Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 486

486 Arctic Yearbook 2014 Many describe their struggles to buy healthy food, children going to bed hungry and not attending school, and poor quality food (often past the expiry date) and limited variety in stores. A recent survey found that food prices in Nunavut are on average 140% higher than the rest of Canada, and the average cost to feed a family of four can reach almost $2,000 per month. With the extremely high costs of living in the north, many have to choose between buying food and paying bills. Members are concerned about the limited employment opportunities, overcrowded housing, and high costs of freight, airfare, and internet service. Nunavut’s median annual income is $28,500, with almost 40% of the population receiving social assistance. There are few food banks set up in the territory and, although food sharing networks are strong, many describe the stress of having to provide for or depend on their extended family for food. Another member posted, “I had to go over to Social Services and ask for some food too. I go hungry so my kids can eat too, yes we all have family to help but they also have kids, right? I try my best not to ask from my siblings only when we badly need help that’s when I seek help...”. FMF members are calling on governments and retailers to do more to address hunger in Nunavut. Much of the criticism has focused on Nutrition North Canada (NNC), the federal freight subsidy program that replaced the Food Mail program in 2011. Food Mail used to subsidize northern residents directly, but NNC now subsidizes the retailers, rationalizing that it will trickle down to customers. Two food retailers have a virtual monopoly in Nunavut (Northwest Company and Arctic Cooperatives), and they stand to profit greatly. FMF members contend that NNC is not actually lowering food costs in the communities, and the photos of food prices posted on Facebook are serving as a form of price monitoring. There have been accusations that NNC is selectively reporting food costs based on unverified price information, and the Auditor General of Canada is currently auditing NNC. FMF is about uniting Northerners as a collective voice and has been a catalyst for communitybased solutions, facilitating other spin-off groups to address hunger in the north. Protesting is not something Inuit traditionally do, but adapting and working together has been the way Inuit have always survived the harsh Arctic environment. Hunger had been fought by thei