Nutritious food is essential for good health. As part of our belief that fighting poverty is the best medicine money can buy, the 25in5 Network for Poverty Reduction, in partnership with the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa), is launching an Ontario-wide campaign for a Healthy Food Supplement.
We are calling for the immediate introduction of a $100 monthly supplement to the basic needs allowance for all adults receiving social assistance. The existence of widespread food insecurity and chronic illness related to poor nutrition is the result of our society’s collective negligence and a failure of public policy.
For the last ten years the Ontario Government has mandated the province’s 36 local health units to collect and report the annual cost of a Nutritious Food Basket in their areas. These reports consistently show a vast gap between the level of benefits received by people on social assistance and their ability to meet their basic food requirements along with other necessities of life.
There is no current formula for establishing social assistance benefit levels and the basic needs allowance is set far below actual market costs. We are pleased the government has created its Social Assistance Review to evaluate the true cost of living in communities across Ontario and we look forward to a new benchmark for income adequacy in setting benefit rates. This is a hopeful development. And hope matters.
In the meantime, it is critical to the health and wellbeing of social assistance recipients that the government takes a first step toward income adequacy by introducing a $100 per month Healthy Food Supplement. The Supplement will serve as a down payment in closing the monthly gap of food deficiency while reducing the negative health effects of poverty.
It will also stimulate spending in our local economies. As a recent Globe and Mail editorial says, the idea of putting money in the hands of low-income people who will spend it in their communities “is an idea with remarkably wide consensus…
In these times, putting money in the hands of those who need it is good policy.”
Put food in the budget. Promote health and fight poverty.
If you are on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program, what difference would the $100 Healthy Food Supplement make to you each month? Write up to 100 words below in the comments box.
Comment from Ang
My name is Ang and I struggle to get by on the Ontario’s Disability Support Program. As a volunteer here at The Stop Community Food Centre and as someone who has lived in this neighbourhood for twenty years, I see so many of my friends and community struggle to make it through each and every day. I thought I would try to say one hundred words about the importance of a one hundred dollar healthy food supplement. I have a lot to say about this topic, so this is not an easy thing to do.
- Healthy, good foods like milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, are expensive and are luxury items that are out of reach for people on social assistance.
- Because we cannot afford the good, vitamin-rich food we need, so many of us slide deep into depression.
- In our neighbourhood, depression, stress, anxiety and loss of dignity, are treated with prescriptions and anti-depressants, but so many of these symptoms could be alleviated by addressing the root causes of poor health.
- The food bank here is busting at the seams because of increased demand. I have seen the numbers of people that eat at the drop-in here multiply immensely in the last year. I find this very worrisome.
- We need to see this healthy food supplement in the provincial budget. To me, the benefit will be priceless.
Comment from Linda
The proposed $100 monthly food supplement for people like me living with multiple chronic disabilities and trying to survive on ODSP and eat a healthy diet translates quite simply to the following – the ability to purchase: Apples, Asparagus, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Bread, Cauliflower, Cheese, Chicken, Cranberry Juice, Eggplant, Eggs, Grapes, Kiwi Fruit, Mango, Margarine, Milk, Orange Juice, Oranges, Peanut Butter, Peppers, Pineapple, Plums, Potatoes, Rice, Salmon, Sardines, Sausages, Spinach, Stewing Beef, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Yogurt, Zucchini…items above and beyond the clearance items, food bank food and pre-packaged low cost/low nutrition items that now form the main part of my diet.
Apples (1LB/Fuji)(@ Food Basics) $0.79
Apples (1LB/Granny Smith)(@ Metro) $1.49
Asparagus (1LB)(@ Price Chopper) $1.49
Bananas (1LB/Organic)(@ Loblaws) $0.79
Blackberries (1 Pint)(@ Loblaws) $2.50
Blueberries (6OZ)(@ Food Basics) $1.67
Bread (Whole Wheat/570G loaf)(@ Food Basics) $1.49
Cauliflower (Large/White)(@ Loblaws) $1.99
Cheese (750G/Cheddar)(@ Food Basics) $5.99
Cheese (750G/Mozzarella)(@ Food Basics) $5.99
Chicken Breasts (1LB/Skinless)(@ Price Chopper) $2.88
Chicken Drumsticks (1LB)(@ Food Basics) $1.99
Cottage Cheese (500G)(@ Shoppers Drug Mart) $1.99
Cranberry Juice (1.89L)(@ Metro) $2.00
Eggplant (1LB)(@ Metro) $1.49
Eggs (1 Dozen/Large/White)(@ Food Basics) $1.99
Grapes (1 LB/Red & Black/Seedless)(@ Loblaws) $1.49
Kiwi Fruit (2LB)(@ Food Basics) $1.67
Mango (Large)(@ Sobeys) $0.99
Margarine (907G/Soya)(@ Loblaws) $2.99
Milk (1%/4L)(@ Food basics) $3.97
Orange Juice (1.75L)(@ Metro) $2.50
Oranges (1 LB)(@ Food Basics) $0.69
Peanut Butter (1KG)(@ Loblaws) $3.49
Peppers (4 Pack/Red Bell)(@ Sobeys) $2.99
Pineapple (@ Food Basics) $1.67
Plums (1 LB)(@ Food Basics) $0.99
Potatoes (15LB/Russet)(@ Price Chopper) $4.99
Rice (8KG Bag)(@ Price Chopper) $9.88
Salmon (213G/Sockeye)(@ Loblaws) $1.67
Sardines (106G)(@ Shoppers Drug Mart) $0.99
Sausages (1.25 KG)(@ Sobey’s) $7.99
Spinach (142G)(@ Price Chopper) $2.49
Stewing Beef (1LB)(@ Food Basics) $4.99
Strawberries (1LB)(@ Price Chopper) $1.99
Tomatoes (1LB)(@ Food Basics) $0.99
Yogurt (750G)(@ Price Chopper) $2.49
Zucchini (1LB)(@ Metro) $1.49
Total: (Based on prices February 15, 2009) $99.93
Check out the videos of people commenting on the Food Supplement on the YouTube Channel