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Costs rising to eat well in Hastings and Prince Edward County

Amid concerns of housing prices out of reach and soaring hydro costs, it also costs more for Hastings Prince Edward counties residents to eat nutritious food.

Jillian Gumbley, Program Manager – Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, provided the board an overview of Hastings Prince Edward Public Health’s (HPEPH) 2016 assessment of local food affordability.

Using a tool called ‘Nutritious Food Basket Costing’, the HPEPH estimates the annual cost and accessibility of a basic nutritious diet.

Public health dietitians find the lowest price for 67 basic food items at eight grocery stores across both counties. The items meet recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide and do not include prepared foods or non-food household items such as toilet paper.

The 2016 Nutritious Food Basket costing showed the average cost of a basic nutritious diet for a family of four has increased to $204.89 per week, a three per cent increase from 2015 and a 13 per cent increase over the past five years. Their costing shows a family of four now spends $1,397 more this year than they did for the same groceries in 2011.

“Many households, including those on social assistance, may find it challenging to pay for essential expenses such as utilities and transportation, as well as afford nutritious food choices,” said Gumbley.

These findings are to be used to advocate for local related policies that will help alleviate food insecurity, and to raise awareness among both the public and local community groups about the real cost of eating well in HPEPH.

“Income is one of the best predictors of health,” the report states. “In order to save money, people may skip meals, eat fewer vegetables and fruit, drink less milk and fill up on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods because they are cheap. The result of this unhealthy diet is an increased risk of chronic disease and poor growth and development in children.”

In comparison to food-secure households, annual health care costs are 23 per cent higher in households with marginal food insecurity and 121 per cent higher in households with severe food insecurity in Ontario.

Foods with the largest price increase include ground beef at 47 per cent; apples at 41 per cent and lettuce at 40 per cent higher in 2016 from 2011.


In Prince Edward County, there are a number of programs and services that can assist, including:

HUBbuttonThe Hub Family and Child Care Centre – Healthy Food Healthy Families Programs for young parents and children to gain knowledge about nutritious food purchasing, preparation and storage. The program is offered monthly and every family takes home a Good Food Box.
The Hub also offers a Good Baby Box program to assist families to stretch their food dollar, reduce costs and meet needs of infants and toddlers. The Children’s Garden project was also created at The Hub to help build healthy eating habits with the children of Prince Edward County. Starting at a young age is key for building lifelong skills, along with hands on opportunities from planting to harvesting and eating the food.

For details on all these programs, and more, visit:
The Hub Family and Child Care Centre
10 McFarland Court, Picton
Call 476-8142 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Food-not-BombsFood Not Bombs is a community building group that includes free meals and food sharing, crafts, family events and clothes swaps. Events are held regularly, along with a special community meal the third Wednesday of each month above the old fire hall in Picton. For more information, or to get involved with FNB, e-mail: or like the page on Facebook at

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HPEDSBbuttonVisit The Hastings Prince Edward District School Board website for more information on the Food for Learning program which provides food to school children in the form of a balanced breakfast, healthy snack or nutritious lunch.


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CommCarebuttonCommunity Care for Seniors – Click for more information about Meals on Wheels; recreation and luncheon socials. Nutrition services include hot or frozen meals delivered to the door of clients or provided in a congregate setting in the rural parts of the County. Special diets can be accommodated.

Call 476-7493 Monday to Friday,
or visit the office at 74 King St., Picton

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The Picton Community Garden is located at Delhi Park during the growing season. It is free of charge. email to register.

Picton Care and Share Food Bank – open Fridays and closed holidays.
Picton United Church
12 Chapel St., Picton.
Call 476-8516

Storehouse Food Bank – Open Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m. or by appointment and open holidays.
Storehouse Wellington and District Foodbank
305 Niles St., Wellington
399-1450 or 399-1482

Salvation Army Food Bank – open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Closed holidays.
Salvation Army
46 Elizabeth St., Picton

Grocery vouchers – Open to Emergency grocery vouchers for County residents in emergency situations. Call for appointment.
St. Vincent de Paul Committee
St. Gregory Parish
7 Church St., Picton

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  1. Barney Rubble says:

    Ontario Works formally known as welfare shopping at Mac’s for $6.99 tins of salmon. Or lunch at McD’s fast food. Perhaps a free freezer and vouchers for food on sale would be a better method. Just saying. It’s there and present and we see it but in today’s world we are not to comment on it. I expect this view to be removed.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    Today, more children suffer from obesity, allergies, asthma, hyper active disorders and diabetes than ever before. All because of their poor diets. As mentioned before, our generation has failed to teach our kids how to cook and how to eat properly. Now with these higher prices, the job of eating properly becomes even more difficult. Food insecurity is a national crisis, that must be addressed. And to think of the amount of good food being thrown out everyday by our restaurants and grocery stores. Not to mention the lack of a public transportation system here in The County to get people to basic stores to feed themselves. This problem grows bigger everyday.

  3. Dave says:

    We have failed to teach the next generation how to make healthy meals out of very little, instead go to fast food outlets which means big health problems in years to come.

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