NWT organizations will receive $640,000 to improve food security in the territory, MP Michael McLeod announced on Tuesday at the Salvation Army in Yellowknife.
Nineteen organizations across the territory will receive funding, with the Salvation Army itself getting $285,000.
The funds come from the $100 million Emergency Fund for food security announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in April to enable food banks and local food organizations to better respond to community needs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Covid-19 crisis has presented many challenges to (the Salvation Army) as it has to all Canadians, especially to those who need food banks,” said McLeod. “Every month, organizations like yours serve an average of 5.6 million meals to Canadians in their time of need. Stats Canada reports that in the height of the crisis almost one in seven Canadians indicated that they live in a household where there is food insecurity.
“This funding will help local organizations feed (residents) across the territory in communities like Yellowknife, Tulita, Tsiigehtchic, Katlodeeche First Nation, Fort Providence, Norman Wells, Hay River, Deline, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk and Fort Smith. This funding is part of the first-ever food policy for Canada. Launched last year, the policy is a road map for a healthier and more sustainable food system in Canada, ensuring that people are able to access a sufficient amount of safe, nutritious and culturally diverse food.”
Jason Brinson, executive director of the Yellowknife Salvation Army, said some of the funding has already been used to extend the Army’s outreach beyond Yellowknife to other communities.
Resources for food security have helped out Whati, Behchoko, Fort Providence, Fort Smith and Hay River, Brinson said.
“We’re thankful for the financial assistance that has made this possible. Without that we couldn’t as easily provide the food security to the broader NWT,” he said.
Brinson explained that in such a large territory, the Salvation Army relies on its partners in the communities to help it assess and meet local food security needs.
He cited the example of a unnamed community with a Northern Store, where a partner organization would identify families in need, and the Salvation Army would then purchase items for food hampers.
“We’re very blessed to be in a position of helping people in need,” Brinson said.
The need in Yellowknife is such that the organization distributes about 200 food hampers in a normal month, and operates food bank services twice a week.
McLeod explained that possible additional funding for food security would depend on how long the pandemic lasts.
“We’ve committed to ensure that people are taken care of and that they have enough to eat. (But) at this point, this is the announcement. It’s not connected to another announcement. We’ll continue to monitor the situation,” he said.
Other recipients of the funding include Breakfast Clubs of Canada, managed by school districts and individual schools that will receive more than $10,000; Community Food Centres, such the one run by the Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government, which will receive $20,000; the Inuvik Food Bank that will receive $98,357 and the Quyallidauyuot Emergency Food Bank in Tuktoyaktuk that will get $17,890; Second Harvest organizations like the Food First Foundation that will receive $20,000, Food Rescue Yellowknife that will get $18,125 and SideDoor Ministries that will receive $20,000.