Holidays season sees bump in demand at Labrador food freezers

·2 min read
Community food freezers throughout Labrador are seeing an increase in demand.  (John Gaudi/CBC - image credit)
Community food freezers throughout Labrador are seeing an increase in demand. (John Gaudi/CBC - image credit)
John Gaudi/CBC
John Gaudi/CBC

The demand at Labrador community food freezers has gone up since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and, according to the the chairperson of the NunaKatiget Inuit Community Corporation, is growing again heading into the holidays.

Patricia Kemuksigak told CBC News the Max Winters Memorial Community Freezer in Happy Valley-Goose Bay can see about 200 families a month.

The freezer is packed with vegetables and traditional foods such as Arctic char and moose.

"We have to apply to different funding sources to keep food in our freezer. I'm hoping there will still be funds available through COVID or other sources so that we can continue," Kemuksigak said.

"There's more and more elders turning 60, and the demand has increased quite a lot."

Kemuksigak said the Happy Valley-Goose Bay freezer doesn't receive support from other organizations but she might look into working with the Community Food Sharing Association. Food prices are continuing to rise, she said, and many people are becoming more reliant on food programs.

Traditional foods

Lynn Blackwood, the Nunatsiavut government's food security program manager, said there's a variety of food programs throughout Nunatsiavut, including food freezers in five communities.

Blackwood said the demand for community freezers is high because of the traditional or "country food" being offered.

"People do not have access to country food like they once did. There's many barriers in the way of obtaining country food," she said.

"People may be working, they may not have transportation, they may not have Ski-Doos or boats or even the physical ability to go off and hunt and gather."

Blackwood and Kemuksigak agree access to traditional foods is important not only to stave off hunger but also for cultural reasons.

Blackwood said the food programming includes pairing youths with elders to pass on harvesting and hunting knowledge.

"We know in the definition of food security that culturally appropriate food is also part of it. It's not only access to food, but we want it to be culturally appropriate as well," she said.

"Sharing is a real important part of our culture, and we continue with that strong value today."

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