Poverty and Hunger Still a Problem in Peterborough

Written by admin, November 13, 2014

November 13, 2014 – Public Health Releases 2014 Report “Limited Incomes: A Recipe For Hunger”

At last night’s Board of Health meeting, Peterborough Public Health released its annual Limited Incomes: A Recipe For Hunger report based on the recent Nutritious Food Basket survey.  This year’s report shows that people living on low incomes in our community cannot afford to eat a healthy diet.

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“It is distressing to see the health of thousands of local residents compromised because social assistance progr

ams, and often low wages, don’t provide enough income for them to afford nutritious foods,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health.  “It’s well known that when people gain food security it not only improves their overall quality of life but reduces future strain on the health system.  With 11.5% 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.”

The annual Nutritious Food Basket survey, conducted in May 2014 by Peterborough Public Health, consists of visiting seven grocery stores throughout the region to price 67 food items to determine the lowest available price for healthy food.  While the Limited Incomes report notes local food prices have increased by 7.6% over the past two 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 $245 each month if he spent the $286 required for a nutritious diet, after paying his shelter costs, and without considering the costs of other basic necessities such as clothing, transportation and medical costs.  In this case, social assistance benefits are clearly inadequate to cover the cost of a healthy diet and also meet basic living expenses. 

The problem of food insecurity exists not only for households receiving social assistance but also for those trying to live on minimum wage and other low wage employment.   Hunger Count 2014 from Food Banks Canada found that 9.3% of Ontarians using food banks have jobs.   

Food security is necessary for good health.   Programs such as food banks, community meal programs and emergency food access programs provide essential short-term relief to those who are in need. However, research shows that poverty is the root cause of food insecurity. Therefore, these short-term strategies need to be part of a broader and longer-term strategy that addresses poverty. Community members are invited to learn more about the work the Peterborough Community Food Network (www.foodinpeterborough.ca) and the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network (http://ptbopovertyreduction.com) are doing to create more permanent solutions  which help families and individuals to make ends meet in the City and County of Peterborough. 

To access a copy of the 2014 Limited Incomes: A Recipe For Hunger report, please visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca, click on “About Us” and then “Plans and Reports”.

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For further information, please contact:
Brittany Cadence, Communications Supervisor
(705) 743-1000, ext. 391