Cost of eating still high for B.C. families
The 2011 Cost of Eating in B.C. Report, released by the Dietitians of Canada – BC Region last week, showed no improvement for the average family.
The Cost of Eating in B.C. has been published for over a decade to detail how much it costs for individuals and families in B.C. to access an adequate amount of food, to relate this cost to income, and to consider the reasons why many people cannot meet this basic need.
“Individuals, communities, and government need to be involved to create true change for British Columbians. There are so many ways that you can help, such as volunteering your time and skills at an organization that supports poverty reduction, getting involved in your local food policy council, and talking about these issues with family, friends and neighbours” says Kristen Yarker, Dietitian and B.C. Regional Executive Director for Dietitians of Canada.
In 2011, the provincial average cost to feed a family of four was $868.43 per month.
Those earning minimum wage, receiving income assistance, or facing other challenges (high rents, child care, or transportation costs, for example) struggle to find ways to purchase food as well as meet their other basic needs.
Nothing is improving. In the ten years that the Cost of Eating in BC Report has been published, the situation has only gotten worse for individuals and families earning low wages or receiving government assistance.
Not being able to afford healthy food has significant consequences for individuals and families such as poor pregnancy outcomes, poor growth and development in children, learning deficits, poor school performance, and mental anguish.
“The consequences ripple out to touch all British Columbians. We experience higher health care costs, lost economic activity, and increased crime and policing costs,” added Yarker.
The solution rests in not just addressing the immediate need to feed hungry British Columbians, but addressing the underlying causes, specifically poverty and the food system. Recommendations for change include:
- Establish a provincial poverty reduction strategy
- Build affordable housing
- Update social assistance to reflect the cost of living
- Enact a living wage policy
- Work toward sustainable food systems that no longer require food banks