New partnership with Harvest Manitoba to help address food insecurity in northern Manitoba

A new partnership will make it easier to send food up north to First Nation communities in the Island Lake Region.

Harvest Manitoba, Anishininew Okimawin (Island Lake Tribal Council), and Food Banks Canada entered into an agreement Tuesday to have food sent up to St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Garden Hill and Red Sucker Lake.

Harvest Manitoba will work with the federal government’s Nutrition North Canada Program to assist with transportation costs and expand access to goods. This new agreement is all designed to help combat food insecurity in remote communities.

“We began this journey many years ago. We’d been sending food up north to rural remote locations for some time. But not consistently,” said Meaghan Erbus, the director of network advocacy and education for Harvest Manitoba. “It was intermittently, and now we’re able to do it more frequently. (With) this partnership with nutrition north as well as the Island Lake Council and others, we’re able to do that now in partnership with the community and understanding the unique needs.”

The four communities receiving the food will also now be able to have access to food banks in their areas.

Harvest Manitoba was the first registered food bank to join with Nutrition North Canada.

“The partnership between Harvest Manitoba and the Island Lake Tribal Council is a significant step forward for addressing food security in the Island Lake Region. While we know there is still much work to do be done to eradicate food insecurity, food banks now have access to subsidies to transport and distribute food to eligible communities and get food on the table for the most vulnerable residents and their families,” said Dan Vandal, the minister of Northern Affairs, in a news release.

Clarence Mason, the social development advisor for the Island Lake Tribal Council, said they are a resilient people but in times of need, they look to other communities for help.

“We are facing a crisis of food security in our region. High cost of food and transportation and supplies due to inflation are things that are not under our control. I applaud Harvest Manitoba, Food Banks Canada and Nutrition North Canada for partnering with us toward real solutions to permanently address food security in the spirit of reconciliation,” Mason said in a news release.

The new partnership is expected to support around 15,000 residents in the Island Lake Region.

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