Ontario non-profit asks people to skip a meal for Nunavut

Feeding Nunavut, an Ontario-based non-profit organization, is asking people to skip a meal and donate the funds to help food banks and soup kitchens in the territory.

Directs donations to food banks and school breakfast programs

Meena Hoyt in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, posted this photo to the Facebook group Feeding my Family. Feeding Nunavut has already sent $5,400 in donations to the territory. (Meena Hoyt/Facebook)

Feeding Nunavut, an Ontario-based non-profit organization, is asking people to skip a meal and donate the funds to help food banks and soup kitchens in the territory.

"Basically it was started because we were surprised and shocked at the food insecurity stats coming out of Nunavut, specifically the child stats," said Taye Newman, the Oakville, Ont.-based founder of Feeding Nunavut.

Health surveys conducted in 16 Nunavut communities in 2007-08 showed that seven out of 10 households with a child between the ages of three and five were "food insecure." A 2014 report published by the Council of Canadian Academies based on data from the same survey said a quarter of Inuit preschoolers were severely food insecure and of that 25 per cent, 76 per cent skipped meals and 60 per cent had gone a day without eating.

"It's a shame that in Canada there's actually people that are hungry," said Newman.

"I realize that there's hungry people across Canada, not just Nunavut, but the stats in Nunavut are incredible. I think that every Canadian needs to start jumping up and down so that our government will actually do something to create long term change."

'I think that every Canadian needs to start jumping up and down so that our government will actually do something to create long term change,' said Taye Newman, Feeding Nunavut’s founder. (Feeding Nunavut)

Newman said she decided to use her online marketing and website development skills to create the group to support the efforts of Nunavut-based organizations such as Feeding My Family. She said being Ontario-based is also an asset because it sends a message to politicians that this is an issue that all Canadians care about.  

The group's most recent initiative is the Skip-a-Meal for Nunavut campaign.

"A lot of people have this sense that I only have $50 and that's not going to help, but even if you have $5 to $10, all those dollars add up," said Newman.

'Nunavut needs all the help we can get'

Feeding Nunavut was established last summer, to date they have raised over $5,400 in donations, which has gone to the Anniumapkainiq Food Bank in Gjoa Haven, the Taloyoak Food Bank in Taloyoak, the Tusarvik School meal program in Naujaat, the Sam Pudlat School breakfast program in Cape Dorset and a high school lunch program in Cape Dorset.

'I think Nunavut needs all the help we can get from anywhere really,' said Iqaluit’s Leesee Papatsie, founder of the group Feeding My Family. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

"We do our best to try to figure out which food banks have empty shelves and support those, which school programs are asking for emergency money for emergency snacks or caribou stew for students who go home to no lunch,' said Newman.

Iqaluit's Leesee Papatsie, the founder of the group Feeding My Family, is supportive of the Ontario group's work.

"I think Nunavut needs all the help we can get from anywhere really," said Papatsie.

"It's going to raise awareness. That's what we're all about, and that's how you bring change."  

Food banks in the North are in desperate need of donations, said Papatsie, particularly in light of the current rise in food prices.

"It's too bad that it has to come to this point where we're getting help from the South," she said.

"My hope is that eventually people will be able to afford food prices."  

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