How Much Should I Budget for Food If Nursing Homes Budget Is $8.33 per day?

The Ontario provincial funding rate for food for residents in long term care facilities, most of whom are seniors, has always been lower than seems reasonable. In 2014 the amount was $7.80 per person per day for the “raw food.” That number was so low that a public outcry managed to get a small increase to $8.33 per person per day. It’s been stuck there ever since, though, despite the rate of inflation for food and the drop in the value of the Canadian dollar versus the American dollar which affects the prices of imported fruits and vegetables. Reading an article in The Star made me wonder what I should budget for our food costs if the government believes that a person can eat healthily for $8.33 a day.

Why Does the Government Provide More Money for Prisoner’s Food Per Day than for Pensioners?

One fact has always been extremely upsetting in the provincial funding for food: the funds provided for residents in Long Term Care homes are lower, per person, than those for prisoners.

At first, it may seem vaguely reasonable. Aren’t more prisoners younger men who have a higher caloric need than most pensioners who are often older women?

But then you realize that more of the older residents have special dietary needs. You shouldn’t eat grapefruit, for instance, if you taking certain medications. If you are diabetic, you may need to carefully balance the amount of carbohydrates you eat at each meal. Overall, due to reduced ability to absorb nutrients, you need to maximize the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat to increase the likelihood of receiving proper nutrition.
And, of course, it seems “morally” wrong to feed wrong-doers better food than older or disabled persons.

In March 2017, the Ontario government is paying $8.33 per person per day for raw food costs for each resident in a long term care facility. It is paying $9.73 per day for prisoners.

That just seems unjust.

What Could I Afford at $8.33 Per Day for Raw Food Costs?

I realized that this question has an attached question: where am I living? If I live in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, I have access to a large variety of food stores. Within walking distance of my suburban home (yes, some suburbs are walkable!) I can count six grocery stores, a butcher, a bakery and an organic greengrocer. Only two of those grocery stores belong to a major Canadian chain. The others are independents who tend to compete well on pricing.

When I think of one of our vacations to the Maritimes, though, I remember being unhappy with the fruit and vegetable selections at both the big chain grocery stores in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. The prices were between reasonable and high, but the quality was terrible. And many items I can easily get here were not even for sale.

Where you live will likely play a big factor in your grocery budget. If you have to pay $7 to get a bus to and from the store, that is another big cost that affects those that can least afford it.

Budgeting for a Typical Day’s Food And Its Costs

Ok, let’s try any way.

Breakfast
1 /2 cup of oatmeal
1 / 4 cup of milk
1 serving of coffee

Snack
2 clementines

Lunch
2 cups nappa cabbage
1 /4 c craisins
1 english muffin
1 /4 c pork tenderloin, leftovers
1 tea bag

Snack
1 gala apple

Supper
1 /4 of a store-made roast chicken
1 cup broccoli
1 /4 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup jasmine rice
2 home made chocolate chip cookies

Snack
1 /2 cup Rice Krispies
1 /2 cup milk
1 mini Kit Kat

My total cost? About $9.

Could I do this in another location though? I doubt it. The fruits and vegetables I buy almost always are purchased at the independent grocery stores. They have noticeably lower prices. I’m sure that many people who don’t live in a “food oasis” like this must pay much more for the same food.

What Will I Budget for Food Costs for Retirement?

I don’t know exactly what I should budget for food costs for retirement, but I know it will be more than $8.33 per day.

It’s especially important to remember that the $8.33 per day includes

  • Any food lost due to spoilage. (Ever open a carton of eggs and find one is cracked? Opened a head of lettuce and found brown leaves in the middle?)
  • Any food for special holidays such as a turkey, fancy dessert, cheeses.
  • All snacks even the occasional candy bar or soda pop.


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