‘A really alarming crisis’: Iqaluit’s food bank now feeding 500 people a day, many of them children

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Ever since March, Rachel Blais has been watching the quantity of people who come via Iqaluit’s food bank for a sizzling meal tick upward.

In October of final 12 months, the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre was serving about 150 meals per day. Blais, the food bank’s government director, says they’re now serving greater than 500 — properly past their capability.

“It is a very, very substantial improve, and it’s leading to us being unable to really sustain with not solely the amount of the demand, however the high quality of food that we do attempt to offer to our neighborhood members,” Blais stated.

About 7,400 people dwell in Nunavut’s capital, in keeping with the newest federal census. Blais stated many of the people who come via the food bank’s doorways are sometimes single adults, however they’re now seeing different demographics within the combine too.

“We’re seeing households with children coming into the food centre, and we’re seeing children on their very own coming into the food centre, which isn’t one thing that we might normally see,” she stated.

The exterior of the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre, pictured in August 2022. (Sarah Krymalowski/CBC)

“It is a really alarming disaster in our neighborhood … and we’ve but to see a significant response from any stage of authorities to handle this disaster.”

Across the nation, the quantity of Canadians accessing food banks is greater than it has ever been. Food Banks Canada’s newest report estimates greater than 6,200 people throughout the three territories accessed their native food banks in March 2022 alone, and practically a third of them had been children.

“We’re seeing the best food bank utilization in historical past,” stated Richard Matern, director of analysis with Food Banks Canada.

He stated the quantity of visits countrywide hit practically 1.5 million in March, up 15 per cent from March 2021 and up 35 per cent from March 2019.

Richard Matern is the director of analysis at Food Banks Canada. He stated food bank utilization throughout the nation is greater than up to now. (Richard Matern)

“We have not seen will increase like this for the reason that aftermath of the 2008 recession,” he stated.

In earlier years, food bank utilization has sometimes mirrored unemployment charges, the report notes, however this 12 months defied that pattern, with unemployment charges plummeting and food bank utilization nonetheless rising — “We’re in uncharted territory proper now,” Matern stated.

Matern stated the rise in use got here largely as a result of pandemic advantages ended and since inflation has elevated. For people who had been simply getting by final 12 months, these two components pushed them over the sting, he stated.

Matern added what’s taking place within the North is a “magnified model” of the Canada-wide image, given the upper price of residing in Northern communities.

Blais stated the fee of residing has affected hunters in Nunavut, too. She’s calling on governments to help hunters, pay them for his or her work and put money into Northern infrastructure so hunters have a neater time harvesting nutritionally wealthy nation food for his or her communities.

“The authorities’s strategy to addressing food insecurity traditionally, for the reason that Eighties, has been to depend on food charities,” she stated.

“As we’re seeing proper now with this unraveling of the food charity business, that isn’t a sustainable strategy and it is not addressing the foundation situation to the issue.”

Food insecurity “is not a food drawback,” she added — it exists as a result of people do not have sufficient revenue to afford food.

“We do must see coverage measures from all ranges of authorities to extend people’s incomes to maintain up with the fee of residing on this nation, significantly right here within the North,” she stated.

“We have people who’re residing properly under the poverty line all throughout the nation, however within the North, it is a significantly dire situation.”

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