Food security advocates aim to help First Nation communities
Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek, or the Gull Bay First Nation in northwestern Ontario, has neither a grocery store nor a food bank for its people.
The community, home to over 300 members who live on-reserve, is located almost 200 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.
To get their groceries, folks living on the First Nation either travel four hours south to Thunder Bay or trek 75 kilometres north to Armstrong.
"Food is an issue for the community in general," said Maureen Brophy, program manager with the Ontario Trillium Foundation in Thunder Bay.
Recently, Brophy travelled with Volker Kromm, executive director of the Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA) to Kiashke Zaaging.
The RFDA delivered almost 1600 kilograms of food using a refrigerated truck. While there, it set up a temporary food bank in the community's nursing station.
This food delivery was only a temporary measure, but Brophy said the hope is to create a food centre for communities such as KiashkeZaaging.
"It's a place to provide education," she said. "It's social in that people come together and learn about food preparation, preserving, canning, community cooking classes...[to] really help build the capacity of the community in terms of their food security."
Brophy said funds are available though the Ontario Trillium Foundation to establish a community kitchen-style facility through the funding organization's Food Strategy and Security program. The foundation has already funded community kitchens and green houses in other First Nations.
The Regional Food Distribution Association is planning a visit to Mishkeegogamang First Nation, located about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay and Brophy said the Trillium Foundation would also be interested in visiting the community.