In mid-July, the provincial and federal governments jointly announced additional funding— through various programs— to further support northern food security projects. In making the announcement, both levels of government agreed that people should have better access to safe, nutritious food no matter where they live in Canada.
Additional grant funding was made available through the Northern Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI). A number of health stakeholders partner within the initiative including the Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC). NACC will be using their funding to support the Community Food Champions (CFC) program.
David Brasseur, Community Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), is also part of the Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) Promotion Team. Among other roles, Team members work on projects that address food security issues due to distance from grocery stores and poverty. As part of the NHFI, he is a Community Food Champion in Camperville and assists community members as they organize different food security efforts.
“I assist with getting spring seed orders in on time and help apply to the fruit tree program (apple, cherry, plum) they run in Camperville. I promote educational sessions such as the beekeeping course you have to take to apply for grant funding for getting bees. NHFI also run gardening workshops in Camperville, Duck Bay and Waterhen and provide community information on raising chickens and goats. We provide support in applying for funding by the deadlines. The funding does not come directly to PMH rather to the applicants on submission through NHFI,” Brasseur added.
Another Community Food Champion in Camperville is volunteer Peter-Paul Chartrand. He works with Brasseur and NHFI to further develop the Camperville Garden project, which will expand the fruit orchard as well as plant additional vegetables like corn and potatoes.
“Last year, we had 12 gardens, and this year we’ve had 36. We plan to increase the number of gardens, and we want to plant at least two apple trees at every home,” Chartrand said.
“We received $6,000 that will be used for the orchards and greenhouses and $1,200 which will be used for the community gardens”.
Stella Farand is Community LPN at the Primary Health Care Centre in Waterhen, and part of the PMH Health Promotion team. Farand says there are also food champions in the communities of Waterhen, Mallard, Rockridge and Spence Lake. She says raised gardens continue to increase in those communities and, prior to COVID- 19, in-person community leader meetings were being held quarterly to discuss community-led projects.
To find out more about the Northern Healthy Foods Initiative, visit https://www.gov.mb.ca/inr/major-initiatives/nhfi/