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Ikurraq Food Bank still ready to help in Rankin Inlet

Like most operations, especially nonprofits, it’s going to be challenging times ahead for the Ikurraq Food Bank (Deacon’s Cupboard) and thrift store, as it strives to continue meeting the needs of the community while more and more shutters close to lessen the dangers of COVID-19 in Rankin Inlet.

The Ikurraq Food Bank has always enjoyed support from its community members. Here a group of Co-op members and employees are all smiles as Alex Sammurtok, front from left, and Noah Tiktak present a cheque for $2,824 on behalf of Kissarvik Co-op’s jersey day initiative to the Ikurraq Food Bank (Deacon’s Cupboard) in Rankin Inlet on April 5, 2019. The Co-op staff raised $912, which was matched by the Kissarvik Co-op, and $1,000 was donated by Arctic Co-operatives.
NNSL file photo

Ikurraq has been serving its community in one form or another for the past 23 years and is incorporated under the Societies Act of Nunavut.

Volunteer David Fredlund and his family have been overseeing the food bank for a number of years, supported by the dedication and hard work of a small group of volunteers in the community.

Fredlund said both the food bank and the thrift shop – which helps raise funds to purchase food for Ikurraq – are closed to the public right now.

He said the operation’s volunteers aren’t really interested in working face to face with anyone right now, due to the risks of COVID-19, and that has prompted Ikurraq to move in a different direction.

We’re actually doing more of a gift card approach right now to help meet the needs of the 25-to-30 families who we see regularly at the food bank,” said Fredlund. “The local Co-op (Kissarvik) has been gracious enough to help us with the gift cards and it’s looking like that’s how we’re going to do things for the next little while.”

Fredlund said Ikurraq wasn’t given directive from any level of government.

He said, basically, they’ve just been following what everybody else seems to be doing.

Poverty Reduction actually got a hold of me this past Thursday, March 26, to see where things are at with our food bank, so, hopefully, we’ll be able to figure something out because our service is vital to the community.

We’re actually concerned that our intake numbers may begin to grow at the food bank if things continue the way they are.

We look at a family to be consisting of four people – two adults and and two kids – and by that gauge we average helping 25 to 30 per month.

We stopped the face-to-face distribution of food on March 18 and started using the $100 per family gift card system for the first time on March 25 and, I should add, we’ve also been in contact with another government department that’s helped us in the past, so, for the next few weeks at least, we’re think we’re going to be able to meet the needs of those 25-to-30 families.”

Fredlund said the big concern is if those numbers grow in the next little while.

If there’s any substantial increase at all, he said they simply don’t have the capacity right now – volunteer-wise or financially – to do more than the 30 gift cards they distributed on March 25.

We received some funding at the end of the fiscal year that we’ve been able to use to address the situation as it is right now.

In the short term, we should be OK for the next couple of weeks, even if we have to take on five to 10 additional families and deliver actual food to them, but, beyond that point, I don’t know what it’s going to look like.

I think things are progressing the way they probably should in the North.

We haven’t had a single confirmed case (of COVID-19) here yet, so that says to me the steps that have been put in place are working.”