FOOD INSECURITY IN MANITOBA: A CASE STUDY OF CROSS LAKE

Micah Zerbe

Abstract


Northern Manitoban (Canada) communities experience much higher rates of food insecurity than the rest of Manitoba. While the Manitoba food insecurity rate is 12.1 percent, the incidence in northern Manitoba is 75 percent. This is due to geographic, transportation, economic, and knowledge barriers that particularly affect remote northern communities. The severity of food insecurity can vary from worrying about running out of food to going days without eating. Food insecurity is a threat to physical and mental health, and can lead to increased risk of illness, such as depression, diabetes, and heart disease.

Following a presentation of food insecurity in Manitoba at Expo 2015, this paper looks at the community of Cross Lake as a case study of methods to address food insecurity. While the community is faced with many barriers to food security, it also has many food assets. Food Matters Manitoba, a non-governmental organization with the mission to end food insecurity in Manitoba, has engaged with Cross Lake through a process of community engagement in order to find out what community members think are most important projects to work on and what resources already exist. From this process it is clear that Cross Lake has many assets, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to significantly improve its food security. Community-driven economic development that is participatory, comprehensive, and takes into account traditional practices can provide the means to address food insecurity and reduce poverty and social exclusion. A community-based approach also provides opportunities for northern communities to make connections with each other and create geographic partnerships that empower local residents to improve their own conditions.

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