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WASAGAMACK FIRST NATION: High Food Prices Limit Access to Healthy Food from Store Shauna Zahariuk, Mariah Mailman and Shirley Thompson Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba [email protected] umanitoba. ca A Wasagamack resident commented on the high cost of one shopping bag that “One little white grocery bag at the store can cost $100”. Moose meat and fish are dietary staples for many residents of Wasagamack. In gardens throughout Wasagamack potatoes are a popular crop. The cold weather in spring and early summer prevented some people from gardening in 2009. BACKGROUND Wasagamack is concerned about the high cost of healthy food and limited selection of healthy food at the store. This study illustrates that people living in northern Manitoba have problems getting the proper nutrition because they have limited access to healthy foods, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products. Lack of healthy food causes health problems such as diabetes and obesity. Households often (20%) and sometimes (45%) ran out of money or food before they were able to buy more (total 65%). OBJECTIVES This study asked: • Do household members run out of food before they get money to buy more? • Could household members afford to eat balanced meals? • What would people like to see in their community to improve access to healthy food? • What are the barriers to eating healthy in this community? METHODS A door to door household food security survey and interviews were conducted in 2009 by Shauna Zahariuk. All people interviewed were 18 years and older, and 40 households were surveyed out of 251 households (Manitoba Bureau of Statistics. 2008. 2006 Census Profile, Wassagamack, IRI). The survey findings were analyzed by Statistical Products and Survey Solution (SPSS). Open-ended qualitative interviews were conducted in order to get a holistic understanding of the problem and the solutions. Participatory video recorded your stories. FINDINGS Country food is important to people in Wasagamack and made up 10% to 70% of total foods consumed. The survey revealed that most but not all households either hunted or fished, or received country food from relatives. Elder’s diets contained an abundance of country foods and younger community members often relied on store-bought foods. To improve access to food, households said an all-season road (22%) and an airport (35%) are needed. Eight percent of households suggested an additional store and longer store hours would help. More gardens, seeds and equipment were requested by 15% of households. Freshness, variety, and affordability were reoccurring themes concerning store-bought produce. High costs of foods was the largest barrier to eating healthy (78%), and then freshness of produce (35%). Many people expressed that produce was often wilted or rotten either at purchase time or shortly thereafter. Figure 1. What community people said was their number one priority for their community to eat healthier. Figure 2. Households worried money would run out (blue), money did run out (yellow), and they couldn’t afford healthy foods (green). 58% sometimes could SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESULTS • Households sometimes (43%) or often (19%) worried that food would run out before there was money to buy more (Figure 2). Additionally, households sometimes (38%) or often (19%) could not afford to eat balanced meals (57% total). • 67% of households relied on only a few kinds of low-cost foods to feed children because they were running out of money (Figure 3). Households often (17%) and sometimes (58%) could not afford to purchase healthy foods for children (Figure 3). • 73% of households indicated that children in the household were not eating enough because they could not afford enough food (Figure 3). • 14% of children did not eat for a full day, and 25% of children’s meals were skipped because there wasn’t enough money for food (Figure 4); additionally, children’s meals were often skipped (25%) and sometimes skipped (75%) every month. • 31% of adults ate less than they felt they should, and 25% of adults went hungry. PROGRAMS AND CONTACTS not afford to feed Programs are by request, to help actions in communities. Contact for help and supplies: children healthy foods, 1. Northern Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI) is funded by the Manitoba Government. Bayline Regional or enough food (55%). Roundtable (BRRT), Four Arrows Regional Health Authority (FARHA), Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC) and Manitoba Food Matters to increase access to healthy food and to support food projects. Contacts: Jennell Majeran, Manager (204 -677 -6677, jennell. [email protected] mb. ca) and Jessica Paley (204 -945 -0569, jessica. [email protected] mb. ca). Programs in other communities include: • chicken, turkey (with chicks and chicken food provided but not chicken coop), goat and other small livestock production, • freezer loans for people to buy freezers to store healthy food, • community or school greenhouse and households receiving plastic for building a greenhouse, • provision of vegetable seeds, berry and other bedding plants, and grow lights for schools, and • workshop in Thompson called Northern Harvest to provide free teaching to northern community members about food production and preservation. 2. Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) provides gardening support to communities to give workshops on gardening and chicken production. Contact: Brian Hunt (204 -856 -9255, Fax: 204 -7455690, brian. [email protected] mb. ca) Figure 3. Households with children relied on low-cost food (blue), 3. Frontier School Division provides Veggie Adventure school activities and greenhouse and gardening expertise couldn’t afford healthy foods (yellow), and weren’t able to eat for northern climates. Contact: Chuck Stensgard (204 -473 -2332, [email protected] com). enough (green). 15% of households didn’t have children. 14% of children did not 4. Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative (CDPI) provides some funding for traditional activities, gardening and eat for a whole day healthy snacks. Contact: Jerry Knott, Wasagamack Health Authority (204 -457 -2024). because there wasn’t 5. Four Arrows Regional Health Authority (FARHA) provides a freezer revolving loan program, works with schools enough food or money and assists with gardening, including providing some seeds and loaning gardening tools and for food and 29% were rototillers. Contact: Byron Beardy (204 -457 -2810 or 947 -2397, Fax: 204 -982 -3359, hungry. feather [email protected] ca or [email protected] net). 6. Green Team is a 100% government funded program that employs youth to start community gardens, market gardens or help people with their household gardening. Fill out the application form at: http: www. edu. gov. mb. ca/employers/hometown. html. 7. Look at the participatory video called Growing Hope in Northern Manitoba at: Video Trailer (8 minutes) : http: //home. cc. umanitoba. ca/~thompso 4/Movie. html. Full length video (22 minutes): http: //www. vimeo. com/0114019. Figure 4. Households where children’s meals were small (blue), skipped (yellow), children were hungry but there was no money for food (green), and children didn’t eat for a whole day (purple). ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Regional Partnerships Program (CIHR-RPP). We thank the community of Wasagamack, Linda Manoakeesick, Byron Beardy, Mark Dourn, Andy Wood, Four Arrows Regional Health Authority, and the Wasagamack Nursing Station for accommodations.