In collaboration with Just Food, Ottawa Pubic Health has launched the new FoodLink Directory on Good Food Ottawa. The FoodLink Directory is an online hub for food and nutritional programs and services in Ottawa, providing those who may be experiencing food insecurity with a comprehensive directory on where to find good food. To us, good food meaning food that is affordable, healthy, nutritious, local when possible, and culturally appropriate.
Ottawa Public Health has also just released its annual Nutritional Food Basket survey for 2019. This survey measures the cost of basic healthy eating for families in Ottawa. The Nutritional Food Basket found that roughly 1 in 7 households in Ottawa reported being marginally to severely food insecure. This would mean that one or more members of the households could not afford balanced meals; are going hungry due to skipped meals or eating less; or could not afford the food they need. The survey notes this food insecurity as a major public health issue as it can lead to poor mental health, heart disease, and diabetes.
Some findings from the 2019 Nutritional Food Basket showed that :
- The monthly cost to feed a family of four in Ottawa was $901 (based on the costs of 67 food items in 10 grocery stores)
- The cost of the Nutritional Food Basket has risen 22% since 2009
- Canadian single mothers had the highest percentage of food insecurity with 33.5% of households reporting marginal to severe food insecurity
The survey concluded that poverty was the underlying cause of food insecurity. Once rent is subtracted from monthly income, there are many remaining expenses with little left over to cover them. The budget for basic expenses such as transportation, heat, hydro, childcare and medications, becomes increasingly smaller once rent and nutritional food are allocated.
As a means of alleviating the root cause of food insecurity, Ottawa Public Health recommends income-based strategies such as basic income guarantee, increased social assistance rates and strengthening employment standards.
In light of the findings from the 2019 Nutritional Food Basket survey, the need for access to healthy food in Ottawa is loud and clear. To find where and how to access nutritious food in your community, check out the FoodLink Directory.