The Ikurraq Food Bank is keeping up with demand in Rankin Inlet despite the challenges placed on it by the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent lockdown in Nunavut.
Ikurraq’s David Fredlund said much the same situation exists in Rankin as in Baker Lake, with the food bank not actually being open during the lockdown, but able to give out gift certificates under the current conditions.
He said Ikurraq did secure some additional funding from federal sources such as Food Banks Canada recently to help them do that and is still keeping its head above water.
“We’re not distributing food at the moment, nor is the second-hand thrift shop open because of the quarantine, of course,” said Fredlund.
“We’ve also received some funding and donations from the local stores here in the community. They contributed some gift cards and things like that which we’re using, as well.
“But the majority of what we’re receiving is coming from southern donations.”
Fredlund said the food bank has a regular clientele list of local residents who regularly come to the food bank.
He said Ikurraq is mainly basing what it distributes each week from that list.
“As much as we would like to, we simply can’t help everybody.
“So it’s the people who have been coming to the food bank regularly during the past six months who we’re distributing the cards to right now, and the amounts depend on the size of the family and the month that we’re actually giving the cards out in.
“It’s usually around $50 we give to an individual or a couple, $75 to a couple with one or two kids, while larger families get $100.”
Fredlund said Ikurraq will definitely be looking hard elsewhere for additional possible funding if the Covid situation, especially the current quarantine, lasts beyond Christmas.
He said the food bank is able, however, to meet the demand of those who are especially in need right now, at least until after the Christmas period.
“We’re hoping, of course, that things will brighten and we’ll be able to get back to distributing regular food items sometime during the next little while.
“But, currently, we’re doing relatively OK for meeting the needs of those who are most in need, and that’s what will remain our focus for now.”
Fredlund said Ikurraq tries to share the money it distributes among local stores as much as it can.
He said vouchers are directed to Rankin’s three main outlets, the Co-op, Northern store and Eskimo Point Lumber Supply.
“Every week that we distribute the gift cards, they’re usually put into the post office which delivers them from there.
“Generally speaking, we get them to the post office late Monday afternoon so people can get them on Tuesday or Wednesday.
“There haven’t been too many people particularly worried about how we’re doing at the moment.
“Actually, quite a few organizations that are helping provide food services — Agnico Eagle and the hamlet just had a food distribution drive here this past week — at the present time have lent a hand during this whole process to help the food bank to be able to keep on doing what we’re doing.
“So, currently, there haven’t been a lot of questions on whether we’re going to be able to sustain ourselves or anything like that because, I think, the community has been rallying together doing what it can to help.”
Fredland said doing vouchers or gift cards is considerably less time consuming than actually preparing food and getting it to those who need it.
However, he said, Ikurraq doesn’t actually track what people are consuming while using the voucher system.
“So we’re not exactly sure what that looks like at the moment, in regards to what people are actually buying at the stores with the gift cards.
“We’d prefer not to have to do it this way, but, for the moment, it is what it is due to Covid.”