What we heard about Nutrition North Canada

Summaries of community meetings for the Nutrition North Canada Engagement 2016 are posted here. These meetings are designed to seek input from community members and other stakeholders on how Nutrition North Canada (NNC) can be more transparent, cost-effective, and culturally appropriate in the face of growing demand for health food in the North.

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NNC themes

The following themes are discussed during the community meetings:

Community meetings summaries

Old Crow, YK community meeting on May 30, 2016

The first NNC community meeting took place in Old Crow, Yukon on May 30, 2016.

Participants

Approximately 25 residents from Old Crow participated at this community meeting. To protect the privacy of the participants, the names of individual participants are not disclosed.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Old Crow community meeting:

  • Subsidize more traditional and country foods, through the support of the materials needed to source these types of food, such as: hunting equipment, fuel, and fish nets.
  • Remove items with lower nutritional value such as ice cream/sherbet, frozen pizza and artificial sweeteners.
  • Give highest level subsidy for staple items such as flour, rice, barley, beans and macaroni.
  • Focus on specific foods for children and the elderly - consider additional or increased subsidies targeted to these types of products (e.g., milk, Ensure, etc.).
  • Shipping personal orders is complicated due to requirement to package level 1, level 2 and non-eligible items separately for weighing and then shipping.
  • Concerns raised as to whether the retailer and supplier are actually passing the subsidy through their systems, and on to consumers.
  • Need for more posters, notices, newsletters, and pamphlets to be distributed when new products are added to the Subsidy List and to provide more general information about the program. Information should be presented in a simplified manner, consider comic book style.
  • Need specific information on what is / is not eligible (e.g., juice cocktails).
  • Provide the subsidy directly to the consumer and not the retailer.
  • Support family-to-family sharing of country and traditional foods across communities and provincial/territorial borders.
  • Subsidize gardening products like vegetable seeds and seedlings and grain for poultry so people can grow their own food.

Ulukhaktok/Holman, NWT community meeting on May 31, 2016

The second NNC community meeting took place in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories on May 31, 2016.

Participants

Community residents/Elders, community corporation board Members, the mayor, Hunters & Trappers Association, and Hamlet Office/Senior Administrative Officer participated at this community meeting. To protect the privacy of the participants, the names of individual participants are not disclosed.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Ulukhaktok community meeting:

  • Subsidize access to traditional and country foods such as supplies to hunt, fish and trap these types of food, (e.g., hunting equipment, fuel, fish nets, tents, boats, stoves, shells, oil and gas).
  • Give highest level subsidy for staple items such as lard, flour, rice, berries, muskox, fish, and reindeer.
  • Criteria for subsidies across communities should be based on remoteness/distance, population size, and freight costs.
  • Mixed feedback across the community as to whether hotels/restaurants should be part of the program. Support only if they serve nutritious and not deep-fried food.
  • It is difficult for small, local stores to compete with large retailers due to their buying power and ability to negotiate premium freight contracts.
  • Concerns raised as to whether the retailer and supplier are actually passing the subsidy through their systems, and on to consumers.
  • Concerns raised regarding the quality of the food (e.g., spoilage, expiry dates) being sold, and when airlines ship food. Program should have a mechanism to assess quality of food being sold in stores.
  • Program is too complicated and not understood in the community.
  • Need for more program information to be provided through flyers/brochures, newsletters and community Facebook page.
  • Information should be provided in a simplified manner, and in the local dialect/language.
  • Need for education of the retail staff so that they can better educate the community about the program.
  • The NNC Advisory Board's profile should be more visible to the community, providing both oversight and advocacy for them.
  • Awareness should be raised regarding the Direct Personal Orders option.
  • Support smaller point-of-sale system for local suppliers to be able to sell subsidized country food (muskox, char and caribou).
  • Support family-to-family sharing of country and traditional foods across communities and regions.
  • Support the building of greenhouses, educational programs related to developing greenhouses (and canning for preservation), and the related materials needed (vegetable seeds/ seedlings, soil).
  • Need for a dedicated supplier for fresh produce (in Yellowknife), and a registered store in each Region for Direct Personal Orders.
  • Give program funding directly to communities.
  • Establish not-for-profit food depots in each community.
  • Provide funding for commercial country food processing equipment in each community.
  • Appreciation expressed for Health Canada's on-the-land programs targeted at children and youth.
  • See a continued need for the program, but would like lower consistent prices.

Rigolet, NL community meeting on June 20, 2016

The third NNC community meeting took place in Rigolet, Newfoundland and Labrador, on June 20, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Nunatsiavut Government Department of Health and Social Development, and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Rigolet community meeting:

  • Give the highest level of subsidy for staple items such as flour and butter.
  • Provide a higher subsidy for 'high convenience' nutritious foods, given that parents often have limited time to prepare meals.
  • Provide a higher subsidy for frozen vegetables and fruit so that community members do not have to rely on fresh produce, which is generally of poor quality.
  • The cost of food, with the subsidy applied, should be similar within a given region (e.g., Labrador).
  • The subsidy should not be means-based (i.e., based on income).
  • Maintain the eligibility of hotels and restaurants as they help promote local tourism.
  • Provide more evidence that the subsidy is being passed along to the consumer.
  • Include the amount of savings passed on from the subsidy on the store receipt.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the quality of the food (e.g., spoilage, expiry dates) being sold.
  • Distribute community-specific brochures containing easy-to-read information on the impact of Nutrition North Canada.
  • Effectively communicate the role of the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board.
  • Provide more information on what quality control measures are in place to ensure food safety.
  • Facilitate sharing of country and traditional foods across communities and regions.
  • Support community-based hunts by subsidizing hunting materials and/or freezer space.
  • Provide the subsidy directly to consumers.
  • Offer additional education initiatives to create awareness of the importance of healthy eating and to develop a better understanding of healthy food preparation.
  • Develop infrastructure (e.g., road, rail, longer air strip) to improve community access to food.

Kangiqsujuaq, QC community meeting on September 20, 2016

The fourth NNC community meeting took place in Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec, on September 20, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Mayor and Council, and retailers.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Kangiqsujuaq community meeting:

  • Subsidize traditional Inuit and First Nations foods.
  • Move tea and the ingredients for bannock (sugar, flour, lard and baking powder) to the highest subsidy level, as they are traditional Inuit foods.
  • Raise the subsidy for fresh fruit and vegetables in the winter because they are more expensive at that time of year.
  • Include more choices for individuals with dietary restrictions and allergies on the Food Eligibility List.
  • The former Food Mail program was preferred by some community members because it provided a subsidy for a larger list of items.
  • Concerns were raised that when food items such as French fries and macaroni are less expensive than healthier foods, families eat less nutritious food because of affordability, even though they would prefer to make healthy choices.
  • Concerns were raised that though the NNC program is reducing the price of groceries, food is still too expensive.
  • Continue to subsidize direct (personal) orders because they allow access to a wider variety of food items than what is available in community stores.
  • Maintain the NNC subsidy for restaurants, hotels and outfitters.
  • Try to provide a similar cost and availability of food across the region.
  • Continue to monitor the quality of fruit and vegetables, as spoilage is an ongoing issue.
  • Better communicate how the program works to community members. Consider using community-level representatives, radio, and communication materials in local Inuktitut dialects.
  • Better communicate how prices are set, such as why the same food item may have different price in two stores in the community if both are receiving the subsidy and passing it on fully to the consumer.
  • Research ways NNC could support country food, such as subsidizing hunting and harvesting supplies, creating partnerships with local hunters, and making country food available in retail stores.
  • Support for country food should consider the impact the quota on beluga whale hunting is having on the diet of Inuit.

Iqaluit, Nunavut community meeting on September 26, 2016

The fifth NNC community meeting took place in Iqaluit, Nunavut on September 26, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Mayor, members of the legislative assembly, Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Food Security Coalition and retailers. Program representatives also met with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated on September 30, 2016.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Iqaluit community meeting:

  • The subsidy on food items is not enough to help the most vulnerable. The NNC program is reducing the cost of groceries but food is still not affordable.
  • The Food Eligibility List does not consider what a northern family would eat and what northerners feel is healthy, nutritious food.
  • Increase the subsidy for baking goods (e.g., flour, oil, sugar) products for infants (e.g., formula, diapers) and add personal hygiene products (e.g., toothpaste, shampoo, tampons). Tailor the Food Eligibility List for each community; the food preferences in Iqaluit might be different for those in smaller communities so NNC should reflect those differences on a community-by-community basis.
  • Narrow the eligibility list in some areas. Program funding is diluted when it is used for products only the affluent can afford, such as tofu burgers and dragon fruit.
  • Expand the subsidy to the private sale and transportation of country food across the territory.
  • Expand the subsidy to food items transported on the sealift.
  • Publicize the profitability levels for the retailers to provide evidence that the subsidy is being passed on.
  • Track retailers transporting perishables to ensure products are delivered fresh.
  • Use signage in stores (‘at the aisles') to indicate how much consumers will save on products as a result of the subsidy, instead of waiting for their cashier's receipt. This will allow shoppers to make better informed purchases.
  • Provide Inuktitut-speaking Nutrition North liaisons for unilingual customers, as well as further funding for home economics classes at the high school level.
  • Communication products need to be provided in the appropriate Inuktitut dialect.
  • It is unclear what the ultimate objective of the NNC program is.
  • INAC should consider developing a new stand-alone program to support country food and focus the existing NNC program on store-bought foods.
  • Include a member from Nunavut on the NNC Advisory Board to ensure appropriate representation in the engagement process.
  • The NNC program should have regional employees instead of being run by southerners from Ottawa. An emphasis should also be placed on hiring Inuk employees.

Pond Inlet, Nunavut community meeting on September 28, 2016

The sixth NNC community meeting took place in Pond Inlet, Nunavut on September 28, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Mayor and Council, high school students and the local hunters and trappers organization.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what we heard at the Pond Inlet community meeting:

  • Give the highest subsidy level for staple items such as flour, butter, and cooking oils.
  • Additional necessities should be subsidized including feminine hygiene products, household items (e.g. laundry detergent, etc.) and baby supplies (e.g. diapers, formula, etc.), especially given the high birth rate in Nunavut.
  • The Food Mail program was considered by some to be better that the NNC program because it provided more choice to consumers in terms of what items were subsidized.
  • The subsidy should also apply to the sea lift.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the quality of the food, and the need for better management of food quality.
  • Need to give particular attention to vulnerable populations like youth who are going to school on an empty stomach and for low income families that cannot afford the high cost of food.
  • Need for more communication between the NNC program and suppliers, airlines, and retailers to establish fairness that results in more affordable food prices in the North.
  • People do not understand how the program works as it is too complicated.
  • The funding set-aside for NNC health education initiatives is not visible within the community.
  • The average person is not seeing a significant change in food costs as a result of the subsidy; food prices are still too expensive for most community members.
  • The NNC program should include more country foods, including supporting hunting and harvesting (e.g. subsidize foods commonly eaten on hunting trips, and supplies like fuel and bullets) as this way of life is becoming increasingly difficult.

Hopedale, Labrador community meeting on October 4, 2016

Participants

Community members.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Hopedale engagement session:

  • Greater subsidy levels should be provided on core items to help individuals on fixed incomes (e.g. seniors) and lower income families afford of nutritious foods, including meat, vegetables, fruit, milk, and "Boost" supplements.
  • Dry goods (e.g. flour) may not require a higher level of subsidy as they are typically heavier / bulkier items and can be purchased in bulk when cheaper transportation such as the sealift is available and then stored over the winter months.
  • Increase awareness of the option to make direct orders or personal orders from a registered Southern Supplier, as this could be used more widely.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the elimination of the provincial Air Foodlift subsidy and impacts on the high cost of food.
  • Food costs should be equalized across communities in Labrador.
  • Prices displayed in Labrador stores should identify the subsidy for given products for greater transparency directly to the consumer, as is done in NNC-eligible retailers in other regions.
  • Clarify how the health education funding works and who is responsible and accountable at a community-level.
  • Ensure the subsidy is being passed along to consumers.
  • Simplify the program so that people can better understand and use it.
  • Use locally relevant communications (e.g. local radio, local social media, community representation, signage) to inform community members more effectively.
  • Provide better support for traditional food, including funding for supplies to hunt and harvest (e.g. ammunition, fuel, equipment).

Lutsel K'e, NT community meeting on October 17, 2016

The eighth NNC community meeting took place in Lutsel K'e, NT on October 17, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Community leaders, and Councilors.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Lutsel K'e community meeting:

  • Subsidize flour at the highest level as it is currently very expensive and a key ingredient in traditional food
  • Review food eligibility list to ensure it reflects a northern diet, especially traditional foods
  • Continue to allow direct orders because they allow people a greater selection than offered in the community
  • Concerns raised that lower income residents cannot access direct orders and that direct orders provide profits to businesses outside of the community
  • Make the cost of food in isolated communities similar to larger communities in the same region
  • Continue to provide the subsidy to hotels, restaurants, and outfitters that support the local economy
  • Provide more paper information to communities to improve understanding of the program
  • There should be local representatives responsible for communication about the program
  • Communicate clearly what role the Advisory Board plays and what type of outreach and engagement activities they complete
  • Provide more choice to communities in their funding priorities such as allowing for hunter support programs and community gardens that create a longer term solution to address high food costs in the North

Fort Chipewyan, AB community meeting on October 18, 2016

The ninth NNC community meeting took place in Fort Chipewyan, AB on October 18, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Community leaders, Councilors, health workers and retailers.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Fort Chipewyan community meeting:

  • Subsidize child care items including formula, baby food, and diapers, as well as other goods that may be considered as necessities to avoid significant negative health impacts
  • Provide the highest subsidy for baking ingredients, especially flour, as well as baking powder and yeast because they are staples of a Northern diets
  • Concerns raised that isolated communities who did not use the Food Mail Program were only considered eligible 5 years after the program was implemented, excluding them from the subsidy
  • Review subsidy rates to ensure they accurately reflect the cost of freight to isolated northern communities
  • Work to equalize food costs across communities in using the subsidy
  • Increase monitoring to ensure the subsidy is passed on to consumers
  • Communicate more clearly with communities about how the subsidy works and how to use personal orders
  • Consider longer-term measures to address food security in isolated, northern communities such as supporting community-led programs such as hunting, harvesting, gardens, and warehouses
  • Encourage additional Southern suppliers to become registered
  • Implement a system to manage the quality of foods in order to avoid spoilage
  • Consider subsidizing fruit when it is in season in order to maximize the impact of the subsidy on prices
  • Nutrition education initiatives should target children and youth to support long term healthy eating

Fond du Lac, SK community meeting on October 19, 2016

The tenth NNC engagement session took place in Fond du Lac on October 19, 2016.

Participants

Community members and leaders.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Fond du Lac engagement session:

  • Review the food eligibility list to assess its impact on healthy eating decisions.
  • Consider tailoring food eligibility list to community or region.
  • Subsidize flour at the highest level because it is used in the preparation of traditional Northern foods.
  • Calculate subsidy rates to account for community's degree of isolation as well as a number of other conditions such as the cost-of-living and median income .
  • Improve monitoring to ensure subsidy is ultimately being passed along to consumers.
  • Better communicate how the program works to communities, including more information on personal orders.
  • Use local social media channels to collect and share information about the program, as well as in-store advertisements.
  • Begin a regular review of the subsidy levels, particularly for new communities, and consider raising the subsidy to account for increases in the cost of freight and cost of living.
  • Fund community-sponsored hunts and gardens, including supplies and infrastructure.

Wollaston Lake, SK community meeting on October 20, 2016

The eleventh NNC community meeting took place in Wollaston Lake, SK on October 20, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Community leaders, Councilors, and retailers.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Wollaston Lake community meeting:

  • Encourage traditional food consumption by supporting traditional hunting and harvesting while taking measures to ensure environmental sustainability.
  • Provide a higher subsidy on baking supplies such as flour.
  • Subsidy rates should be calculated in relation to the median income and cost of living, as well as freight costs and isolation.
  • Consider ways that the program can benefit local economies and cost of living.
  • Better communicate how the subsidy is applied and passed on to consumers in order to build trust and an understanding of the program.
  • Produce communication products such as videos in appropriate indigenous languages to provide information on the program.
  • Improve relationships with community leadership and local health staff so they are more comfortable providing direct feedback and insight about the program.
  • Focus on nutrition education initiatives and share best practices and lessons learned amongst communities.
  • Support food security infrastructure projects, including warehouse space and freezers, as well as updating buildings (e.g. installing electrical outlets) for nutrition education initiatives.

Wekweèti, NWT community meeting on November 2, 2016

The twelfth NNC community meeting took place in Wekweèti, NWT on November 2, 2016.

Participants

Community members and leaders.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Wekweèti community meeting:

  • Ensure that the cost of nutritious foods, including meat, vegetables and fruit, becomes more affordable so that families can make healthier purchasing decisions.
  • Give flour and butter a higher subsidy level since they are staples in many family homes and are particularly important for country food preparation.
  • Add rice to the eligibility list.
  • Provide clearer information to communities about direct/personal orders.
  • Concerns raised that requests for certain nutritious foods (e.g. 100% wholegrain bread) have been denied by the retailer due to the higher costs of these products.
  • Concerns raised about spoiled food available for purchase at store.
  • Conduct more direct, in-person consultation with the community to help educate residents on food costs and how the program could help make nutritious foods more affordable.
  • Residents expressed interest in learning more about nutrition, particularly, shopping for and cooking with nutritious foods.
  • Program could assist community in starting a community garden.
  • Provide information to newly eligible communities about the program via radio, local websites and social media, and posters.

Kugaaruk, Nunavut, community meeting on November 3, 2016

The thirteenth NNC community meeting took place in Kugaaruk, NU on November 3, 2016.

Participants

Community members and leaders.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Kugaaruk community meeting:

  • Subsidize flour at the higher subsidy level because it is a staple ingredient in cooking country foods.
  • Subsidize dried beans, peas, and lentils; do not subsidize sweetened cereals.
  • Subsidize family necessities including diapers, wipes, children's clothing and infant formula given the high birth rate in Nunavut.
  • Ensure that Nutrition North's subsidy complements other government initiatives and priorities.
  • Consider ways of improving food variety and availability in stores.
  • Concerns raised that food can be spoiled before it arrives at the store since it may not be shipped to the community in a timely fashion.
  • Considering making regional adjustments to the program to reflect each community's differing needs.
  • Make the subsidy visible to the consumer in grocery stores and on individual products.
  • Increase oversight of stores and air carriers to improve consistency and transparency.
  • Increase benefits to vulnerable populations, such as low income families that cannot afford food.
  • Simplify program information (e.g. in-store signage, posters, radio announcements) and provide it in both English and local dialect
  • Need for farther-reaching nutrition education initiatives through direct in-person engagement with the community.
  • Provide child-care during nutrition education initiatives so parents and children can more easily attend.
  • Promote access to country foods by supporting local hunting and harvesting through subsidies for supplies (e.g. ammunition, fuel, and equipment) and making it available to consumers in local stores.
  • Consider applying the subsidy directly to consumers.

St. Theresa Point, MB community meeting on November 15, 2016

The fourteenth NNC community meeting took place in St. Theresa Point, MB on November 15, 2016.

Participants

Community members, Community leaders, Councilors, health workers and retailers.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the St. Theresa Point community meeting:

  • NNC has had a good impact on prices, but would like prices to be lower still
  • Subsidize flour at the higher subsidy level as bannock is a main source of food, or require retailers to have enough storage space to store flour brought in by road for the remainder of the year.
  • Raise, or have subsidies on necessities such as milk, eggs, meat (steak, ground beef, roasts, poultry), potatoes, baby formula, coffee, tea, ice teas, kraft dinner, weiners, rice, pilot biscuits, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, celery, asparagus, mushrooms, peas, bread, margarine, cooking oil, as well as, non-food goods such as child-care items (e.g., diapers), personal and household hygiene items (e.g., toothpaste, toilet paper).
  • Remove speciality products such as buttermilk, vegetarian products, and soy beverages from the subsidy list.
  • Remove fish from the subsidy list, as St. Theresa Point is a fishing community, residents would prefer not to spend the subsidy on fish
  • Encourage suppliers in the region to register as Southern Suppliers.
  • Different subsidy for those on income assistance and/ or with health concerns (e.g. diabetes).
  • Consider additional costs to get food to community (geographic factors within the communities) such as airport location (e.g. on an island, barge requirements, size of airstrip), when setting the subsidy levels.
  • Improve in-store signage such as large posters of the eligibility list, flash screens, as well as signs on store shelves to enable the community to better understand the subsidy.
  • Increase nutrition education initiatives with retailers help, and promote traditional food strategies to encourage people to eat better quality foods.
  • Increase use of radio, as this is the best way to reach out to people across the North, in addition use Facebook, focus groups and more community visits.
  • Support community food sustainability initiatives, such as chicken farms and community gardens so food does not need to be flown in.
  • Support traditional practices, such as hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering (includes for traditional medicine) – subsidize nets, bullets, snares, ice chisels, augers, camping equipment, gas, and ammunition; support community freezer and smoke house; help with access to licences and fire arms certificate.
  • Hire a hunter to fill the community freezer.
  • Subsidize airlines instead of retailers to help reduce all costs, including airfare.
  • Include community members in efforts to educate people about the program, with "community champions" to do a more in-depth door to door survey, sharing information on how the program works as well as providing an avenue for the community to provide feedback.
  • Legislate the price of infant formula.

Inukjuak, QC community meeting on November 21, 2016

The fifteenth NNC community meeting took place in Inukjuak, QC on November 21, 2016.

Participants

Community members, community leaders, councilors, and health workers.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Inukjuak community meeting:

  • Concerns raised that even with the subsidy, the cost of food remains very high and it is difficult for people to feed their families.
  • Subsidize flour and lard at the higher subsidy level as it is very expensive and is needed for making bannock.
  • Subsidize country food purchased from hunters by the Hunter Support Program and given to those in need.
  • Support should be given for fishing/hunting supplies (ammunition, gasoline, etc) and equipment (snowmobiles, boats, tents etc).
  • Direct orders should be permitted.
  • Discontinue the subsidy for outfitters as they only serve southerners and do not contribute to the local economy, as well as hotels that only serve food for visitors.
  • Continue the subsidy for restaurants.
  • Continue to ensure that retailers print subsidy amounts on receipts, as this makes subsidy amounts visible to the community.
  • Consider publishing price surveys for both of the retailers in the community to show which retailer has better prices.
  • Increase efforts to communicate how the program works as is not well understood in the community.
  • Communicate program information through media that is relevant in the community, such as Nunatsiaq News.
  • Consider tax breaks for hunters, such as eliminating tax on hunting and fishing supplies and equipment.

Big Trout Lake, ON community meeting on November 29, 2016

On November 29, 2016 a community meeting was held in Big Trout Lake, ON.

Summary of who participated

Community members, Community leaders, Councilors, health workers and retailers.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Big Trout Lake community meeting:

  • Subsidize healthier alternatives like whole wheat pasta and rice rather than processed foods.
  • Subsidize milk alternatives like soy milk to accommodate people who are lactose intolerant.
  • Increase the subsidy on commonly used cooking ingredients particularly for traditional food such as butter, lard, and flour, as well as infant formula
  • Increase the higher subsidy level for nutritious foods.
  • Remove margarine and other refined foods from the subsidized food list, as these foods appear to be healthy but can be full of sugar and salt.
  • Continue to subsidize orange juice.
  • Subsidize Gatorade.
  • Simplify food labeling to make it easy to understand what is healthy and what is not.
  • Place a sticker with the real price, the subsidy, and the final price on each product.
  • Work with retailers and suppliers to make available and subsidize organic vegetables, grass fed beef, pork, and free range chickens.
  • Change the program to keep money within the local economy as opposed to completing Personal Orders, or create focus on large orders to enhance buying power.
  • Support the creation of a regional distribution centre.
  • Consider whether food prices can be equalized in the same way that alcohol prices are, example of Toronto and Moosonee.
  • Push to register larger southern suppliers to provide increased selection and competition.
  • Allow hotels, restaurants, and outfitters to access the subsidy as they are contributing to the local economy.
  • Work to increase public awareness of the program awareness and public trust that the subsidy is being passed along to consumers.
  • Increase understanding of how the program works, including how subsidy levels are determined.
  • Mandate that all stores, including supporting independent retailers, demonstrate the savings as a result of the subsidy in-store and on receipts.
  • Provide information about the program by placing posters and advertisements in stores, opening a toll-free phone number, and promoting the program through radio advertisements.
  • Do not translate program information into French, as it is not relevant in many communities, instead translate into Indigenous languages.
  • Work with a local representative within each community to provide information and collect feedback.
  • Include more nutrition education initiatives for people who require specialized diets, such as people with diabetes, and encourage nutrition education initiatives in schools.
  • Fund local hunting, trapping, and gathering activities, and provide a way that would allow for the inspection of country food at a regional-level to allow for approved food sharing and selling.
  • Look for ways to incorporate local foods into restaurants and food programs for elders
  • Encourage suppliers to package food bound for the north more appropriately, such as shrink-wrapping, in order to help avoid spoilage.

Baker Lake, NU community meetings on December 9, 2016

On December 9, 2016 there was a meeting with key stakeholders in Baker Lake, NU over teleconference. On January 10, 2017 a community meeting was held in Baker Lake.

Participants

Community wellness coordinator, Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, mayor and council, member of legislative assembly, and community members.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard:

  • Appreciation expressed that food costs would be much higher without Nutrition North Canada. In particular, community members appreciated that milk prices have decreased since implementation of the program from $14 to $5 for 2L of 2% milk.
  • Appreciation expressed that Nutrition North Canada is an improvement over the Food Mail Program, and that spoilage of grocery store products has decreased over time.
  • Satisfaction expressed that the Nutrition North Canada subsidy is provided in local stores, and therefore available to all community members.
  • Incentivize whole-wheat products, particularly flour, by providing them with the level 1 subsidy and naming them on the food eligibility list.
  • Subsidize formula at a higher level because women may not be able to breast feed.
  • Subsidize diapers, baby food, sugar, and lard at level 1.
  • Subsidize canned foods and specialty foods (gluten-free, diabetic products, lactose-free products).
  • Consider subsidizing all food.
  • Eliminate processed foods (e.g. cheese) and/or unhealthy foods (e.g. bacon) from the subsidy list due to the poor nutritional value.
  • Subsidize all juices, included unsweetened ones, at the level 2 subsidy.
  • Provide the level 1 subsidy for large containers of juice, and eliminate individually packaged food, such as juice boxes, from the subsidy list. Concern expressed about the waste created by individualized packages.
  • Concern expressed that country/traditional food provided in stores is very expensive. Community members expressed doubt that it is actually subsidized.
  • Support the accessibility and affordability of country food by: subsidizing harvesting equipment and supplies, supporting community freezers, supporting local processing plants, providing a subsidy to ship country/traditional food between communities, and/or matching funding provided by the Nunavut Government for annual community hunts.
  • Communications of program could be community driven. A point-of-contact in the community could be selected to provide information and help people benefit from the program.
  • Educate community members on what products are subsidized and what products are healthy through radio, Facebook, and in-community meetings available in the local language.
  • In order to ensure low-income community members know how to use the subsidy, provide information about the program at the income support office.
  • Provide in-store posters of the food eligibility list that are larger and have more images, and provide clear labels on grocery store products to indicate which items are subsidized.
  • Showing subsidy savings on store receipts is appreciated, as community members can see what is subsidized. It has been a helpful teaching aide for the program.
  • Use simpler language in communications products. For example, the word "subsidy" is not known by many community members.
  • Increase communication on the role of the Advisory Board and how to access them.
  • Continue to include hotels, restaurants, and outfitters in the program if they contribute to the local economy (e.g. job creation).
  • Concern expressed that direct orders are too expensive for community members to use.
  • Register more southern suppliers and make it easier for southern suppliers to register in order to increase choices for making direct orders.
  • Increase communication to community members on the list of southern suppliers available and how to complete direct orders.
  • Address barriers to completing direct orders, such as credit card requirement, need for surplus income, and technological "know how".
  • Concern expressed that the air carrier serving Baker Lake actively disincentives direct orders by driving up freight rates, because handling them is burdensome for the company. Community members complained that orders often arrive weeks or months late, resulting in spoilage and wasted subsidy dollars.
  • Suspicion expressed that Northwest Company and Arctic Co-op are dishonest about the cost of freight and about passing on the subsidy.
  • Increase monitoring mechanisms to ensure the subsidy is being passed on.
  • Consider applying subsidy to food sold, rather than food shipped to ensure subsidy dollars don't go towards food not sold.
  • Require grocery stores to provide a wider range of brands. Concern expressed that stores push their own brands that may be lower in quality.
  • Concern expressed that if a carbon tax is implemented, that food prices will increase dramatically, and called on the program to adjust subsidy rates in this circumstance.
  • Concern expressed that milk in Rankin Inlet is much more expensive than Baker Lake, despite similar transportation routes.
  • Better communicate how nutrition education initiative funding is distributed and accessed, including what programs are funded through the NNC program.
  • Provide more funding for nutrition education initiatives, and teach home economics (budgeting, comparing prices), harvesting, cooking, and healthy eating.
  • Include nutrition and food access issues as a part of school curriculums, including special presentations and partnerships.
  • Seek community-based partnership and partnerships with provincial and territorial governments to increase the impact of the program.
  • Return to Baker Lake to notify the Mayor and Council of changes to the program, and validate that the changes are right.

Fort Hope, ON community meetings on November 29, 2016

On November 29, 2016 there was a meeting with key stakeholders and community leadership in Fort Hope, ON. However, due to weather conditions, the team was unable to hold a public meeting. A follow-up call was held on December 7, 2016 and a public meeting was held in Fort Hope on January 24, 2017.

Participants

Chief and council, health director, Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative worker, Ontario Works representative, councilors, and community members.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard:

  • Fort Hope's winter road is only available 6 weeks a year.
  • Subsidize baking ingredients such as flour, lard, butter, white sugar, cane sugar, and cooking oils at level 1. Some community members expressed that cooking oils and margarine should not be subsidized due to poor nutritional value.
  • Subsidize healthy sugar alternatives, such as honey and maple syrup.
  • Provide a higher subsidy for meat and alternatives, wild rice, dried beans, and grains.
  • Provide a higher subsidy for whole turkeys, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Support access to traditional food by subsidizing the cost of transportation, fuel, and supplies, including pilot biscuits.
  • Consider allowing each community or region to select a group of staple items to receive a "super subsidy".
  • Subsidize shipping of moose, rabbit, wild game, and wild rice harvested on community harvesting trips.
  • Consider subsidizing gasoline to support hunting, as wild food is not sold in stores.
  • Community members expressed that the current subsidy for country/traditional foods is unfair because it is only available in Nunavut.
  • Provide supplies for local programs such as community freezers and gardens.
  • Review subsidy rates to ensure they are feasible for the community.
  • The subsidy should be based on the distance required for food to be shipped from a major shipping centre, the community's latitude and longitude, the difficulty of getting to the destination, and the associated airline freight rates.
  • Direct orders should be permitted, as community members use them and they provide more choice.
  • Continue to make the subsidy accessible to all people, not just those living on lower incomes.
  • Concern expressed that direct orders with registered southern suppliers are sometimes more expensive than purchasing at the local store.
  • Increase the number of southern registered suppliers. In particular, consider adding Wal-Mart as a southern registered supplier, as they are the cheapest way to order food from the South.
  • Make direct orders accessible to people without credit cards.
  • Subsidize restaurants, hotels, and outfitters if they are locally owned.
  • Streamline the claims process as it is too onerous for locally-owned stores to take part in the program.
  • Provide education to local and independent stores on how the program works and how to benefit from it.
  • More clearly communicate how community members are benefitting from the subsidy and how the subsidy is applied.
  • Increase communications over Facebook, radio, and the community cable station. Consider door-to-door communication, and provide more information to communities recently added to the program.
  • Provide community members with ongoing opportunities to provide feedback into the program through in-community meetings, presentations aired on local radio, in-store surveys, and comment boxes.
  • Provide regional representation on the NNC Advisory Board. Representatives in each eligible community that can gather suggestions and information to support the Advisory Board.
  • Email the food eligibility list to local leadership so that they can share it with community members.
  • Provide Nutrition North Canada labels on subsidized items at the grocery store.
  • Review and adjust the eligible food list to clarify which items are subsidized (e.g. Oats are hidden under "Cook-type cereals").
  • Concern expressed that prices have not dropped since Nutrition North Canada was implemented in Fort Hope in October 2016, and that retailers may not be passing the subsidy to consumers.
  • Concern expressed that the local store cannot stock-up on non-perishable items due to a lack of warehouse space, thus driving up prices on non-perishable (and non-subsidized) items that need to be flown in throughout the year.
  • Interest expressed in establishing an alternate store model, such as band-run or government-run stores.
  • Consider allocating a percentage of the Nutrition North Canada budget to investment in long-term projects and community based-initiatives (e.g. community gardens, seeds, tools), rather than market food.
  • Provide more education to local youth on the disadvantages of eating pop and chips, and consider conducting a "Drop the Pop" challenge.
  • Explore partnership opportunities to find more ways to provide food to the North.
  • Subsidize airlines through fuel subsidies in order to lower all costs.

Fort Albany, ON community meetings on January 26, 2017

On January 26, 2017 community meetings were held in Fort Albany, ON.

Participants

Chief and Council, Health workers, Economic Development worker, and community members

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard:

  • Subsidize house hold items (e.g. toilet paper, laundry soap).
  • Subsidize canned items, as it is the only way people on a fixed income can afford fruits and vegetables.
  • Subsidize flour and cooking oil at level 1.
  • Support country/traditional food by providing funding in addition to current budget to subsidize ammunition, gas, and snowmobiles.
  • Reach out to southern suppliers to increase suppliers that serve the area.
  • Add Wal-Mart as a registered southern supplier, as it provides the lowest prices despite not having the subsidy.
  • Regulate grocery store profit margins on both subsidized and non-subsidized items, in order to ensure that prices of non-subsidized items aren't increased to make up for lower profits on subsidized items.
  • Continue to provide subsidy equally to all community members.
  • Continue to subsidize restaurants, as they mostly serve locals and this may encourage healthy menu items.
  • Do not subsidize hotels or outfitters, as they mostly serve Southerners.
  • Provide better labels on subsidized products at the grocery store.
  • Increase communication through Facebook and community posters.
  • Provide a newsletter distributed at grocery stores to communicate more detailed information.
  • Conduct paper surveys to gather opinions from community members, to save money on in-person visits.
  • Consider applying a sugar tax to disincentive pop.
  • Appreciation expressed that the subsidy is now shown on receipts.
  • Concerns that the subsidy is a ""Band-Aid" solution and does not address reasons behind high food costs, such as transportation infrastructure and storage space.
  • Consider subsiding food shipped on all modes of transport.
  • Simplify claims processing process to make the subsidy more accessible to small grocers and non-profit organizations.
  • Consider replacing the subsidy with an allowance for each adult and child to give people more choice in what they purchase.
  • Provide a list online of the Nutrition Education Initiatives provided in each community.
  • Provide profit margins and cargo rates of major northern retailers.
  • Make program communications more responsive to national criticisms.
  • Clarify the objective of the program and what can be accomplished with the programs budget.
  • Advocate for movement on food security policy outside of program jurisdiction.
  • Support alternative methods of bringing healthy foods to communities, such as community partnerships with non-profits in the South that work on food access.
  • Increase program budget in order increase the number of items on the list, rather than "giving and taking" on items.
  • Interest expressed in establishing an alternate grocery store model, such as band-run or government-run stores.
  • Concern that the subsidy does not make food cheap enough for people on social assistance to afford perishable foods.

Other stakeholder meetings

Postville, Labrador, key stakeholder meeting on October 5, 2016

On October 5, 2016, there was a meeting with key stakeholders and community leadership in Postville, Labrador. Here is a brief summary of what was heard:

  • Provide a higher subsidy for infant formula.
  • Apply subsidy from foods like sherbet and frozen yoghurt to vegetables instead.
  • Subsidy is necessary because seniors are unable to hunt and depend on groceries.
  • Investigate whether fish plants in Nain and Makkovik are eligible for the subsidy as country food suppliers.
  • Reimburse hunters for fuel and ammunition when they donate meat to a community freezer.
  • Support sharing of country food and firewood between communities by subsidizing shipping costs.
  • Permit direct orders because they provide additional options in communities with only one grocery store.
  • Increase awareness of NNC and advertise the program in smaller grocers that receive the subsidy through suppliers.
  • Ask all retailers to show the subsidy on receipts.
  • Increase awareness that direct orders are an option.

Nain, Labrador, key stakeholder meeting on October 5, 2016

On October 5, 2016, there was a meeting with key stakeholders and community leadership in Nain, Labrador. Here is a brief summary of what was heard:

  • Subsidize flour because it is a staple and is used to make bread that is more sustainable than store-bought bread.
  • Investigate whether fish plants in Nain and Makkovik are eligible for the subsidy as country food suppliers.
  • Support sharing of country food between communities by subsidizing shipping costs.
  • Direct orders are used by people from various income brackets and should be permitted.
  • Allow restaurants to receive the subsidy because community members use them as a gathering place.
  • Do not allow hotels and to receive the subsidy because they mainly serve tourists.
  • Increase awareness of NNC and advertise the program in smaller grocers that receive the subsidy through suppliers.

Black Tickle, Labrador, key stakeholder meeting on October 6, 2016

On October 6, 2016, there was a meeting with key stakeholders and community leadership in Postville, Labrador. Here is a brief summary of what was heard:

  • Increase awareness of NNC and advertise the program in smaller grocers that receive the subsidy through suppliers.
  • Ask all retailers to show the subsidy on receipts.
  • Distribute a poster with a list of staple items subsidized and price differences before and after the subsidy.
  • Retailers find it challenging to purchase fresh produce because it can only be ordered in large cases, and the small population cannot use all of the food before it spoils.
  • Food delivered by air is sometimes spoiled when it arrives.

Oxford House, MB, key stakeholder meeting on December 8, 2016

On December 8, 2016 there was a meeting with key stakeholders and community leadership in Oxford House, Manitoba over teleconference. Three attempts to visit the community made on November 14, December 1, and January 12 were unsuccessful due to weather.

Participants

Council, Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative worker, and northern store manager.

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard:

  • 2 litres of 2% milk costs $4.00.
  • Continue to subsidize personal orders as they provide more variety than the local store. Most order meat through personal orders as it is very expensive in the local store.
  • Give the most perishable fruits (e.g. grapes) and vegetables (e.g. peppers) an even higher subsidy.
  • Subsidize natural artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, to encourage healthy eating.
  • Subsidize canned items, such as fruit, vegetables, and soup.
  • Subsidize items intended to be shipped by winter road. This includes household items, such as diapers, toiletries, and household cleaning items, as well as flour, pasta, powdered potatoes and rice because they are heavily purchased and consumed and contribute to a sense of fullness.
  • Subsidize food for elders with special diets, such as meal replacements (e.g., Equal).
  • Keep a larger eligible food item list to allow more choices.
  • Subsidy amounts should be based on the distance from the major shipping centre, isolation (weather is a big factor that prevents planes from coming in), the population, and the freight rates being charged.
  • Suppliers need to better communicate to community members the actual final cost of shipped goods, including freight, shipping and handling fees; as well as what items are included in the NNC Program.
  • Better communicate how the subsidy levels are set, what is being subsidized, and how the program works.
  • Stores should post eligible items, subsidy amounts, shelf toppers.
  • Store staff should be knowledgeable and answer questions about the program, such as which items are subsidized.
  • Appreciation for Nutrition Education Initiatives. Suggested activities included a community cook-out in the summer, cooking lessons, and information sessions on healthy eating in order to help combat diabetes.
  • Assign a community representative(s), like the ADI worker or the administrator of the social assistance program, or have a Community Advisory Committee, to create awareness and educate people on eating healthier foods.
  • Use flyers and local radio station to create awareness of the program and its options.
  • Provide a booklet with community specific information on how the subsidy is being spent to allow community to look at trends.
  • Support community greenhouses, including supplies (e.g. seeds, seed potatoes).
  • Air carriers should have a service standard on delivering perishables ordered from a southern supplier in a reasonable timeframe (e.g., 72 hours).
  • Continue to support in-community organizations so they can afford to educate community members on how to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • Consider programs for vulnerable populations, including elders, youth, and those on social assistance, to help them shop and live a healthy lifestyle on a fixed income
  • Support for hunting (e.g. equipment, supplies, etc.) is needed.
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