What is the Healthy Food Supplement?
Nutritious food is essential for good health. In February 2009, the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) in partnership with the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa) and The Stop Community Food Centre launched 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 social assistance recipients. The existence of widespread food insecurity and chronic illness related to poor nutrition is the result of our society’s collective negligence and the 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 based on the actual cost of living and the basic needs allowance is currently set far below actual market costs. The Healthy Food Supplement will serve as a down payment in closing the monthly gap of food deficiency while reducing the negative health effects of poverty until a fair and realistic process for setting social assistance benefit levels is set.