Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Determinants Of Health

Household Food Insecurity

The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey demonstrates that the difference between the cost of the NFB plus rent and income can be a useful indicator of household food insecurity (insecure or inadequate access to food due to financial constraints) for individuals and families with income from social assistance, a pension or low wage work.  

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), from 2007-2014, 12% (10.9%, 13.4%) of Simcoe Muskoka households said they had experienced a level of food insecurity at least once in the past 12 months. This as similar to the 12% (11.3%, 12%) of Ontario households that reported some level of food insecurity. These numbers represent households that report either marginal, moderate, or severe food insecurity. Marginal food insecurity captures concepts like “worry about running out of food and/or limit food selection because of lack of money for food.” This variable has been adapted based on work from PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research.

150203FoodInsecurityFamilyTypechart

Food insecurity is highest among lone parent families, with 24% (19.6%, 28.4%) reporting marginal, moderate or severe food insecurity during the survey period from 2007 to 2014. Food insecurity among lone parent families is significantly higher than all other types of families.

151002FoodSecbyFamilyBAR

A nutritious diet contributes to overall health, is essential for optimal growth and development and helps to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Children living in food insecure households experience poorer physical and mental health, and youth are at increased risk of depression, social anxiety and suicide. Food insecure adults also experience poorer physical and mental health, such as higher rates of depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.  Additionally, parents in food-insecure homes may feel embarrassed about not being able to feed their children, which can lead to feelings of social exclusion and isolation from neighbours and community.

When we look at household food insecurity in Simcoe Muskoka by income distribution, we see that the percentage rises to 29% (26.1%, 31.9%) among those households that fall into the bottom 20% of income earnings. Food insecurity among those living in the bottom 20% of income is about four times higher than those living in the top 80% of income where only 7% (6.3%, 8.7%) report food insecurity. The relationship between income and food insecurity is clear – the less income available, the more food insecure households there are likely to be.

141127ModerateSevereFoodInsecurityIncomechart

Based on Simcoe and Muskoka 2017 NFB survey results and average apartment rents, a family of four with median income after-tax living in our area would need to spend 25% (Muskoka) or 28% (Simcoe County) of their monthly income after-tax on food and rent combined. By comparison, residents of Simcoe and Muskoka receiving social assistance, pension or minimum wage income would need to use much more of that income to cover basic food and housing costs. For example, when earnings from one full-time minimum wage job are the income source for a “reference” family of four, 62% (Muskoka) and 67% (Simcoe) of the family’s income would be needed to pay for food and rent alone. For the same family of four with income from Ontario Works, 79% (Muskoka) and 86% (Simcoe) of their income would need to go for food and rent alone (see chart and tables below).

150203FoodHousingCostschart

*Note: In 2017, median income after-tax for an Ontario family of four is used to provide a comparison for different scenarios involving low income earners. In 2016, average income after-tax for a family of four was used due to a lack of data on median income after-tax.

150210ScenariosMuskokatable

aAverage apartment rents for District of Muskoka are based on Canadian Mortgage and  Housing Corporation Ontario Rental Market Report, Fall 2016 data and are estimates only.
bBasic needs refers to, for example, transportation, clothing, phone, phone, personal care items, etc.
ceg“Reference Family” of two adults plus two children, girl age 8, boy age 14.
dfhiDue to data suppression from CMHC, rental rates for bachelor and 3+ bedrooms were determined using data imputation assign replacement values for missing data for District of Muskoka to determine these estimates.

150210ScenariosSimcoetable

jAverage apartment rents for Simcoe County are based on Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Ontario Rental Market Report, Fall 2016 data and are estimates only.
kBasic needs refers to, for example, transportation, clothing, phone, phone, personal care items, etc. lmn“Reference Family” of two adults plus two children, girl age 8, boy age 14.