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Health Unit nutritionist talks food insecurity in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville

Danielle Labonté says the average family of four in the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville region only has about ninety dollars left over each month after their rent and food expenses.

“This year, we found the average cost of food in the area for a family of four is around $1,109 a month, and this is as of June 2022,” Labonté, a nutritionist with the local Health Unit, explains. 

The data comes from the organization’s annual “Nutritious Food Basket” survey, assessing the price of groceries locally.

“One of the scenarios we looked at is, if there’s a monthly income for a family of four receiving income from Ontario work, that income is around $2,760, and after paying for rent, which in Leeds-Grenville-Lanark, is an average of $1,561, and then paying for the food, this really only leaves them with $90 for everything else.”

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Labonté says food insecurity is mainly an income problem, but it can cause health issues for people dealing with it.

“It’s really tightly linked to household food insecurity, and there are several health effects related to not being able to afford food,” she says. 

“So, things like, we know you’re probably not getting enough of the vitamins, minerals and energy you need to maintain that overall mental and physical health, and we know that nutritious food intake really does play a positive role for healthy pregnancies and birth outcomes, healthy growth and development, and it also decreases our risk for chronic diseases later in life.”

If you’ve been struggling to afford food, Labonté says residents should look to a website called “Foodcore Leeds, Grenville, Lanark,” that has a consolidated list of food banks and assistance programs in the region.

You can access that website here. Meanwhile, if you want to make a donation to your local food bank, Labonté says the Health Unit website has a list of recommendations for important items.

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