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Paying for nutrition:  A report on food costing in the North

The Paying for Nutrition project is an academic and community partnership between Food Secure Canada and partners from four universities (Mount St. Vincent, Dalhousie, Lakehead, and University of Waterloo). This document was created to bring attention to the level of food insecurity in northern First Nations communities. The report describes challenges with food costing in remote locations and compares food costs between three communities. Concepts such as food sovereignty and the importance of foods from the land are explored; along with the incidence and consequences of food insecurity in First Nations communities and northern retail food environments.

The average monthly cost of feeding a family of four in the three communities examined is $1793.40, which includes subsidized food prices. The cost of items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, diapers, other household items as well as hunting supplies are additional and not included in this average monthly food cost. Northern food subsidies did not bring the cost of nutritious foods to an affordable level. Many households must spend at least 50% of household income to purchase a basic nutritious diet, compared to 15% in Thunder Bay and 11% in Toronto. Recommendations include expanded food costing in remote stores, increased local control over food retail, initiatives to increase access to local foods, and a broader comprehensive strategy to address food insecurity that includes guaranteed minimum incomes that are indexed to the higher cost of living in the provincial North.

Use this resource to:

  • Raise awareness about the cost of healthy eating and food insecurity in northern and remote Indigenous communities;
  • Advocate for policy changes to address Indigenous food insecurity such as basic income;
  • Support the development of tools to measure food costing in remote locations.


Food Secure Canada (2016). Paying for nutrition: A report on food costing in the north.

Tags: Assess and report, Food security, Healthy public policy, Income inequality, Indigenous health , Racism/racialization, Socioeconomic status

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