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Eating and Nutrition

Good nutrition is key to healthy living at all stages of life. Renfrew County and District Health Unit offers nutrition programs, resources and services to promote healthy eating and create supportive nutrition environments. We work to make the healthy choice the easy choice where you live, work, learn and play.

We do not provide individual nutrition counseling or complete the Special Diet Allowance (SDA) or Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Nutritional Allowance forms.

Registered Dietitian VS Nutritionist

  • A Registered Dietitian is a trained food and nutrition expert. They are licensed professionals and recognized as experts in translating the scientific, medical, and nutritional evidence into practical information that can be used to help individuals, families and communities achieve better health.
  • Registered Dietitians complete an accredited undergraduate degree, an accredited internship and successfully pass the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination.
  • In Ontario, Nutritionist is not a legally protected title. Nutritionists can have diverse levels of education, as specialized education is not a requirement. There is also no regulatory body that governs a Nutritionist’s practice. Nutritionists can still be a great resource and source of nutrition information.
  • If you are wondering whether or not your provider is a Registered Dietitian or a Nutritionist, Registered Dietitians can be found through the regulatory body College of Dietitians of Ontario.

Where Do Dietitians Work?

Registered Dietitians can be found in a wide range of settings in Ontario, some of these include:

  • Hospitals: Dietitians can be found in many hospital settings. They support and monitor the patients who are sick and require special diets due to medical conditions. A referral from a physician is often required to see a Dietitian in a hospital.
  • Family Health Teams: Family Health Team Dietitians can help support patients with their nutrition and lifestyle concerns. Counselling and group programs are often only for patients of the family health team.
  • Long-term Care Homes: All long-term care homes have a Registered Dietitian to help monitor and support the residents’ nutritional concerns and intake. The Dietitian’s services are usually available for anyone who lives in the home.
  • Public Health Departments: Public Health Dietitians help support the community and provide information and resources to the public on a variety of nutrition topics. They also support policy development and several health promotion programs. Individual counselling is not available through a Public Health Dietitian.
  • Private Practice: Private Practice Dietitians can help you develop a plan for your nutrition and lifestyle goals and can help you with a variety of health concerns. In most cases you do not need a referral to see a private practice Dietitian, however a fee will be charged for their services. Check your insurance plan because many plans cover the cost of a Registered Dietitian.

Speak to a Registered Dietitian

  • Reach out to your primary physician or family doctor as they may be able to refer you to a Dietitian.
  • Health Connect Ontario: Health Connect Ontario offers free nutrition information and advice to residents of Ontario. If you’re looking for guidance about food and healthy eating call 811 or start a chat on their website.
  • Dietitians of Canada: Find a private practice Dietitian through the Find a Dietitian feature on Dietitians of Canada’s Website.

Food Affordability in Renfrew County and District Report

Each year Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) monitors food affordability and food insecurity.

What is Food Insecurity?

  • Food insecurity occurs when a person is not able to regularly access safe and nutritious food. Insecure access to food often occurs due to financial constraints. When incomes are low, people may have to choose between eating well or paying for other basic necessities like housing and utilities.
  • Food insecurity can range from worrying about having enough to eat (referred to as marginal food insecurity), to not eating for entire days due to a lack of money (severe food insecurity).

Food Insecurity in Renfrew County and District (RCD)

  • In RCD, nearly 1 in 6 (17%) households are food insecure. This includes those who are marginally, moderately, and severely food insecure.

Monitoring Food Affordability

  • RCDHU uses the ONFB tool to monitor food affordability across RCD. The ONFB is a list of food items that make up a hypothetical grocery basket based on Canada’s Food Guide (CFG). It is intended to model what a family might buy while following nutritional guidelines.
  • Each year, RCDHU staff visit nine local grocery stores and collect prices for the same 61 food items. Food costs are then combined with housing rental rates and compared to various income situations to determine the local affordability of food.
  • See the Food Affordability Report to view the various income scenarios assessed.
  • Results indicate that families with lower incomes struggle to afford food. This is due not only to high food prices, but also to incomes that are not enough to cover basic necessities

Who is Most at Risk?

  • Individuals receiving social assistance are at higher risk of experiencing food insecurity. In Canada, 69.9% of households receiving social assistance report experiencing food insecurity.
  • Being employed, receiving wages, or having a salary does not guarantee protection from food insecurity. More than half (60.2%) of food-insecure households in Canada indicated wages, salaries, or self-employment as their main source of income.
  • Besides income, individuals may experience a disproportionately high rate of food insecurity if they:
    • Live in rental housing
    • Are a single female parent
    • Are a member of a racialized group
    • Identify as Indigenous

Negative Health Impacts

Food insecurity has a significant impact on health. Individuals who are food insecure are more likely to suffer from poor physical and mental health, and conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

The effects of food insecurity on the mental and physical health of individuals places a substantial burden on the health care system, resulting in an increase in cost. For instance, those who are marginally food insecure and severely food insecure have 26% and 69% higher odds of being admitted to acute care compared to those who are food secure.

Children and Food Insecurity

  • In Ontario, one in four (24.6%) children under the age of 18 live in a food insecure household.
  • In Canada, the prevalence of children or young adults being food insecure is nearly triple that of adults 75 and older.

Food insecurity is a significant concern, as it can have long lasting negative impacts on a child’s health. Children experiencing food insecurity are more likely to develop:

  • asthma
  • mental health conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression)
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence needed to make positive lifestyle choices (e.g., eating well, being active)

Solving the Problem

Rather than focusing on the symptoms of food insecurity (e.g., lack of food) solutions need to be grounded in its root cause – poverty. Policies that target poverty are needed, including policies that ensure:

  • Adequate working incomes and benefits for the basic necessities of living, like housing, food, and other expenses (e.g., living wage)
  • Social assistance income (e.g., Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Program) that reflects the true cost of living
  • Tax subsidies, exemptions, and credits for low-income households
  • Guaranteed basic income for all

Food Banks are not the solution. Emergency food programs, such as food banks and meal programs cannot solve food insecurity. These programs can offer temporary relief, but those who access these services continue to experience food insecurity. Research shows that there were 1,462,795 food bank visits in March of 2022 compared to the 6,906,000 people who live in food-insecure households. This represents a proportion of only 21%.

How You Can Take Action

We all deserve to have our basic needs met and live with dignity. Take a strong stance against food insecurity and use your voice to advocate for change.

To Learn More

Past Reports


  • Canada’s Food Guide: Beyond the food guide, you can also find tips for eating, recipes, and information to help you achieve your food goals.
  • Managed by Dietitians of Canada, offers resources on a variety of nutrition topics for all ages.
  • Cookspiration: Created by Dietitians of Canada, Cookspiration is an app that helps you find recipes for any time, or day of the week.
  • Foodland Ontario: Learn about Ontario in-season produce, seasonal recipes and buying local food.
  • Diabetes Canada: Diabetes Canada has resources, recipes and information to help manage type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes.
  • Heart&Stroke: Find recipes and resources to help support heart health and healthy living.


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Pembroke Office

141 Lake Street, Pembroke, Ontario K8A 5L8

Phone: 613-732-3629
Toll Free: 1-800-267-1097
Fax: 613-735-3067

Hours of Operation
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Renfrew Service Hub (By Appointment Only)

120 Plaunt Street South, Renfrew, Ontario, K7V 1M5

Services offered by appointment only.

If you require an alternative accessible format or assistance accessing information on this page, please contact us at or 613-732-3629.