Many BC families in lower-income households cannot afford to have healthy, nutritious diets due to food costs.
A BC Center for Disease Control report, Food Costing in BC 2022found that the average cost for a nutritious diet for a family of four in May and June 2022 was $1,263 per month.
“Food insecurity is a significant public health issue,” said Dr. Geoff McKee, BC Center for Disease Control’s medical director of population and public health.
“The price of food does not affect everyone equally and the root cause of household food insecurity is low income.”
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Typically, a food cost report is done every two years by the BCCDC, but this is the first since 2017, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cost of food was found using a survey tool called the “national nutritious food basket,” which assessed the cost of 61 food items at grocery stores across the province.
According to the report, average monthly costs in 2022 in the five regional health authorities range from $1,193 in Fraser Health to $1,366 in Island Health.
“After a review of five different household compositions and income scenarios, the report shows many people and households who live on low incomes, especially on income or disability assistance, cannot afford a nutritious diet after paying rent,” BCCDC staff said in the report.
About 15 per cent of British Columbians “struggle to put food on the table,” according to the report.
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Diets that lack nutrition increase health and social risks in both children and adults.
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Babies, children and youths may have an increased risk of anemia, lower nutrient intake, asthma and hospitalization as well as having poorer academic outcomes and social skills, according to the report.
For adults, there is a greater risk of chronic disease including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. It can also lead to anxiety, sleep disturbance, social isolation and depression, the report found.
The report says those suffering from food insecurity are 76 per cent more likely to have higher health-care costs compared to those without.
Global News talked to the Surrey Food Bank’s executive director Nancy Pagani.
Pagani said the organization has seen an increase in the demand for food, while experiencing a decline in both monetary and food donations.
She also said many food bank users who haven’t been using the food bank have returned due to the rising cost of living.
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