Report reveals it’s ‘impossible’ for low income households to eat healthy

Report reveals it’s ‘impossible’ for low income households to eat healthy

It’s never cost more to fill your grocery cart in Huron and Perth counties.

“The cost for a family of four would be $267 per week, or $1,155 per month,” said Amy Macdonald, dietician with Huron-Perth Public Health.

The report ‘Real Cost of Eating Healthy’ paints an unsustainable picture of the rising cost of living in 2023, especially on low income households.

“What we really see is the people who are most impacted, are those living on social assistance. These incomes just aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. It’s impossible to be able to meet those needs on that cost,” said MacDonald.

The health unit’s report, which priced 61 food items at eight local grocery stores to find the average retail prices of a typical grocery bill, show that a family of four on Ontario Works needs to spend 41 per cent of income on food to meet Canada’s Food Guide.

The offices of Huron-Perth Public Health are seen in Listowel, Ont. in April 2021. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

The rising cost of rent means most Ontario Works households are spending 60 to 70 per cent or more of their fixed income on housing — and those worries are impacting those citizen’s overall health.

“People are facing more stresses today than ever before, I think. Just being able to feed their families and keep them housed. It’s a struggle, so we’re seeing really significant increases in the number of people coming forward,” explained Catherine Hardman, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of Huron-Perth.

“Just the nature of being constantly worried about being able to afford enough food has an impact on our health — that stress. But, also what we see is people have higher rates of chronic diseases, and higher rates of mental illness, amongst other impacts,” said MacDonald.

The ‘Real Cost of Healthy Eating’ is an annual report completed by Ontario Health Units. You can see the most recent report from Huron-Perth by visiting Huron-Perth Public Health’s website.