Volunteers led by Vicki Tanuyak were able to help the Elders in their community with items from a newly-started food bank this past week in Chesterfield Inlet.

Elders Andre and Elizabeth Tautu are all smiles after receiving a bag of food items from Chester’s first food bank in Chesterfield Inlet on Feb. 18, 2021.
photo courtesy Vicki Tanuyak

The food bank is being supported by Northern Canada Mini Projects through food donations and a credit account set up at the local Co-op store.

The project’s Cindy Dhillon said food banks are not just about food but are also about connection and generating an opportunity to check up on and check in with community members.

She said every Elder-led household in the community received some help this past week, adding the Elders were thrilled with the food assistance along with receiving a friendly hello with the delivery.

“Canadians band together during times of struggle and we’re supporting the food bank in Chesterfield Inlet as part of our attempt to combat hunger and food insecurity in a number of Nunavut hamlets in Northern Canada,” said Dhillon.

“I became aware that Chesterfield Inlet had no operational food bank through conversations with Ana Leishman, Glen Brocklebank and Vicki Tanuyak, so those in need have limited options for help.

“I recognize that not all Northern communities have an organized, ongoing food bank that is overseen, supported or funded by their hamlet or powerful agencies like Food Bank Canada, so, as a result, the burden of helping to feed food-insecure individuals in households has been falling on families and neighbours, some of whom themselves may also be struggling.

“So having to help feed additional people can add more stress and strain on these households as they try to deal with the high price of food that comes with living in the North.”

Dhillon said the Covid pandemic is not just devastating southern households.

She said it has also caused unexpected and sometimes devastating scenarios for Northern communities, as well.

“So, when we found out Chester didn’t have an active food bank we decided to help them with that by creating one where people can help in a couple of ways.

“They can send food products directly to the community through Canada Post for distribution to people in need, or, those who still have the ability to do so in this zombie apocalypse we seem to find ourselves in, can donate whatever amount they can to an account I set up at the local Co-op store in Chesterfield Inlet.

“With whatever donations are given, Vicki (Tanuyak) will then identify who’s in need and tend to their food needs as best she can with the donations given. This past week they focused on their Elder population, which is highly isolated. We actually are usually the ones behind creating a number of events where they can go out and have some fun in public or be around the kids at school.

“Unfortunately, the isolation has reached a full year now and their mental health is beginning to crumble a bit, especially those with limited ways of accessing what they need.”

Dhillon said the Northern Canada Mini Projects will continue to try and support the Chester food bank as long as it can raise awareness and get southern donors to help out.

She said there is also one more way she could help raise funds for the food bank.

“The third way of helping is for me to organize and execute a sale for them in their community where we send up much-needed items that they can’t get at their local store without paying expensive prices.

“We donate it to them, they sell it and those proceeds go towards something the community really needs, such as the maintenance of a food bank.

“So, once things return to normal, and their hamlet allows them to run a sale, that’s a third way we can help Chesterfield Inlet and its food bank.”

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