According to a new study released today, many Nova Scotians cannot afford to eat nutritiously.
The 2008 food costing report Cost and Affordability of a Nutritious Diet in Nova Scotia reveals a significant segment of the Nova Scotia population remains at risk and continues to struggle to afford a basic nutritious diet.
“Food security is critical to physical, mental and social aspects of health.” said Dr. Patty Williams, Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Policy Change and Associate Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University. “Overall, it is clear that the vast majority of households represented by these scenarios simply cannot afford to purchase a basic nutritious diet placing them at risk for poor health.”
According to the report, the average monthly cost of a basic nutritious diet for a family of four in Nova Scotia is $673.62 – this is up 18 per cent since 2002. The report also shows that the rising costs of staple foods will further burden low-income families pressured to make ends meet.
Highlights of the research suggest that both lone-parent and dual-parent families living on minimum wage or income assistance in Nova Scotia are struggling to afford a nutritious diet while balancing other basic needs.
“The results of the 2008 food costing also demonstrate that households relying on minimum wages are at risk of food insecurity,” added Dr. Williams. “Food security has been recognized as a key social determinant of health and is closely linked to and influenced by other social determinants of health such as income and social status, literacy, early childhood development and education.”
Participatory food costing was first conducted in Nova Scotia in 2002 with funding from Health Canada and has since been repeated in 2004/2005, 2007 and 2008 with funding support from the Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection. The Department of Health Promotion and Protection has committed to fund ongoing participatory food costing to help to monitor income-related food insecurity and engage partners from diverse backgrounds to work together as a means of building food security in Nova Scotia.
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