A report from Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health shows that one in nine families in the region is facing food insecurity.
Titled The Cost of Eating Healthy, Tracy McDonough, a public health dietitian with KFL&A public health says it also shows that it costs $1,099 a month in 2022 to feed a family of four nutritious foods.
“Food insecurity means not having enough money to afford the food you want and need for good health,” she says.
Cory Dyck, with a director with Bridge’s Kingston, says he’s not surprised by the numbers.
The local organization helps deliver boxes of food from Kingston’s Partners in Mission Foodbank to people who need support. Dyck says it is something he’s doing more and more.
“Over the last six months there’s been an increase by about 30 per cent,” he says of the number of people he helps. “It’s been significant.”
Loading his car with milk and eggs, boxed up by food bank volunteers, he says clients on disability support payments are finding it hard to make ends meet.
“The rise in groceries, other things like fuel, and things like that… I, unfortunately, expect this sort of trend to carry forward,” he says.
Meanwhile, inside, Dan Irwin, the executive director of Partners in Mission Foodbank, says they saw 43 per vent increase in new clients in 2022 compared to the previous year.
“We’re seeing more families come to the food bank for the first time ever,” he says. ”So that was a real challenge for us, and of course, larger families means more food that’s needed and it’s difficult for them and it adds more pressure to us.”
McDonough says the effects can mean families worry about running out of food, compromise the quality they eat, and even are forced to eat less in some cases.
“Food insecurity occurs on a spectrum,” she explains. “So some people might be living with marginal food insecurity, meaning they are worried about running out of food, or have limited food selection because of a lack of money. While other people might actually be living with severe food insecurity and they might, in extreme cases, might not be eating for whole days because of a lack of money for food.”
“Things have gone up a lot,” says Irwin. “There’s a lot of pressure on those who were just making it before to now take care of their food needs.”
McDonough says those on minimum wage and Ontario Works are among the hardest hits.
“A one-person household on Ontario Works would be going into debt to pay for the cost of eating healthy, after paying for rent,” she explained. “Which means they have a negative bank balance after the cost of eating healthy.”
As high prices continue, the food bank says it will continue to work to meet the need.
“Everyone’s challenged to get through each month, and we’re here to help,” said Irwin.