It’s getting more expensive to eat well in Chatham-Kent.

According to the Public Health Unit’s annual survey of food costs, the price of feeding a family of four for one week is $198.32.

“This year, the number went up by 6%. We know that since 2009 it’s gone up by 25%, and those numbers are not going to go down unfortunately,” says Public Health Dietitian Lyndsay Davidson. “Things like toilet paper, soap, household cleaning supplies, [that price] doesn’t cover those items, so those are still in addition to the food that people need to purchase.”

Ted McMeekin has been tasked with studying the realities of rural poverty in Ontario.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has asked McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and also Wynne’s parliamentary assistant, to work with government partners and stakeholders, communities and people with lived experience to prepare a report on strategies to combat rural poverty across the province.

Though no timeline has been set for the report, he said work is already underway with a “kitchen cabinet” team of researchers including professors, Queen’s Park staffers and a former president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

The local war on poverty is losing one of its leading voices as Pathway to Potential sheds its two employees and shuts down its office.

The anti-poverty initiative — fully funded by the city and county — closed its downtown Chatham Street East office on Dec. 16. Marketing and community engagement manager Laura Tucker departed Dec. 23 after five years, and executive director Adam Vasey is working without an office until his Jan. 20 departure.

But the city insists that the programs and initiatives begun or directed by P2P will continue, as will the local fight against poverty.

“Nothing will fall through the cracks,” Jelena Payne, Windsor’s community development and health commissioner, told the Star Wednesday.

In Canada, household food insecurity affects 1 in 6 Canadian children and over 1.6 million households experienced some level of food insecurity in 2012.

In the Waterloo region specifically, 6.8% of households experienced food insecurity in 2014.

Findings show that by addressing food insecurity through targeted policy interventions, reductions in health care costs and improved overall health can be observed. Long-term solutions are needed in terms of income support, such that people aren’t making trade-offs for nutritional quality of their food.

Manitoba families are among the biggest beneficiaries of revamped federal child benefit payments, but new estimates suggest the program won’t reduce child poverty as much as first predicted.

The national average monthly payment is $570.

In Manitoba, the average monthly payment to families is $680 — $8,160 a year — an amount second only to Nunavut among all provinces and territories, matching national data that show Manitoba has the second-highest rate of child poverty, behind Nunavut.

Initially, the Liberals said 11,500 kids would be lifted out of poverty by the benefit, but subsequent analyses using more detailed data show that’s likely to be closer to 8,500. Provincewide, the government expects about 21,000 children and 13,900 parents to be lifted out of poverty because of the new benefit.

As families struggle amid the continued economic downturn, a growing number of students are arriving to school hungry — with no breakfast, packed snacks or lunches — depending more than ever on social agencies for food donations.

Up to one-third of Calgary schools now receive “single-meal” supports from the Calgary Food Bank and other local agencies, getting either breakfast or lunches delivered to students whose parents can’t provide those meals at home.

Food insecurity is also spilling over into the weekend, when kids who are hungry at school are scavenging for food Saturday and Sunday because parents are either at work or there isn’t enough at home.