The NWT’s Liberal MP, Michael McLeod, on Tuesday announced around $640,000 in federal funding to help NWT food banks and organizations that provide food for people in need.
The money can be used to purchase food for distribution and cover expenses associated with getting food to people, including transportation, staffing costs, and personal protective equipment.
“We know that the demand during the Covid crisis is even greater due to financial pressure on families with job loss and reduced hours of work,” McLeod said.
“Food banks and local food organizations are on the front lines making sure people get essential food support in their time of need.”
The funding comes from a $100-million federal investment first announced in April.
At the peak of the pandemic, Statistics Canada says almost one in seven Canadians experienced food insecurity.
Nineteen organizations across the territory are receiving various amounts of funding. The groups are based in Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Fort Smith, Tuktoyatuk, Délı̨nę, Tulita, Fort Resolution, and Norman Wells.
Among the organizations are 10 schools and community organizations who receive money to support breakfast club programming, which provides children with meals when they get to school.
The largest amount was given to the Yellowknife Salvation Army, which receives more than $285,000. The Inuvik food bank will receive $98,000.
Yellowknife Salvation Army executive director Jason Brinson said the group has been helping different communities to provide people with food, and some of the money formally announced on Tuesday has already been used to help those efforts.
“We feel it’s our role to not only provide for the community of Yellowknife and the smaller communities around Yellowknife, but also to the broader Northwest Territories,” he said.
“This funding has increased our capacity to assist those who are facing difficult times, not only in the Yellowknife region, but also beyond the capacity of the capital.”
In Yellowknife, Brinson said, more than 200 hampers are distributed on a monthly basis.
“We’ve had stories come through our front office of people who have lost their jobs, had their jobs suspended for periods of time, and they’ve never reached out before. This has allowed us an opportunity to extend a hand to them,” he said.
Brinson expects that number to increase in the near future as some people run out of savings or turn to the food bank for the first time.
“There will be an ongoing need throughout the winter and into the new year,” he said.
“We’ve planned for that and we have contingency in place to continue to be able to serve people who come looking for assistance.”