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Canada moves to improve food security for rural and northern communities

10 November 2020

The Government of Canada and Food Banks Canada are joining forces to improve food security in underserved communities.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced that Food Banks Canada has launched the $2.3 million Rural and Northern Capacity Fund. Minister Bibeau made the announcement alongside Gudie Hutchings, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, and Kirsten Beardsley of Food Banks Canada. This initiative is being funded under the first round of the $200 million Emergency Food Security Fund, and will help address food insecurity in communities or regions that are currently underserved.

Agriculture Minister Bibeau said, "Our Government has been working hard to ensure Canadians across the country, and especially those in rural and northern communities, have access to safe, nutritious food. By working with our partners, we are better able to get help to those who need it most."

Organisations in rural and northern areas can receive help under the initiative to develop or improve infrastructure that helps get food to vulnerable people. This includes supporting the purchase, transportation and distribution of food, hiring additional staff and undertaking small-scale construction projects. Food Banks Canada is now accepting applications for funding from community or charitable organizations, Indigenous groups and not-for-profit co-operatives. The funding will target the gaps in food security services in rural and northern communities in relation to the previous funding allocated under the Emergency Food Security Fund.

COVID-19 has presented significant challenges to communities across Canada, and particularly for Canadians facing food insecurity. It has highlighted the importance of local food organisations, the need to continue to support them, and the crucial services Canadians rely upon to be safe and healthy.

Gudie Hutchings, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development said, "Ensuring the health and safety of people in our rural and northern communities is a priority for our Government, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will be instrumental in helping people in these communities access food, so they can better deal with the other unique challenges posed by the pandemic."

The initial Emergency Food Security Fund was launched in April and provided $100 million to help improve access to food for people experiencing food insecurity in Canada because of COVID-19. To date, the funding has offered support to more than 1,800 individual projects in communities across Canada, which is estimated to have helped serve over two million Canadians with six million meals.

Kirstin Beardsley, Chief Network Services Officer with Food Banks Canada said, “With this government investment, food banks in rural and northern communities will be able to purchase food, freezers and much needed equipment to make sure they can support their communities through the difficult winter months ahead. As food banks across the country continue to innovate and adapt to current public health guidelines, this investment will be critical in making sure smaller and remote communities are supported as the need for their services goes up.”



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