Food Affordability in York Region: The 2022 Nutritious Food Basket Report
Everyone has noticed increases in the price of food. Unfortunately, struggling to put food on the table is a reality for many York Region residents. This leaves adults and children vulnerable to food insecurity.
The 2020 Canadian Income Survey showed that approximately 15 per cent, or approximately 1 in 7 households in York Region experienced food insecurity in the past year.
Food insecurity is not the same as hunger. Individuals who experience food insecurity range from worrying about affording food to eating less nutritious meals to going whole days without food due to not having enough money. Food insecurity is linked to poor mental and physical health and can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety disorders.
The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) is a tool that monitors food affordability in York Region. It is a survey that is used to collect the lowest prices of 61 foods that make up a healthy diet. The foods in the NFB reflect Canada’s Food Guide and do not include convenience foods, snack foods, or infant formula.
Each year, York Region Public Health collects the lowest cost for these foods from nine local grocery stores and calculates the cost of the NFB. Costing this past year was completed using a hybrid model which included in-store and online costing. The cost of food is then compared with income and local rental rates which provides a snapshot of the important role income plays in food affordability.
For many low-income households in York Region, healthy eating is not affordable. Whether a family of four, an older adult living alone or a single parent of two children, many of the scenarios in the NFB show that social assistance is not enough to pay for rent and food.
Food insecurity is not about a lack of food, it’s about a lack of income. Likewise, income is a key factor in food affordability. Improving the social and economic conditions of families and individuals is essential to reducing food insecurity. Research supports policies that improve income such as jobs with living wages, basic income and increasing social assistance rates.
Everyone has a role to play in addressing food insecurity. Individuals can:
- Learn more about food insecurity
- Spread the word and share
- Volunteer or host a free tax clinic in order to help individuals receive eligible provincial and federal benefits and assistance programs
To learn more about food insecurity and the 2022 Nutritious Food Basket, please visit york.ca/foodinsecurity.