$6 soup, $7 canned tomatoes prompt food bank, school lunch program in Nain

People in Nain are taking steps to increase food security after a survey found nearly 80 per cent of households in the Inuit community have difficulty accessing food.

A survey found that nearly 80 per cent of homes in the Inuit community have trouble getting food

It's very expensive to shop for food in Nain, Labrador's northernmost community. (Submitted by Draper Hollett)

People in Nain are taking steps to increase food security after a survey found nearly 80 per cent of households in the Inuit community have difficulty accessing food.

"It's not uncommon for adults or even seniors to be missing meals in order to ensure their kids have the food they require," Kaila de Boer, the Nunatsiavut government's director of mental wellness and healing told CBC's Labrador Morning.

Along with Nunatsiavut staff and Nain's food security committee, she's helping roll out a pilot project called Healthy Lunch-2-Go — a two-month initiative providing K-12 students with a sandwich, granola bar and fruit at lunch hour.  

Community volunteers are also working to create Nain's first-ever food bank.

Healthy Lunch-2-Go

Nunatsiavut staff are making up 100 paper-bag lunches each day, which is enough to cover most of Nain's students.

"Given that we know how high the rates are of food insecurity, it's important that we have it as open to everybody as we can," said de Boer.

Volunteers fill brown-bag lunches for students in Nain. (Facebook)

The trial program is running during January and February because they're Nain's coldest months.

"We wanted to make sure that kids had a healthy meal and that it was hopefully going to cut down on extended walks home."

Food bank

Nain is the province's northernmost community. As such, food prices can be extremely high.

"You'll go to the store and you'll see a can of soup that's on sale for four dollars, five dollars, six dollars. A can of tomatoes, that's like seven dollars — It's really expensive," said resident Brenda Jararuse.

Brenda Jararuse is working to start a volunteer-run food bank in Nain. (Submitted)

She's trying to start a food bank, enlisting other locals to volunteer and help her.

There are some programs that subsidize the cost of produce and meat or provide free game but non-perishable items aren't included, according to Jarause.

Starting a food bank is something she's thought about doing since high school.

She's acting on it now after moving back to Nain and learning that 80 per cent of her community struggle with food security.

"I always knew there were hungry people in the community but I didn't know there was that many," she said.

Community freezers such as this one in Hopedale help supplement the food supply with game, but supplies do run out. (foodfirstnl.ca)

Her hope is that the airline servicing the north coast will help with discounted shipping rates in order to get canned and packaged foods to the coastal community at a cheaper rate.

She's found a group of volunteers willing to help organize and run things. Their first meeting to discuss fundraising and a location for the food bank is on Monday.

In Nain, a community where many people struggle to eat three meals a day, there's a new program to help students fuel up at lunch time. Healthy-Lunch -2-Go delivers brown bag lunches to school every morning -- and they're available to all students (00:58). Then, caribou numbers may be at a historic low, but according to the Nunatsiavut government the George River and Torngat herds are not endangered, and they don't want them listed as such (09:17). Plus, We often hear that Newfoundland and Labrador spends more on health care than any other province in the country, but where does the money go, and what do we get for our three billion dollars (18:45). 27:33

With files from Bailey White