Opinion: Somewhere, a single mom needs your help

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Jaime Callica -

Being raised by a single mother, I know first-hand the sacrifices a parent makes to ensure their kids are cared for. I started The Virgie Clamens Foundation to help single mothers in need. Nobody should have to worry about food insecurity or things that many of us take for granted to live a safe and healthy life.

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Cost of food up 6% this year

Food prices are up and ris­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Nu­tri­tious Food Bas­ket re­port rep­re­sented to mem­bers of the Chatham-Kent board of health on Wed­nes­day. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the av­er­age fam­ily of four spends ap­prox­i­mately $859.39 on food ev­ery month. That fac­tors in nec­es­sary and nu­tri­tious food only, and as­sumes the low­est-pos­si­ble cost for in­di­vid­ual items. Drinks like soda and cof­fee are not in­cluded, and pro­duce are cal­cu­lated at their low­est price. “We do this ev­ery year to help de­ter­mine what the cost for a fam­ily of four is to eat healthy, or to eat nu­tri­tious, food,” said Lyn­d­say David­son, di­eti­cian with the Chatham-Kent Pub­lic Health Unit. “We know that ev­ery year that goes up. This year that num­ber went up six per cent.” Since 2009 the cost to eat nu­tri­tiously in Chatham-Kent has climbed by 25 per cent. The like­li­hood of the cost of food drop­ping is re­mote, David­son said. Next year, the same bas­ket of food is pro­jected to rise sig­nif­i­cantly. The re­port also in­di­cates the por­tion of in­come spent on food and shel­ter for peo­ple in vary­ing lev­els of se­cu­rity, from a sin­gle per­son on On­tario Works, to a fam­ily of four with medium in­come. Af­ter taxes, the for­mer is of­ten left with about $8.59 cents per month to spend apart from shel­ter and food. For a fam­ily of four whose in­come is de­pen­dent upon min­i­mum wage, that num­ber is just over $1,000 a month. There is some good news, how­ever. Ac­cord­ing to the the pub­lic health unit, Chatham-Kent res­i­dents who live in food-in­se­cure house­holds ac­count for ap­prox­i­mately eight per cent of all house­holds. That num­ber has re­mained sta­ble since 2007 de­spite the ris­ing cost of food. “Typ­i­cally we are a lit­tle bit higher than the provin­cial av­er­age,” David­son said. “It could be [ be­cause] we’re more ru­ral, it could be … our em­ploy­ment sta­tus. It’s a lot of things.” In per­spec­tive, the cost of liv­ing is creep­ing up across the board. Elec­tric­ity costs are more of­ten in the news and rep­re­sent one of the most sig­nif­i­cant upticks, but a low Cana­dian dol­lar may cause many ar­eas of re­tail to ex­pe­ri­ence a cost in­crease in 2017. “Things like toi­let pa­per, soap, house­hold clean­ing sup­plies … [the Nu­tri­tious Food Bas­ket] doesn’t re­ally cover those items,” David­son said. “Those are still an ad­di­tion to the food peo­ple need to eat.” Food in­se­cu­rity re­mains high­est among house­holds with low in­come, with sin­gle-mother house­holds, with adults liv­ing alone be­tween ages 60-64, and with In­dige­nous Peo­ples and peo­ple with iden­ti­fied racial or cul­tural back­grounds.

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