Hunger in Northern Canada is more complex than the high cost of food. I recently read a report that explained a few of the lesser known reasons for food insecurity in Northern rural and remote communities in Canada.
- The effects of the residential school trauma, including the loss of community knowledge of traditional practices (including hunting, fishing, and trapping);
- High costs related to hunting/harvesting traditional foods;
- A decline in the number of people who have the knowledge, time and resources to harvest traditional foods;
- Changes in animal behavior and availability due to climate change;
- Widespread low income;
- A growing dependence on store-bought foods.
People who struggle to put food on the table are more likely to report poor health, long-term physical or mental disabilities that limited activity at home, work or school, chronic conditions, major depression. This same group of people also reports that they have a lack of social support. Almost 40% of food bank users are children, aside from malnourishment it is important to note that these same children also don’t feel socially supported, they go hungry, and don’t get to learn cooking skills at home because there is little to no food to cook.
A solution to food insecurity in the north is not moving south, a detailed report from Food Banks Canada explains the following five ideas and how we can resolve the northern food crisis here.
- Expansion and coordination of information on the cost of food in the north;
- Increasing our knowledge of the drivers of the high cost of food in the north;
- Increasing support for the consumption of traditional foods;
- Expanding and improving the Nutrition North Canada subsidy;
- Replacing social assistance with a basic income administered through the tax system.
Policy, compassion, understanding, assessment, and evaluation will all be crucial when it comes to implementing a plan for the people of our country who live in food insecure conditions.