THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), Quality Market and True North Community Co-Operative have announced a collaborative working relationship to bring wholesome, fresh foods to NAN First Nations. The collaboration is supported by Nutrition North Canada through Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada.
“Often, it becomes a challenge to access essential foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables within NAN communities due to the remoteness and the high cost of transportation, therefore is difficult to maintain a proper balanced diet, leading to health risks,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. “We welcome this collaboration, and look forward to the positive impacts it will have on the health and well-being of our First Nations involved, and hope to eventually expand this initiative to include all of NAN’s remote communities.”
“The Quality Market family is very excited to be part of this collaboration. We look forward to seeing the positive effects this will have in NAN communities and are thrilled to be part of a paradigm shift that could see significant improvements to health in NAN,” said David Stezenko, Co-owner – Quality Market.
“True North Community Co-Operative is very pleased to be actively involved in this initiative. It’s a great opportunity to not only increase the consumption of nutritious foods for residents in the North, but to also create greater market access for local farmers and forest food producers. We expect this initiative to continue to expand and we will be there for every step of the way,” said Joseph LeBlanc, Chair – True North Community Co-Operative.
Over 12 weeks, beginning this summer, 26 Co-Operative Community Supported Agriculture (CCSA) boxes will be sent by air and road to 7 remote NAN First Nations who have qualified for the full subsidy under Nutrition North Canada. Those communities are: Attawapiskat, Bearskin Lake, Fort Albany, Fort Severn, Muskrat Dam, Peawanuck, and Kashechewan. Another 7 NAN communities are covered under partial subsidy through on-site, telephone, or internet orders.
A grant received by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has provided the funding to purchase some of the food for the CCSA boxes. Additional foods will be added and sold at the same price as what customers are paying in Thunder Bay, and First Nations are additionally responsible for paying the shipping costs.
The initiative was tested on a pilot basis in February 2011. Food boxes containing items such as: locally produced whole wheat/rye flour, barley pancake mix, bran muffin mix, whole wheat pizza dough, oats, natural cheese, local honey, herbal teas, and local naturally-raised beef along with fruits, vegetables, rice and beans were sent to 12 NAN First Nations.
Prices in many Northern communities are far higher than in southern communities. That makes getting wholesome food far more difficult.
In one community the new program put in place has seen some prices drop. A 4 L bag of Milk has dropped from $13.99 down to $10.49 in one community along James Bay. Prices in the far North for fresh chicken, meat, fruit and vegetables are all very high. As you can see, chicken thighs are $14.59 per kilogram. A three pound bag of apples is $16.49.