Canada might bring to mind snowy winter landscapes, maple syrup and friendly citizens who apologize for everything. Hunger, however, isn’t usually on the list.
But recent news indicates that perhaps it should be. Food insecurity in the country’s far north is becoming extremely common, in large part due to the price of food, which is shocking.
A small 500 mg box of pasta sells of over $11 in one grocery store in the mostly Inuit territory of Nunavut, and residents pay $26 for a jug of orange juice, and $8 for a head of cauliflower in others.
The result of this is that in the far North, away from the Canada/U.S border with its busy cities and economic prosperity, almost two-thirds of citizens under the age of 18 are living in homes that don’t have enough food. 7 in 10 preschool Inuit children live in food insecure households in Nunavut.
Why are things so expensive? Part of it is transportation. There are no roads or railroads leading up to many of the areas that need this food, making getting it there pretty flippin’ pricey.
Much of Canada’s far North is filled with remote villages that can only be accessed by boat or by plane.
According to a report on Global News.ca, other things driving up prices are the need for large, heated warehouses that can store vast amounts of food for a long time, (ie a year), hydro rates that can be up to 30 times higher than they are further south, higher salaries, and things like spoilage.
What’s being done to help?
Experts are calling on the Canadian government to formulate a national food strategy, to create new food policies, ensuring that no mouth or stomach gets left behind.
The situation is a crisis, they say.
Colleen Walton, a nutrition researcher at the University of PEI and a member of the Prince Edward Island food security network, explains.
“Parents, especially women, will protect their children, so when you have children living in food-insecure situations and experiencing hunger and poor-quality diets we know that the families are in dire, dire conditions,” Walton said to CBC.ca. “It’s all about money.”
Valerie Tarasuk, a professor in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto believes that the problem can be addressed and fixed. It’s possible, she feels, because the population in the affected areas actually isn’t that big. The federal government needs to step in with a plan, she feels.
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Other solutions involve supporting citizen-led initiatives like Feeding Nunavut, a not-for-profit website run by Taye Newman of Ontario, Canada. The site gathers money for food banks, soup kitchens and school meal programs in Canada’s north.
In the final analysis, Newman believes that the ultimate change will occur when Canadians wake up and petition the government for change.
Until that happens, readers can help spread the word on Twitter by posting with the hashtag #endthepricehike.
Check it out and learn more about how you can help make a difference and work towards change.
Photo credits: icemanj/Bigstock; Yastremska/Bigstock; 06photo/Bigstock