Food costs a challenge for Saanich households

Survey shows some Saanich households spend up to half their income on food

A survey by the District of Saanich is providing food for thought on how many of the community’s residents are struggling to make ends meet.

The survey showed that 28.1 per cent of Saanich residents spent anywhere between one-quarter and one-half of their household income on food. That’s more than double the national average, where the Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending showed the average Canadian household spent $7,980 on food, representing about 13.6 per cent of their total household spending.

When those figures are combined with the skyrocketing costs of housing in Greater Victoria, the obstacles facing too many Saanich families begin to sink in.

The survey is part of the district’s Agricultural and Food Security Plan, scheduled for completion in early 2017. The plan sets out to establish an understanding of local agriculture and food security vision and goals, identify gaps in agriculture and food security policy and practice in Saanich, and develop options for the future direction that Saanich should take in supporting local agriculture and food security.

While the district is hesitant to jump to any conclusions on Saanich’s state of food security, it’s clear that there is work that needs to be done to improve the conditions too many Saanich residents are forced to endure. Saanich council and staff deserve credit for showing the foresight in putting together a plan before the issue reaches crisis proportions.

That crisis has already hit the local rental housing market, and many agencies and municipalities (including Saanich) are moving ahead with affordable housing projects to try and stem the demand. It’s becoming clear that equal measures will be needed to address food security. Community gardens are one way to meet this growing demand. Several community gardens have now taken root throughout Saanich, but more work lies ahead for the district to create the conditions that will help them grow.