Food insecurity in Nunavut: Are we going from bad to worse?

2019 May 21

Ford, J.D., Clark, D.G. and Naylor, A.W. (2019). Food insecurity in Nunavut: Are we going from bad to worse? Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ)191(20), pp. E550-E551.


Access to adequate food is a major challenge for communities across the Inuit Nunangat. In Nunavut, food insecurity has been identified to be at crisis level, with 46.8% of households categorized as food insecure in the most recent Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) in 2014. Such a high rate of food insecurity documented in a high­-income nation, with all its related health and societal implications, is concerning. As such, food security has become a political and public priority in Nunavut, and in 2011 the federal government launched the Nutrition North Canada program to improve the affordability and accessibility of perishable, nutritious store foods. Nutrition North Canada has been controversial since its inception, and now a linked research paper by Fafard St ­Germain and colleagues provides evidence that rates of food insecurity in the territory have actually increased by 13.2 percentage points since the program’s launch.

The authors of the linked study use a novel design to examine CCHS data from before (2007–2010) and after (2014–2016) the implementation of Nutrition North Canada. Finding that reported food insecurity has increased in remote communities in Nunavut, they question the effectiveness of Nutrition North Canada. How­ ever, this policy forms part of a whole suite of actions by govern­ ment, civil society and communities targeted at strengthening food systems. The degree of contribution of Nutrition North Canada to increased food insecurity needs further investigation.

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