Healthy Eating Not an Option in Peterborough for Residents on Low Incomes

Peterborough Public Health Releases 2017 Report: Limited Incomes:  A Recipe for Food Insecurity

October 13, 2017

Peterborough Public Health has released its annual Limited Incomes: A Recipe for Food Insecurity report.  This year’s report shows Peterborough’s most vulnerable residents continue to suffer from an inability to eat nutritiously due to the cost and affordability of healthy eating and housing.

“It is distressing to see the health of thousands of local residents compromised because social assistance programs and minimum wage don’t provide enough income to afford nutritious foods,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health.  “It’s well known that when people are able to afford a healthy diet it not only improves their overall quality of life and their children’s lives, but also reduces further strain on the health system.  With 16.5% of our local households experiencing food insecurity, this is a public health crisis that requires the urgent attention and cooperation of all levels of government.”

While the report notes local food prices have increased by 14% over the past five years, the main issue for residents is not the cost of food, but that their incomes are too low.  For example, after paying for his shelter costs, a single man receiving Ontario Works benefits would experience a monthly deficit of $198 if he spent the $301 each month required for a nutritious diet not including other basic necessities such as clothing, transportation and medical costs.

To mark World Food Day, the Nourish Project in partnership with Basic Income Peterborough Network and the Peterborough Food Action Network, will be hosting a community talk entitled Basic Income and the Right to Healthy Food on Monday, October 16, 2017 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Peterborough Public Health featuring Josephine Grey, a human rights activist and founder of Low Income Families Together.  Copies of the Limited Incomes report will be available for the public.

The root cause of food insecurity and poverty is a lack of sufficient income.  “Programs such as food banks, community meal programs and emergency food access programs provide short-term relief to those who are in need,” stated Dr. Salvaterra.  “These short-term strategies are not enough and instead, we need to consider broader and longer-term strategies that addresses poverty such as Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot.”