The province will spend more than $1 million from their latest budget to partner with organizations in northern Manitoba that are working to reduce hunger and bring improvements to food security in the north.
In Budget 2022, which was released earlier this month by Manitoba’s PC government, the province said they have earmarked $1.3 million to partner with the Northern Manitoba Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI) on food security projects and community-led food initiatives in northern Manitoba.
“The Northern Healthy Foods Initiative works to assist in the development of programs driven by northern communities that develop resources, opportunities and education around local food systems,” Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere said in a release announcing the funding.
“Our government is committed to support local and regional activities that contribute to the development of culturally relevant and sustainable healthy food systems in the north.”
Food security projects and programming are already being delivered by several northern Manitoba community-based organizations that will now benefit from the new funding, including the Four Arrows Regional Health Authority, the Frontier School Division, Food Matters Manitoba, and the Northern Association of Community Councils. (NACC)
NACC executive director Linda Payeur said she believes the money will be put to good use, as she said there has been a large and growing need for food security programs in the north in the last few years, and since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of 2020.
“This past couple of years we have experienced a dramatic increase of demand for community-led initiatives related to food security and sovereignty,” Payeur said.
“The government of Manitoba’s ongoing support affords us the stability required to deliver on consistent, long-term food security projects.
The funds granted through this initiative have afforded NACC the ability to leverage additional funds from other sources, thereby the ability to address the increased demand for the NHFI program.
“We have dramatically increased the delivery of workshops and resources such as garden seeds, tools, etc. to the growing number of participants, and in turn, it also enhances community sharing of knowledge and experiences.”
The Frontier School Division’s (FSD)Grow North Program, which sees northern and Indigenous youth learn skills to plant and grow their own food, will also receive funding through the commitment for a program that FSD described as one that “develops the gardening skills of Indigenous youth in northern and remote communities.”
“The work in progress is a necessary endeavour for northern communities and the people,” FSD gardening coordinator Brian Trewin said.
“As one of the partners of NHFI, we hope to play a role in healthy foods, healthy bodies and healthy minds.”
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun