The cost of buying healthy food rose to $1,366 per month for a family of four on Vancouver Island, according to a new report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
For the North Island, specifically, that number is slightly higher at $1,370. In the central region it is $1,343, and in the South Island it is up to $1,386. This monthly cost is based on a reference family of four made up of a male adult, a female adult (aged 31-50), a male child between ages of 14 and 18, and a female child between 4 and 8. Researchers sampled 38 stores on the Island, nine of which were in the North Island. The sample food basket is based on the Canada food guide and includes 61 items that would feed that family for a month, predominantly made up of fruits and vegetables (28 items), protein (22 items), whole grain foods (eight items), and unsaturated fats (three items).
Data was calculated in May and June, 2022.
The calculations do not account for transportation costs, or accessing traditional foods, which can be significant for people living in remote and Indigenous communities. People living in places like Tahsis, Zeballos and Kyuquot do not have access to a grocery store, locally. They have to drive hundreds of kilometres to the nearest stores, which can drastically increase the cost of groceries.
Using the provincial average, which is slightly less than that of Vancouver Island, a family of four on income assistance would have $311.89 left over each month after they cover the cost of their housing, other necessities like tax deductions, and the cost of food. A single parent with one child on income assistance would be left going $111.82 over budget, and a single young male adult on disability would be even further in the hole at negative $210.73 per month. That leaves little to no money for other necessities like transportation, utilities, other bills and health care costs.
According to the report, one in seven B.C. households are experiencing food insecurity, and one in six children in the province live in households with food insecurity.
“The root cause of household food insecurity isn’t the price of food — it’s lack of income,” the report says.