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Canadian North

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Need towers over food bank supply
Food Banks Canada demands federal support for Northern food security

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012

Northern Canada's hunger crisis attracted the attention of Food Banks Canada in its annual national report, Hunger Count 2012, released last Oct. 31.

NNSL photo/graphic

Shae-Lynn Rinas, left, and Robyn Rinas display a typical flat (also known as a bag) of food given out at the Inuvik food bank. A basic bag that a family of two qualifies for every two weeks contains two cans of fruit, two cans of vegetables, two cans of pasta sauce, two cans of beans, two cans of soup, one package of pasta and two packs of Kraft Dinner. - NNSL file photo

Food Banks Canada called for greater social investment on the part of the federal government for Northern communities in their second of five recommendations, and in a full page of the report dedicated to the issue.

"Food Banks Canada is really concerned about what is happening in the North" said Katharine Schmidt, executive director for Food Banks Canada. "We know we're not reaching near the number of people that need our help. We know the costs are exorbitant compared to the rest of Canada so as we think about the issue of hunger and poverty, we want to make sure we have solutions that will be helpful to the North."

Those solutions include a call for a federal Northern Food Security Innovation Fund, which would provide communities with more resources to get local food programs off the ground, as well as a school breakfast program and improved infrastructure for community food banks such as a community freezer or community centre space.

Stacey VanMetre, a community case worker for the Yellowknife Salvation Army food bank which distributed 150 Christmas hampers to communities in the NWT in 2011, said the food bank provided 2,946 hampers to families in Yellowknife, 1,514 of those cases involved children.

Hunger Count 2012 states the insufficient number of food banks in the NWT means the need for emergency food is far more than what current numbers suggest.

Schmidt said one of the reasons food banks struggle in Northern communities is a lack of a donor base. Whereas southern food banks can more reliably count on donations from the community, businesses and the food industry, fewer of those supports are available at the same level in the NWT and other territories.

VanMeter said the Salvation Army particularly feels the pinch during summer months, when donations slow down and thanksgiving and Christmas fundraising are months away.

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