving a much higher percentage of income for other expenses such as utilities, internet, child care, household and personal care items, clothing, etc.
Table 1, “The cost of healthy eating in Oxford County”: Oxford County cost of basic food for average family of four. A comparison of the cost of the Nutritious Food Basket in 2009, 2010 & 2011.
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