We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on TaKuaKautik-Nain Food Bank in Nain, NL.
What is your role in food banking?
The TaKuaKautik-Nain Food Bank is lead by a small but mighty group of volunteers. We do not have any paid staff. We share all the work and each take on every role until the work is done. TaKuaKautik truly is a collaborative effort, and we come together as a group when needed to make decisions by consensus.
Describe a typical day in one word.
Nakummek, which means “thank you” in Inuttitut and is a word we love to hear from our community members when they drop in to see us.
What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
Our small remote community faces many challenges when it comes to accessing good quality, healthy foods. Food prices are very high, weather can often cause long stretches where we don’t get food shipments, and climate change and increasing costs of hunting supplies create challenges for accessing food that is harvested from the land. Many in our community live with the challenges of poverty, and the long-term impacts of colonialism create inequities that negatively impact the health and wellness of people, families and communities. Because our communities are small, we do not have all the institutional social supports that you would find in an urban centre – NGOs, soup kitchens, shelters, and charities. Knowing that food access was a problem for many, we realized that the community lacked an emergency food program that could provide direct food support to families and individuals. This was the inspiration for bringing a committee together to form the TaKuaKautik-Nain Food Bank.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
Our greatest achievement has been being able to provide a consistent service to our community. Even when we had no staff, no building of our own, and no consistent stream of funding, we managed to keep our giveaways consistent, and have become a regular monthly service that community members can rely on. We are also very proud that our food bank runs on a request basis – there are no criteria that need to be met to be a client of our food bank. It is available for anyone and everyone in Nain.
What is your greatest challenge in your current role?
As a community-based volunteer group, we face many challenges in accessing funding and various resources. COVID-19 also presented us knew challenges. Demand for food increased, and our ability to run our operations with limited resources faced obstacles. But our amazing volunteers put their heads together (virtually of course!) and figured out how we could enhance our giveaways while prioritizing the safety of our community.
If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
That income supports and minimum wages were set high enough so that all families can thrive without the use of emergency support programs like ours.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Some artistic talent, so that we could paint our borrowed warehouse space with beautiful landscapes in inviting colours.
If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
Save for tomorrow, but don’t deny yourself the joy and experience that today has to offer. We are not guaranteed tomorrow!
Who are your heroes? Fictional or real life
Brenda Jararuse is the TaKuaKautik hero! She started this food bank a few years ago by calling a meeting and sharing her vision. Despite many hurdles, she continued to rally our group and encouraged us to persevere. Within a matter of months, she led the vision to become a community program that delivers food to any community member that needs it on a monthly basis. And we have never missed month since.
What is your idea of happiness?
Seeing families in our communities able to share a meal together without the worry of where the next meal will come from.
What is your motto?
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” – Helen Keller
Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?In the winter months, we deliver our food bags by snowmobile. We have sled boxes, built out of wood, called a kamutik that we load up with our deliveries, and off we go. We also partner with local community freezer once in a while, to add harvested food (like seal meat or fish) to our deliveries.
Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.