Understanding the numbers.

Daimnation quoted this Ottawa Citizen article regarding the daily food allowance for residents of long term care facilities in Ontario:

Never let it be said that Ontario’s Liberal government doesn’t care about the elderly. Earlier this month, the province increased the daily food allowance for people in long-term care by 11 cents. That’s right, a dime and a penny. That means the nursing home your mother is in now has $5.57 cents a day to feed her.

How could anyone provide three nutritious meals for so little, you might ask. Not surprisingly, the long-term care homes can’t. The daily amount should actually be $7, the Dietitians of Canada say. The dietitians told the provincial government that last year, but it didn’t act.

Even at $7 a day, the province’s nursing homes would be stretching to provide three main meals, three snacks and drinks.

Now I’m no happier with the Ontario Liberal government, but until recently my wife was the cook at a daycare and she pointed out that numbers like that were not all that far off. At first glance $5.57 looks like an embarassing number, but in fact, $5.57 is 80% of the recommended $7.

My wife spent about $350 per week on food, or about $70 per day to feed a hot meal, two snacks, and drinks to about 75 children.That’s about 93 cents a day. She suggested that seniors wouldn’t eat that much more than active children so the numbers would be similar. Providing three full mails, three snacks and drinks should still be possible for around $5. And the food she bought was all health-conscious with a menu approved by a nutritionist so she wasn’t cutting corners. Meals included chicken, beef, turkey, liver, and fish, all bought fresh every week.

The article itself suggests how small the numbers are after it paints the scary picture:

The extra money would let the nursing homes feed their 75,000 residents such things as one scrambled egg and one sausage link for breakfast (34 cents) or a banana at lunch (29 cents). At dinner, a baked potato and sour cream (27 cents) would be possible and a tuna sandwich would be affordable for an evening snack (34 cents). We’re not talking filet mignon and lobster here.

It is difficult for the average person to understand what the numbers really mean when articles like this are all they have to go by.

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