Food insecurity is the lack of access food primarily due to a lack of money. It’s a serious public health problem that negatively impacts physical, mental, and social health. This problem can become worse for Inuit in urban areas during this COVID-19 pandemic as many services people have had to close their doors.
We know this is a serious problem for many Inuit, and specifically Inuit women. It can be worse for those who live in overcrowded homes or who don’t have secure housing whether in Inuit Nunangat or in cities in the south. The federal government has made efforts to be sure that all Canadians have access to the food they need to live a healthy life during this time.
The Canadian government has provided an extra $100 million to support Canadian food banks and local food organizations. These funds have distributed to national food serving organizations including Food Banks Canada ($50 million), Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and the Breakfast Club with $5 million to each.
An additional $30 million is available to support local food organizations. Pauktuutit and ITK are advocating for some of these funds be given directly to Inuit to support food banks and food serving organizations used by Inuit.
Where to Turn for Help in Your Community
Food Banks Canada received $50M from the federal government and has launched a $150M fundraising campaign. To connect with your local food bank delivery organization for more information and options https://www.foodbankscanada.ca/Utility-Pages/Find-a-Food-Bank.aspx
The Breakfast Club of Canada has launched an online special grant application for supports to the community with a priority to support Indigenous, remote and fly-in communities. To access the application form go to https://www.breakfastclubcanada.org/covid-special-grant-application/
Second Harvest (Canada) announced a $4.5M COVID-19 grant program. To find out more about Second Harvest go to https://secondharvest.ca/who-we-are/ To access the application form for the grant program, https://www.foodrescue.ca/ will have information on available resources.
The Government of Canada has granted Community Food Centres Canada’s (CFCC) $5 million to distribute to organizations that are trying to cope with COVID-19 and the food insecurity crisis Good Food Access Fund: https://cfccanada.ca/en/Good-Food-Access-Fund
The Nunatsiavut Government announced a Food Supplement Program to assist beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement residing in the Constituency of Canada in dealing with impacts associated with the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. This link will take you to more information and their application form: https://www.nunatsiavut.com/article/covid-19-food-supplement-program- inplace-for-labrador-inuit-in-constituency-of-canada/
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation’s COVID-10 Support Plan provides funding for urban Inuit organizations (UIO) and individuals. Please go to https://www.irc.inuvialuit.com
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. will be providing $2.5M to support Inuit living in urban areas.
Urban Inuit organizations in Montreal will receive $500,000 from Makivik to support Inuit during this pandemic.
The Child First Initiative is administered by the Government of Canada to ensure Inuit children have access to the health, social and educational products, services and supports they need. https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1536348095773/1536348148664
The Federal Emergency Community Support Fund is an investment of $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need. It’s delivered through the United Way Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and the Community Foundations of Canada.
- United Way Canada http://www.unitedway.ca/campaign/national-covid-19-response/
- For local updates and to find your local United Way please visit http://www.unitedway.ca/how-wehelp/find-your-uwc/
- The Canadian Red Cross https://www.redcross.ca/
- Community Foundations of Canada: https://www.communityfoundations.ca/initiatives/responding-tocovid-19/
Find a Food Bank
The NAFC represents 107 Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations across Canada which provide culturally appropriate services for Indigenous people living in urban centres. Some Friendship Centres operate food banks/cupboards, or related supports, and there is a database on the NAFC website which allows a geographic search of Friendship Centres in a given area.
(See website: https://www.nafc.ca/)
TI is an Inuit-specific, provincial service provider that provides social support, cultural activities, counselling and crisis intervention as a one-stop resource centre to meet the rapidly growing, complex and evolving needs of Inuit in Ontario. TI operates a food bank in partnership with the Ottawa Food Bank, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. (See website: https://www.tungasuvvingatinuit.ca/)
BCC is a non-profit organization which provides funding support for breakfast programs as a way to promote food security among school-age children, and to foster improved academic success. BCC is issuing special grants for community organizations, including in Indigenous communities, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (See website:https://www.breakfastclubcanada.org/covid-special-grant-application/)
President’s Choice Children’s Charity school grants provide funding to deliver nutritious food as well as funding up to $10,000 annually for food-based education programs including cooking classes, farm tours, dietitian services, or equipment like green houses, growing towers, and composting systems. (See website:https://www.pcchildrenscharity.ca/grants-for-school-nutrition/)
CFTC is a non-profit organization which focuses on projects supporting children in community-led approaches that focus on food security, capacity building, and education.
(See website: https://canadianfeedthechildren.ca/)
CFCC is a non-profit organization which provides ideas, resources and helps partner organizations across Canada so they can establish responsive, financially stable Community Food Centres. These centres work to bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food. CFCC also provides a Good Food Access Fund to help provide emergency relief for the most vulnerable populations, including children, single parents, Indigenous peoples, seniors, and those on disability supports. (See following websites: https://cfccanada.ca/ and https://goodfoodorganizations.ca/)
The FNHA in British Columbia has developed “Planning for Food Security – A Toolkit for the COVID-19 Pandemic”. This resource includes ideas, templates, tools and information to support short, medium and long term planning.
The Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan provides a range of economic supports for individuals, businesses and sectors. Indigenous Peoples are eligible for these supports.
The COVID-19 Economic Response Plan provides $305 million a new, distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. This funding is also providing support to regional, urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations.
Funds can be used for a wide range of measures, including measures to address food insecurity.
(See following websites: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1585189335380/1585189357198 and https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1584819394157/1584819418553#b)
This funding provides up to an extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May 2020. Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply.
To address growing concerns about food security and affordability related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding provides an additional $25 million to Nutrition North Canada to extend the list of perishable and non-perishable items subsidized when shipped by air to all 116 Nutrition North Canada eligible communities from now until March 31, 2021.
The Harvesters Support Grant promotes access to traditional foods by reducing the high costs associated with hunting and harvesting. It provides $40 million over 5 years, and $8 million per year ongoing, to Indigenous governments and organizations representing eligible Nutrition North Canada communities.
Healthy Eating Tools, Information and Resources
Dietitians of Canada
The Dietitians of Canada website provides advice related to COVID-19 on nutrition, supporting immune system, nutrition during self-isolation and breastfeeding, among other topics.
Government of Canada
Through the Food and Nutrition webpage, can link to a broad range of reliable information, including on:
- Canada’s Food Guide, including advice and tips on healthy food choices, healthy eating habits, and many recipes. (Web link: https://food-guide.canada.ca/)
- COVID-19 and Food Safety, including safe food practices and shopping. Note, scientists and food safety authorities around the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. There are currently no reported cases of the virus being spread through food.
CFIA is the federal agency dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, to enhance the health and well-being of Canada`s people, environment and economy. CFIA is currently working to address the challenges and concerns raised by industry and consumers regarding COVID-19, and has provided COVID-related information on its website.(See website: https://www.inspection.gc.ca/covid-19/eng/1584729805758/1584729899016)
Food Security Promising Practices (during COVID-19 and beyond)ClimateTellingThis is an Indigenous community portal for climate change and health. It includes information on climate change adaptation initiatives related to food and food security, which are funded through Indigenous Services Canada`s Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program.(See website: http://www.climatetelling.info/food-security.html)
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)‘s website includes information on community-based initiatives (including food banks) that play a role in addressing food security in Inuit Nunangat, as well as potential funding resources. (See website: https://www.itk.ca/nuluaq-mapping-project/)
NIDA is gathering examples of communities, organizations, grants, etc., to share models of food security and caring for community, including both existing practices and how communities are coming together during the COVID-19 pandemic.(See web link: http://nada.ca/?page_id=3200&fbclid=IwAR1Oii5BfsATp42JnYnCOQK3pT42KtOu)
FSC is a pan-Canadian alliance of organizations and individuals working together to advance food security and food sovereignty through three inter-related goals: zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems. Its website includes links to Indigenous networks, partnerships and best practices, such as the Northern Food Network and the FSC Indigenous Circle.(See website: https://www.foodsecurecanada.org)
Healthy Living and Other Links, Supports and Services
NIDA is a clearinghouse of information and resources on diabetes among Indigenous peoples. Its webpage on COVID-19 includes a wide range of healthy living resources, including related to food, exercise and physical and mental wellness.(See web link:http://nada.ca/?page_id=3172)
Diabetes Canada has a dedicated webpage on information and resources related to diabetes and COVID-19. (See web link: https://www.diabetes.ca/campaigns/covid-19-(coronavirus)-and-diabetes)
The AFN has extensive information and resources specific to COVID-19 on its website, including a fact sheet on the impact of commercial tobacco use and COVID-19.(See the following web links: https://www.afn.ca/coronavirus/; https://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CoronaVirus_Factsheet__Tobacco_ENG.pdf)
The ITK has information on funding, supports, and resources, infographics (including on safe food handling and shopping) and other publications related to COVID-19. (See the following web links: https://www.itk.ca/what-we-do/covid19/; https://www.itk.ca/covid19-infographics/)
MNC`s website includes a daily message on COVID-19 by the Manitoba Métis Federation on what the Manitoba Métis government is doing to support Métis citizens affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (See web link: https://www2.metisnation.ca/news/)
NWAC`s website includes information related to COVID-19 as well as toll-free telephone numbers for a team of in-house Elders who are available to provide support and help build resiliency during the pandemic. (See web link: https://www.nwac.ca/covid19/)