Iqaluit Food Insecurity Working towards food security

The Niqinik Nuatsivik Nunavut Food Bank (NNNFB) was started in 2001 and it's goal is to help reduce hunger in Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, and it's surrounding areas. A year after NNNFB started, Iqaluit's consumer price index in December was 100. Thirteen years later, StatsCan reported a CPI of 120.8 .

According to Statistics Canada, the average price of 1 kg of oranges is $3.40. In Nunavut, it is almost three times that price. (

In 2013, 1kg of oranges was $6.16 in Iqaluit. Today, according to Zoya Martin, the chair of NNNFB, this box of oranges costs about $10, even though fresh foods are heavily subsidized by the government. The box is orange is just an example of the steady increase in food prices people in Iqaluit are seeing.

With the rise of food prices, Martin says the food bank has seen an increase in the number of people they serve. "We are serving more families," Martin says, "More families of six, seven, and up to 15. Now we're serving up to 550 people every two weeks. And about 50% of them are children."

The government is in talks about building an all season road to reduce transportation costs, but Martin says she is unsure of how much that will reduce food prices since Iqaluit is an Island. She says, "My experience is places that do tend to have roads, don't have the nicest produce."

Income is a big factor in the food insecurity issues people are facing, and the government for taking steps to address income issues, including mental health and substance abuse. In 2009 the Government of Nunavut started to prepare a poverty reduction plan in an effort to ensure that everyone had access to basic necessities, including food. Out of that plan came the Nunavut Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, The Makimaniq Plan: A Shared Approach to Poverty Reduction, and eventually the The Nunavut Food Security Coalition and the Nunavut Food Security Strategy. In 2014, the coalition released a strategy and action plan; one of the six themes in the plan is life skills. You can read more about it here.

Martin commends the government's work towards mitigating the problem of food insecurity. She says that the food bank is also working towards the same goal and having better price comparison will help, but that is hard because "unit pricing is not seen here." Martin says the food bank hopes to carry a more advocacy based role but since it is volunteer-run it is hard to put in all the time required.

"We want to help other food banks to get up and running... teach people how to cook, use leftovers, put flavours."- Zoya Martin.

Currently, there is very little media coverage on food insecurity issues in Nunavut. Martin says she hopes to see more news coverage, especially stories from people who face food insecurity.

"We need to hear from people who are using the food bank and those who are in in need. what is their perspective and what do they think needs to happen. they are very intelligent individuals."- Zoya Martin
Created By
Cynthia Boyede


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