Food Security

Definition of Food security

Food security exists when all human beings at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, healthy and nutritional food enabling them to lead healthy, active lives.

Food insecurity exists when an individual or family does not have access to sufficient food.

In the context of Nunavik, it is important to consider access to both traditional foods and healthy, store-bought foods in improving food security.

To learn more about food security:

Food Insecurity in Nunavik

Many Nunavik families have difficulty with access to sufficient food. In the last regional health survey, conducted in 2004, close to one in four persons reported having lacked food during the month preceding the survey. There are several reasons, including:

  • the high cost of food in the grocery stores;
  • the high cost of hunting supplies and gasoline for hunting activities;
  • poverty;
  • declining populations of certain animal species;
  • climate change;
  • lack of opportunities to pass on knowledge on hunting, fishing and gathering;
  • lack of knowledge on preparing store-bought foods;
  • reduced availability of food in the stores of some communitiesIndividuals with low income, those who are unemployed and single parents are at greater risk of experiencing food insecurity. Large families also often experience difficulties in obtaining sufficient food.

Groceries cost 81% more in Nunavik compared to Québec City (Duhaime & Caron (2012). Nunavik Comparative Price Index 2011)

Consequences of Food Insecurity on Health

Food insecurity can affect the physical and mental health of individuals, families and communities. It is linked to:

  • greater risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes;
  • diminished learning capacity;
  • stress in children and families;
  • greater risk of mental illness, such as depression.

Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) Support for Local and Regional Initiatives in Food Security

In close partnership with local and regional organizations, the NRBHSS supports various community and regional initiatives, including:

  • community kitchens;
  • activities involving shared knowledge on traditional foods;
  • breakfast and healthy snacks for schoolchildren;
  • food support for pregnant women;
  • in-store nutrition program.

To learn more about support and funding that the NRBHSS can offer for initiatives relative to food security, consult our application form.

Food-security initiatives are funded in part by the Nutrition North Canada program, the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, the Healthy School approach and the Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program.

To learn more about promising initiatives in food security:

Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada: An Assessment of the State of Knowledge. Expert Panel on the State of Knowledge of Food Security in Northern Canada

Join the movement to improve food security in Nunavik

There is no single solution to the issue of food security. Several local and regional organizations and associations can, through their actions, contribute to food security. In order to better coordinate our efforts, it is necessary to develop a common vision and a shared plan with the actors concerned with the problem for the years to come.
The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services coordinates a process to design a regional food policy. That policy will be a plan shared by regional organizations and the communities to improve access to and availability of healthy store-bought foods and traditional foods. It will include a common vision and common objectives toward improved food security in Nunavik. A plan of action will be set up to guide and coordinate our efforts in the short, medium and long term. It will describe the actions to undertake, with consideration for the resources available in the region.
The regional working group on food security was created in 2015 with the goal of designing the regional food policy.

The principal regional organizations and associations are represented on the group, including:

  • Makivik
  • Kativik Regional Government
  • Kativik Ilisarniliriniq
  • Health centres
  • Saturviit Women’s Association
  • Elders’ association
  • Federation of Cooperatives of New-Québec
  • Nunavik research centre
  • Nunavik Association of Hunters, Fishers and Trappers
  • Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services

Four priority issues were identified by the working group. They will serve as the basis for designing the regional food policy:

  • access to traditional foods
  • access to and availability of food in stores
  • promotion of healthy eating and support for individuals in a serious situation of food insecurity (e.g., skipping meals or going hungry due to lack of resources)
  • local food production

To set up the regional food policy, four working sessions covering the four priority issues are planned for 2017-2018. Depending on the issue, the sessions could involve 30 to 80 persons from the entire region who work or would like to work on improving food security. The principal objective of these sessions is to identify and begin planning actions that must be undertaken to improve food security in Nunavik.

The first session was organized in the fall 2017. It covered access to traditional foods. The other three sessions will be held in 2018.

For further information or to attend a working session: or 819-964-2222, extension 353.

Example of strengthened partnerships in other regions:

Nunavut Food Security Coalition and strategy: