The Rising Cost Of Food For Families In South Africa
Author: Melissa Cohen
The price of food is rising continually. What does it cost to feed a working class family and how does it impact nutrition?
The price of the average food basket increasing may cause a headache for a middle-income family budget. But to a lower income family, food inflation means the difference between a balanced diet and compromised nutrition.
The Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action’s (Pacsa's) data indicates that food prices are still rising in South Africa.The Pacsa food price inflation basket documents the price and affordability of working class household essentials within the context of high unemployment, social grants, and low wages.Rather than being nutritionally comprehensive, the 36-item basket being tracked is indicative of what the working class South African family can afford. They do, however, include a second –nutritionally complete – basket to highlight the contrast.The food basket, which includes such items as maize meal, various meats, and various vegetables, experienced a 10% increase over the past year. As of March 2017, the basket was at R2,068.35, up R198.96 from R1,869.39 last year.The basket itself is not nutritionally complete, rather reflecting on the reality of what the working class in South Africa can afford. A second basket, which is nutritionally complete, is also included to further highlight the disparity between what people need and what they can afford.The Pacsa food basket of 36 basic foods showed a 10% increase or R198.96 over the past year to R2,068.35 in March 2017.The cost of a food basket for a family of four is slightly higher at R2,562.38. For a family of five, it’s R3,237.08, and for a family of seven, R4,480.76.
Can A Minimum-Wage Family Afford To Eat?
Pacsa revealed that the difference between a food basket that is not nutritionally complete, versus one that is, is R2,412.41 (R2,068.35 vs R4,480.76).The social action group argues that 73% of the R3,500 proposed National Minimum wage, would cover the food basket for a family of 4 people (R2,562.38), alone. Because of the direct correlation between what we eat and how well our bodies function, the implications of the cost of food for the minimum wage-earning household is dire.