Food costs rise 11.5% in Saskatchewan: Decision makers must take action
Oct 13, 2016
Dietitians of Canada is calling on decision makers and organizations to take action and consider household food costs in Saskatchewan when developing and implementing health, nutrition and social policy, following the release of the report, Cost of Healthy Eating in Saskatchewan 2015. The report indicates an 11.5% increase in food costs for a family of four, from a provincial average of $218.24 per week in 2012 to $243.64 in 2015, which far exceeds inflation. Costs in the Far North were 80% higher than the provincial average, a troubling reality.
“Saskatchewan families of all income levels are noticing increases in the price of food. However, Saskatchewan families with low incomes are finding it more difficult to put healthy food on the table after paying for necessary purchases such as rent, utilities, transportation and clothing,” says Jennifer Wojcik, Regional Executive Director for Saskatchewan with Dietitians of Canada. “When incomes are limited, or work is only part-time or temporary, households experience much greater stress and may try to cope by buying less healthy, cheaper foods, reducing meal sizes or sometimes skipping meals altogether. This report provides important insight into the challenges faced by residents of Saskatchewan, particularly those living in Northern Saskatchewan.”
Once every three years, the Saskatchewan Food Costing Task Group estimates the cost of healthy eating for households throughout Saskatchewan using Health Canada’s National Nutritious Food Basket – a costing protocol that includes 67 basic healthy foods, representative of foods commonly eaten by Canadians that meet recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide and Dietary Reference Intakes for key nutrients. The 2015 food costing was completed in 104 randomly selected grocery stores, including urban, rural and northern locations, and stores on First Nation reserves.
In 2014, 10.6% of Saskatchewan households, including 19% of Saskatchewan children, experienced household food insecurity – inadequate or insecure access to adequate food due to financial constraints. The likelihood of living with a low income, and being food insecure, is much greater for households who rely on incomes from government sources, such as social assistance, disability pension and Workers’ Compensation. This is why Dietitians of Canada has called for adequate income protection and assistance, so households will have enough money to pay for all necessities, including the cost of food – as estimated in the Cost of Healthy Eating in Saskatchewan report.
The presence of food insecurity, coupled with greater rates of chronic physical and mental health conditions, results in a lower quality of life and much greater use of health care services, amounting to health care costs that can be doubled compared to adults living in food secure households. Children living in food insecure households often experience more mental and physical health issues and difficulties in school, as well as have a greater risk for ill health in their adult years. Says Wojcik, “Food insecurity is a serious public health issue. Government-led strategies must include coordinated policies and programs that focus on long-term solutions that are multi-pronged to address poverty, health equity and positive social outcomes. The bottom line is that Saskatchewan residents need to have enough money to afford basic living costs, including the cost of healthy eating."
About Dietitians of Canada
Dietitians of Canada, the national professional association for dietitians, representing 6000 members at the local, provincial and national level. As the voice of the profession, Dietitians of Canada recently published its position statement and recommendations regarding policy to address household food insecurity (see www.dietitians.ca/foodinsecurity).
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