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Every year, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit surveys the price of food items from grocery stores across the city and county. Using this data and a survey tool called the Nutritious Food Basket, we calculate the cost of one week’s worth of groceries.

In 2022, the weekly cost of groceries for a family of four in Windsor-Essex is $241.66 ($1,046.39 per month). To arrive at this cost, 61 food items in eleven area grocery stores were priced by calculating the average of the lowest retail price form in-store and online shopping. The items included meet recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide, with the assumption that people have the time, skill, and equipment needed to cook low-cost staples.

When money is tight, people are often placed in the difficult position of cutting into their food budget to pay for other living expenses. They skip meals, eat fewer vegetables and fruit, drink less milk, and fill up on energy dense foods that cost less. The result of this diet over time is an increased risk of chronic illness, and poor growth and development in children.

For people living on minimum wage, Ontario Works, or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), it is difficult to make ends meet. After paying rent, they still have to pay for other necessities such as:

  • Heat and hydro
  • Transportation, car maintenance, and gas
  • Child care
  • Phone
  • Clothing
  • Eye and dental care
  • Home maintenance
  • Costs for children in school
  • Household cleaners and personal hygiene products

This means that little money is left for buying nutritious food. Too often, the amount is so little that people go hungry.

Consider these real-life situations for people living in Windsor-Essex County:

 

Households with Children

Households without children

 

Scenario
1

Scenario
2

Scenario
3

Scenario
4

Scenario
5

Scenario
6

Scenario
7

Scenario
8

 

Ontario Works

Full-time
Minimum Wage
Earner

Median  Income

Ontario Works

Ontario Works

ODSP

Senior OAS/GIS

ODSP
Income  

Total Monthly Income (Including Benefits and Credits)

$2,760

$3,973

$9,323

$2,528

$863

$1,309

$1,885

$2,322
Expenses  

Estimated Monthly Rent*

$1,367

$ 1,367

$1,367

$1,154

$775

$976

$976

$976

Healthy Food (Nutritious Food Basket, 2022)

$1,046.39

$1,046.39

$1,046.39

$766.54

$379.61

$379.61

$267.64

$ 628.33

Monthly Income Remaining for Other Expenses**

 
 

$1,559.61

$6,909.61

$607.46

$-46.61

$641.36

$717.67

% Income Required for Rent***

50%

34%

15%

46%

90%

75%

52%

42%

% Income Required for Nutritious Food

38%

26%

11%

30%

44%

29%

14%

27%

% Income Required for Rent & Food

88%

60%

26%

76%

134%

104%

66%

69%

* Private Apartment Average Rents. www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/data-and-research/publications-and-reports/rental...
** People still need funds for utilities, phone, transportation, cleaning supplies, personal care items, school supplies, medical and dental costs and other costs.
*** Housing that is more than 30% of the income is considered unaffordable housing.

All people in Windsor-Essex should have access to a nutritious, adequate diet, and each of us has a role to play to ensure it. Start by educating yourself about what causes hunger and poverty, then get involved.

Advocate for:

  • Improved social assistance programs and increasing minimum wage to living wage
  • An increase in the number of employers who pay at least a living wage
  • More affordable housing availability
  • Municipal and provincial governments to increase funding for school nutrition programs
  • Accessible and affordable child care

To become involved:

  • Share your gardening skills or donate growing space to local groups, like the Windsor-Essex Community Garden Collective. To find out more, visit www.wegarden.ca.
  • Donate time, food, or money to support our local emergency food programs such as food banks and meal programs. Visit www.wechu.org/donate for a list of nutritious food donations.
  • Think about where your food comes from and buy local products when you can. Visit www.weheartlocal.ca to learn more about foods that grow locally and where to buy them.

To learn more about poverty-reduction strategies that could improve access to healthy food for all Canadians, visit www.dignityforall.ca You can also sign on to Dignity for All’s national campaigns to end poverty.


Food cost is an issue that affects our community. When people are short of money, they are unable to consistently afford nutritious foods, which can impact their health in the short and long-term.

That’s why working to eliminate poverty is everyone’s responsibility.

If you, or someone you know, is having difficulties accessing food, go to www.211ontario.ca or call 211 to find a local emergency food program that can help.

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Last modified: 
Friday, October 21, 2022 - 4:30pm