The cost of three square meals a day has crept further out of reach for people with the lowest income in Simcoe Muskoka, a new report shows. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s annual Nutritious Food Basket Survey shows that the cost of feeding a family of four rose eight per cent in the last year.

The survey shows that, locally, one in eight households — roughly 70,000 people — does not have enough income to support a basic healthy diet. Within that group, 1,500 children are going to school or to bed hungry, often on a daily basis.

“This is a serious public health problem in Ontario and Simcoe Muskoka,” said public health nutritionist Vanessa Hurley. “Children who go to school hungry may not reach their learning potential. Children who are food insecure experience more asthma and depression. Being food insecure can increase the risk of negative pregnancy and birth outcomes as well.”