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September 26, 2005
Rising food costs cause hardship
The average weekly cost of a nutritious food basket for a family of four in
Toronto has increased three per cent since 2004 and 16.7 per cent since 1999,
Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, is reporting.

A Toronto Public Health survey of grocery stores found the average weekly food
cost for a family of four is $124.62 a week ($539.60 a month). The survey was
released today during a Board of Health meeting.

"Increased food costs are a hardship for residents on low or fixed incomes,
especially when rental housing and other essential costs are also increasing,"
said Dr. McKeown. "For many people it becomes very difficult to eat well,
protect their health and prevent disease."

Dr. McKeown will review the implications of the 16.7 per cent hike for public
health programs that provide food to vulnerable populations, such as the
Student Nutrition Program. His report recommends a similar review by other City
programs that provide food to children in day nurseries and to residents of
homes for the aged and homeless shelters.

Dr. McKeown also called for increased funding for an expanded Student Nutrition
Program in 2006 including:

  • $374,980 to restore previous funding cuts and to reflect the increased
    cost of food
  • $465,120 to reach 12,000 children in the 22 neediest schools not
    currently being served by the program
  • $296,954 to expand the program to reach one in 20 youth in priority
    neighbourhoods identified by low income, community safety, high youth density
    and high rates of teen pregnancy.

Dr. McKeown said that these food programs are about more than nutrition. "They
also promote community safety by providing structured and supervised
after-school activities for youth."

Media contact:

Frank Giorno
Toronto Public Health



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