Nutritious Food Basket (NFB)
Since 1998, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) and other Ontario Public Health Units (PHUs) have been mandated to monitor food affordability using the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) by relating the cost of the NFB to household incomes. The NFB is a survey tool that measures the cost of basic healthy eating as represented by current national nutrition recommendations and average food purchasing patterns. Survey results are used to calculate the monthly cost of a NFB for households of different compositions and income sources.
In May/June 2022, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit staff conducted the NFB survey in Simcoe County and in the District Municipality of Muskoka separately. Surveyors visited a pre-determined sample of 14 grocery stores and recorded the price of the same 61 foods in each store. Every effort is made to include a balance of “regular” and “budget” grocery stores from all the major supermarket chains in the area, and to ensure that stores chosen for the survey come from a balance of lower, middle and higher-level economic areas of the region.
The foods surveyed included a variety of relatively inexpensive and widely consumed choices from Canada’s Food Guide that can be used to prepare a whole week’s worth of healthy meals and snacks. They include:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Breads, cereals and other grain-based foods
- Milk and other dairy products
- Meats, fish and poultry
- Canned beans and other meat alternatives.
Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
- In June 2022, twenty-seven PHUs participated in pilot testing the new costing tool using a hybrid model of in-store and online data collection. Depending on the results of the pilot study, the costing process may change slightly in 2023. Therefore, NFB data obtained in 2022 is not comparable to previous years.
- The list of NFB foods that are surveyed is not intended as a “prescriptive” list of items that must be eaten by everyone to maintain health. It only represents one example of a “basket” of foods that can be used to determine benchmark figures for the cost of healthy eating in a region.
- It is important to note that it is NOT appropriate to use local NFB results to calculate what individuals and families should be paying for food. NFB figures are an average of food costs from across the whole region and do not represent food costs in any one community. Food costs and other circumstances can be quite different from one community to another in Simcoe Muskoka.
- The mix of stores and the approach to store selection may differ from one public health unit to another. For this reason, it is inappropriate to make comparisons of the NFB data across PHUs.
Data Used in the Following Dashboards: