HKPR District Health Unit Releases Food Insecurity and Poverty Report for 2023

HKPR District Health Unit Releases Food Insecurity and Poverty Report for 2023

Port Hope, ON (May 21, 2024) – The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit has released its 2023 Nutritious Food Basket Report titled ‘Addressing Food Insecurity and Poverty in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District area’. The report highlights the struggles faced by low-income families in the City of Kawartha Lakes, County of Haliburton, and Northumberland County to pay for necessities, such as housing and food, because incomes and social assistance rates are not keeping up with rising costs.

Within the Nutritious Food Basket Report, the HKPR District Health Unit compares the incomes and expenses of several household scenarios to show how much money would be left over for families and individuals after paying for housing and food. In some scenarios, those expenses alone exceed their income leaving not enough money to pay for other basic needs like utilities, phone, internet, and medications.

“When families don’t make enough money to buy food, they are food insecure,” says Sarah Tsang, Registered Dietitian and Health Equity Coordinator with the HKPR District Health Unit. “These families are forced to make hard decisions like if they will buy healthy foods or pay for other basics like rent and utilities.”

The HKPR District Health Unit estimates a family of four (two adults, two children) would have spent on average $1,184 per month towards eating healthy in 2023. In this household income scenario within the report, if the family earns minimum wage, they would have spent 28 per cent of their income on food that meets Canada’s Food Guide. After paying for rent, that would leave them with merely a few hundred dollars to pay for other basic living expenses.

Some key findings within the ‘Addressing Food Insecurity and Poverty Report for 2023 include:

  • 12.9 per cent of households in the County of Haliburton, 10.2 per cent of households in the City of Kawartha Lakes and 8.7 per cent of households in Northumberland County are considered low income and struggled to pay for rent, bills, and healthy food.
  •  In the HKPR district area, 39.8 per cent of tenant-households spent more than 30% of their income on housing.
  • There are more than 3,300 households waiting for community housing throughout Northumberland County, the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Haliburton County.
  •  Across the HKPR district, there are over 9,000 recipients of OW and ODSP combined.
  • Only 20 per cent of Canadian households experiencing food insecurity use food banks.
  • The 2023 Living Wage in the HKPR district area is $20.60 per hour.

“Food insecurity is a serious social and public health problem,” says Sarah Tsang. “In order to address food insecurity, we need income-based solutions that are long term and that focus on poverty reduction such as, adequate incomes, improving employment standards, increasing social assistance rates and providing basic income guarantee.”

Residents, municipal leaders, and community partners are encouraged to learn more about the issues impacting many households in our geographical area. It is also important to speak up for income-based solutions, support programs and services that make life more affordable, and support companies that respect the health and dignity of their employees. And, always remember to be kind and compassionate to friends, family and neighbours who may be struggling with food insecurity.

To read the full 2023 Nutritious Food Basket Report ‘Addressing Food Insecurity and Poverty in the County of Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County’, please visit hkpr.on.ca/FoodInsecurity.