New data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control shows that nutritious diets are unaffordable for many families and individuals living on low incomes.
Released Thursday (May 25), “Food Costing in BC 2022,” looks at the affordability of eating healthy for people in B.C. and according to the latest data – from May and June 2022 – the average monthly cost of a nutritious diet for a family of four in B.C. was $1,263 per month.
Across the five health regions, Island Health came in at the top at $1,366 per month, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health at $1,311, Northern Health at $1,300, Interior Health at $1,264 and Fraser Health the least expensive at $1,193.
The cost was also broken down by health service delivery areas, which ranged from $1,104 in the Northeast and $1,571 in the Northwest.
“Food insecurity is a significant public health issue,” said Dr. Geoff McKee, medical director of Population and Public Health at the BCCDC. “The price of food does not affect everyone equally and the root cause of household food insecurity are low incomes.”
The report shows that many people and households who live on low incomes, “especially on income or disability assistance, cannot afford a nutritious diet after paying rent.”
The BCCDC, as part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, works with the different health authorities and the Health Ministry to monitor the average cost. In B.C. food costing reports are typically done every two years, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first report since 2017.
Food costing, according to the BCCDC, uses a survey tool known as the national nutritious food basket to assess the cost of 61 food items at grocery stores in different parts of the province.