Do low-income Cypriots experience food stress? The cost of a healthy food basket relative to guaranteed minimum income in Nicosia, Cyprus
Andreou, Sofia N.
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Aim: The aim of the present study was to assess the cost, acceptability and affordability of the healthy food basket (HFB) among low-income families in Cyprus. Methods: HFBs were constructed based on the National Guidelines for Nutrition and Exercise for six different types of households. Acceptability was tested through focus groups. Affordability was defined as the cost of the HFB as a percentage of the guaranteed minimum income (GMI). The value of the GMI is set to be equal to €480 for a single individual and increases with the size of the recipient unit in accordance with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development equivalence scales. The Ministry of Labour estimates that, on average, nearly 50% of the GMI is required for food. Results: The total monthly budget for HFB is 0.80, 1.11, 1.27, 1.28, 1.44 and 1.48 times higher than the GMI budget for food among different types of households in Cyprus (a single woman, a single man, a couple, a single woman with two children, a single man with two children and a couple with two children, respectively). In particular, a family with two children on GMI would need to spend a large proportion of their income on the HFB (71.68%). Conclusions: The GMI scheme appears not to consider the cost of healthy food, and thus, families on welfare payments in Cyprus are at a high risk of experiencing food stress. Therefore, additional research is required to measure the cost of the six HFBs in various settings.