After Rent and Food Costs, Little to Nothing Left at Month's End for 1 in 7 Households: Ottawa Public Health Report – The Epoch Times

A new report from Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says one in seven households in the nation’s capital city are facing “food insecurity,” defined as “inadequate or unstable access to food due to financial constraints,” with poverty being the root cause.
The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) is a survey normally conducted by the OPH each year in May to measure the cost of basic healthy eating. However, due to COVID-19 priorities in 2020 and 2021, this is the first year since 2019 that the survey has resumed.
The estimated cost to feed a family of four in Ottawa is $1,088 per month based on the cost of a nutritious diet, according to the NFB. The survey results suggest that individuals and families living on fixed or low incomes don’t have enough money left at the end of the month to pay for fixed expenses and other necessities while also putting healthy food on the table.
“Families often choose between paying for fixed expenses (such as rent and utilities), other necessities (such as clothing, childcare, medication, transportation, and dental care) and buying groceries,” the survey said.
The survey includes a few income scenarios. A family of four receiving financial assistance through the Ontario Works program, with two adults and two children aged 14 and 8, receives a total monthly income of $2,760 and spends an average of $1,881 per month on rent, representing 68 percent of that total. If the family were to spend $1,088 for nutritious food, it would be $209 in the negative each month. There would be no money for school fees, medication, bus passes, or any other necessary living expenses.
Another scenario is a one-person household on the Ontario Disability Support Program, with a monthly income of $1,309. The average rent of $1,280 consumes 98 percent of that income, and the cost of groceries based on a nutritious diet is estimated at $392. That household would then be minus $363 by the end of the month, before paying any additional bills.
A family of four with two adults and two children where only one adult is working and is earning minimum wage takes home an estimated income of $3,973 a month and would spend $1,881, or 47 percent, just for rent. By the time they purchased healthy food, at $1,088, that family would have $1,004 remaining each month for all other expenses.
A female senior over the age of 70 receiving Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits would receive $1,885 per month. After spending $1,280 on rent, or 68 percent, and $293 on groceries, she would be left with just $312 for all other expenses.
The basket is based on the average lowest cost of 61 nutritious food items priced from 14 stores across Ottawa, with those foods chosen from the 2019 Canada’s Food Guide. The NFB foods fall under four main categories: fruits and vegetables, protein foods, whole grains, and fats and oils.
The survey took place between May 17 and June 6 and included 12 stores in the city and two stores in rural areas.
According to the survey, food insecurity is closely linked to negative physical and mental health outcomes and is a strain on the health-care system.
Only basic foods are included in the NFB. Excluded are items such as processed and convenience foods, foods eaten outside of the home such as at restaurants, infant foods, special diet foods like allergen-free foods, and personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste, diapers, and toilet paper.


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