Food Most Expensive in VCH Region

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Sept. 28, 2013

On the surface, it may feel like there is a problem of excess when it comes to food.

Food, after all, seems ubiquitous, overflowing in the grocery store aisles.

But a study by the Dieticians of Canada reveals that affordability of food varies with where you live.

The residents of Sea to Sky Region, along with communities in Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, have to pay more for food.

Communities included in the Vancouver Coastal Health, which also includes Squamish, has the highest cost for a nutritious food basket.

The data was based on prices gleaned from 133 random grocery stores across the province.  

While the average monthly cost of a nutritious food basket in B.C. is $868.43, the cost for a similar basket in the VCH region is $944.16.

The lowest cost of a food basket was in the Interiors, with $832.82.

Introduced in 1974, the National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) consists of a wide variety of food based on Canada’s food guide.

A Food Banks Canada report last year revealed nearly 2.5 per cent of Canadians used the food bank in 2011, up 26 per cent from the period before the 2008 recession.

Squamish Food Bank president, Prentice Geary, said a whole range of people use the food bank, including people with disabilities, physical and mental health challenges, students, unemployed and seniors.

“We are all two pay cheques away from the food bank,” he said.

Soon, Squamish’s most needy will have access to healthy and affordable chef prepared meals, thanks to a grant from the Salvation Army headquarters in Toronto.

The $25,000 grant will allow the New Hope Cuisine program to expand to Squamish, allowing seniors and other vulnerable groups to access fresh and healthy food at low prices.

“In essence, it’s for anyone who has barriers to feeding themselves,” said Chef Scott Rowe.

“There are the economic barriers, but some seniors can have a problem just preparing meals,” he said.

Frozen meals prepared by Chef Rowe and other community volunteers in North Vancouver would be trucked to Squamish, where they will be stored at the Mountain Valley Mission in downtown Squamish.

The frozen meals will be supplied to people through partnerships with community organizations, said Rowe.

A three part meal will sell for $4, and would contain rice, potato, vegetables and the main course. One dish item or casserole will cost $3.50, while the soup would cost $1.25.

Access to healthy food program also became easier with a $2 million funding support for the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program.

The program offers $15 worth of coupons each week to individuals and families enrolled in the nutrition and skills building programs.

As many as 55 families and 20 seniors receive $15 worth of coupons each week for 16 weeks, said Carolyn Morris, the manager at Squamish Farmer’s Market.