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.