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No breakfast for Grise Fiord students
Resolute crash and Nutrition North delay food for community and school

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, September 1, 2011

The breakfast program at Umimmak School in Grise Fiord is struggling to keep students nourished while awaiting fresh food deliveries to the local Co-op.

NNSL photo/graphic

The breakfast program at Umimmak School in Grise Fiord is struggling to keep students nourished while awaiting fresh food deliveries to the local Co-op. - submitted photo

Previous to an Aug. 31 flight, food had not arrived in the community since before Aug. 20, when First Air flight 6560 which was carrying food for the hamlet crashed in Resolute.

"We've had late flights for the last three or four weeks, so as a result, we haven't had too much food at the Co-op," said principal Leslie Turpin. "The coolers are empty. They don't have anything to put out."

The Brighter Futures breakfast program has been running with minimal supplies since classes resumed Aug. 22. All 40 of the school's kindergarten to Grade 12 students take part in the program, Turpin said.

"Right now we can only offer granola bars," she said, noting the program usually serves eggs, toast, cereal, bannock, and muffins for breakfast, as well as snacks of fruit, cheese and yogurt throughout the day.

"We have no fruit, no cheese, no milk, no eggs. Granola bars and bannock we offered last week because one of our teachers made it. We can't offer cereal or boiled eggs or anything because there has been none since we got back in mid-August."

"We weren't able to get our food in until today (Aug. 31)," said Grise Fiord Inuit Co-operative general manager Ray Richer. "I was hoping this food would get across on the weekend. There was an extra section (on the plane), but that extra section was passengers."

Despite the fact food was destroyed in the Resolute crash, Richer blames the delays on the new Nutrition North program.

"(Food)'s not classed as food anymore," he said. "It's classed as cargo. Back in the old days, it was classed as food mail and it took priority on a lot of things going on a plane. Now they take passengers and then they take cargo after."

The delays are problematic because of the distance the food has to travel, which increases the odds of spoilage. Food is trucked from Montreal to Ottawa, flown to Iqaluit, then to Arctic Bay and Resolute before changing planes to go to Grise Fiord.

The delays are stressful for school staff, who are concerned about children getting the nutrition they need to make it through the school day.

"The younger kids especially look forward to their snacks and to breakfast," Turpin said. "It gets them in. It hasn't affected attendance, but it has affected morale. It's sad to watch and it makes them upset."

Richer says the co-op is trying to meet the needs of the community and the school.

"I know they have juice boxes and other stuff on the resupply order, but it's going to take a little while to get that organized, too," he said. "We're getting more food in. I got a load in today (Aug. 31) and there's another load coming in Thursday (Sept. 1). That's the best we can do."

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