What Does A Healthy Meal Cost?

Originally published @allaboutestates.ca

A complimentary copy of the Saturday Star was delivered to my door so I had the pleasure of holding a newspaper in my hand while enjoying my morning coffee (note: we have gone ‘paperless’ and I am not a happy convert). The headlines grabbed my attention: ‘Nursing homes feed seniors on $8.33 a day’.

This is not very much money- especially as I calculated the cost of my Nespresso ($.75) and croissant ($3.00). Healthy food is required by all of us- regardless of age. Much of our social society is built around meal times and the ability to engage and interact with others while enjoying a good meal. Not all of us have the ability to live out our days in our own homes. In December 2015 there were 76,982 long-stay patient beds(1).

For these individuals living in LTC, going to the dining room for a meal may be their only ‘out of room’ activity and for many, it is the highlight of their day. The newspaper article also discussed the lack of culturally appropriate or comfort food that is currently available in most facilities- due to this low budget. Most critically, the Dieticians of Canada in a 2015 report identified the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables available to residents. The number 1 response of the dieticians in this survey when asked “if you had additional funds for the raw food budget, what changes would you make to your menu or food purchases” was ‘improved proteins’. A sad headline I thought, while washing the newsprint off of my hands.

Ps. I was curious about the provincial funding (2)for long-term care in Ontario and have included it below:
– $4.07 billion (7.9% of the overall provincial health budget)
– $142.47 per resident, per day ($52,000 per year)
– Approximately $94.37 per day for nursing and personal care (such as assistance with personal hygiene, bathing, eating, and toileting)
– $11.60 per day for specialized therapies, recreational programs, and support services
– $8.33 per day for raw food (ingredients used to prepare meals)

1. http://www.oltca.com/oltca/OLTCA/LongTermCare/OLTCA/Public/LongTermCare/FactsFigures.aspx#/Ontario%27s%20long-term%20care%20residents%20(2015)
2. Source: 2016 Ontario Budget, LTCH Level-of-Care Per Diem Funding Summary (July 1, 2016)

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