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No Food Store + No Commuter Train + No All-Weather Road = Hardship Accessing Healthy Food: Better Access to Healthy Food is Needed in Thicket Portage Vanessa.

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Presentation on theme: "No Food Store + No Commuter Train + No All-Weather Road = Hardship Accessing Healthy Food: Better Access to Healthy Food is Needed in Thicket Portage Vanessa."— Presentation transcript:

1 No Food Store + No Commuter Train + No All-Weather Road = Hardship Accessing Healthy Food: Better Access to Healthy Food is Needed in Thicket Portage Vanessa Lozecznik, Mariah Mailman and Shirley Thompson Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba OBJECTIVES This study asked: 1.Whether households relied on only a few kinds of low-cost foods to feed their children? 2.Whether household members could afford to eat meals that are balanced including carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables? 3.What the biggest barriers were to eating healthy? 4.What people would like to see in their community to improve food access? METHODS A door to door household food security survey and interviews of 20 households was conducted in 2009 by Vanessa Lozecznik. The people interviewed ranged from 22 to 68 years old. The survey findings were analyzed by Statistical Products and Survey Solution (SPSS). Open-ended qualitative interviews were conducted in order to get a holistic understanding of the problem and the solutions. Participatory video was used to record stories. SUMMARY Most people could not afford both the high cost of accessing food in Thompson and enough healthy food. With no all weather road and no food store in the community the train is the only means to get food. This train is not a commuter train that returns the same day; it requires that people stay overnight in Thompson. This means a trip to the grocery store costs $250 to $300 without groceries. This does not leave much money for healthy food and 70% of households could not afford to feed their children healthy food: one in four could not feed children healthy food often and 44% could not feed their children healthy food sometimes. Most people relied on low-cost food, which is often unhealthy, to feed their family. For that reason, many children don't like unfamiliar vegetables or healthy food. A food store in the community, community train and/or all-weather road were seen as solutions. Easier access would allow their money to be spent on food. Many people have limited incomes, as there are few jobs in the community. Many household would benefit from education about healthy food options. A few households were not able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy food options. Many people wanted to see more gardens and fresh vegetables. Previously Thicket Portage had greenhouses and people had gardens on their trap lines. They ate a lot of country foods and fish and still do. Gardening is not done extensively at this time and there is hope that this tradition will be revived and it will bring jobs to the community. A community member said they are not owners of the land and houses and for that reason they do not garden. This has been a barrier in the past but Bayline Regional Roundtable has worked to change this negative policy. People can garden at their houses without owning the land. BACKGROUND The high cost and lack of access to healthy food is a major problem in Thicket Portage and many other northern Manitoba communities. Thicket Portage has no all-weather road or food store and must access the store in Thompson by train, which adds a big cost to getting groceries. This study looks at food access using a standard survey to be able to compare with other communities. Do people living in the north have problems getting proper nutrition because they have limited access to healthy food, such as fresh vegetables, fruits and dairy products? PROGRAMS AND CONTACTS Programs are by request, to help actions in communities. Contact for help and supplies: 1.Northern Healthy Food Initiative (NHFI), Manitoba Government funds groups like Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC), Bayline Regional Roundtable (BRRT), Four Arrows Regional Health Authority and Manitoba Food Matters to increase access to healthy food and to support food projects. Contacts: Jennell Majeran, Manager, Northern Healthy Foods Initiative ( , and Jessica Paley, Northern Healthy Foods Initiative ( , Programs in other communities include: chicken, turkey (with chicks and feed provided but not coop), goat and other small livestock production, freezer loans for people to buy freezers to store healthy food, community or school greenhouse and households receiving plastic for building a greenhouse, provision of vegetable seeds, berry and other bedding plants, and grow lights for schools, and an annual workshop in Thompson called the Northern Harvest Forum to provide free teaching to northern community members about food production and preservation. 1.Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) provides gardening support to communities to give workshops on gardening and chicken production. Contact: Brian Hunt ( , Fax: , 2.Bayline Regional Round Table (BRRT)) provides freezer loans, assists with chicken production (providing chickens and their food free), provides garden materials (seeds, fencing) and loans (gardening tools and rototillors) and has a gardening champion in each community. Contact: Valerie Parker in Wabowden ( , Fax: , and Marie Brightnose in your community 3.Frontier School Division provides Veggie Adventure school activities and greenhouse and gardening expertise for northern climates. Contact: Chuck Stensgard ( , 4.Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative (CDPI) provides some funding for traditional activities, gardening and healthy snacks through the Thicket-Portage Health Centre. 5.Burntwood Regional Health Authority could provide community visits of dietitians to teach community people, particularly pregnant women and diabetes patient, about healthy diet and how to cook healthy meals ( ). 6.Apply for Green Team, a 100% government-funded program that employs youth to start community gardens, market gardens or help with household gardening. Fill out the application form at: 7.Visit “Growing Hope in Northern Manitoba” video at FINDINGS The average cost of a trip to the food store for Thicket Portage community members is $250 to $300, without buying any food. This is because Thicket Portage has no all-weather road or food store and must access the store in Thompson by train. The train is for commuting and requires that people rent a hotel to stay over for at least one night, which can turn into an extended stay and high cost if the train breaks down. The train was reported to often break down. Hotels and food en route cost a minimum of $150 per day, with additional costs for taxis to move all the groceries needed for the month and train tickets that total on average of $250 to $300 in travel costs alone for a trip to the grocery store. People cannot afford these high costs and buy healthy food: the community lacks jobs, which results in high unemployment and social assistance rates of 80%. Due to the high price of transportation, people can only afford one trip per month. Fresh fruit and vegetables only last for the first week after grocery shopping, and after that canned and low-cost food are used. Fi gure 2. Households worried money would run out (blue), money did run out (yellow), and they couldn’t afford healthy foods (green). Figure 3. Households with children relied on low-cost food (blue), couldn’t afford healthy foods (yellow), and weren’t able to eat enough (green). Of the households interviewed, 15% did not have children under 18 years. Figure 4. Households with children had smaller meals than wanted (blue), meals were skipped (yellow), children didn’t eat for a whole day (green), and children were hungry (purple). ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Regional Partnerships Program (CIHR-RPP). We thank the community of Thicket Portage, especially Nora and the Health Center for their hospitality, Rose for guiding us in the community, and her husband, Gilford, for driving us around. We thank the school for their valuable time and help and Joseph for his wonderful gardens. Figure 1. Percentage of households that need transportation, a garden, a store, and fresh vegetables to increase their food security. Survey results show what people need: 1.More than half (55%) of community households need better access through all-weather roads or commuter trains. 2.More than one in three people said Thicket- Portage should have a food store in their community, as there is not one. 3.Many people said gardening(40%) and fresh vegetables (15%) were key to good health. “The Bay Line program is providing everything for people who want to get into gardening. This is my first year and I am really happy with the results.” Joseph Dorion is planting his first garden. He thinks that “having a garden is a lot of work, but is something fun to do”. He is looking forward to harvest time. A community member said, “The children are not getting enough healthy options. They can’t even recognize common fruits and veggies because they never have been exposed to these kinds of food. They mostly eat Kraft dinner and chicken nuggets”. The only way to access Thicket Portage is by train or plane. Here is an example of people getting on board to do the monthly grocery shopping. Households couldn’t afford to feed children healthy food (often 28% and sometimes 44% = total 72%). 13% of households cut the size of meals for their children because of lack of money. Households ran out of food and money (often 56% and sometimes 33% = total 89%).


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