Second Harvest Presents to the House of Commons

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Hunger Relief

On February 18, Second Harvest’s CEO Lori Nikkel presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs on the topic of Food Security in Northern Communities, along with National Chief Elmer St. Pierre of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. 

You can watch Second Harvest’s complete presentation to the Standing Committee here, beginning at 11:12:40.

Here is an excerpt from Lori’s remarks:

I want to begin by stating that Second Harvest is by no means an expert in the complex and multi-faceted challenges of Northern and Indigenous food security. 

What we can tell you is that food security, or food insecurity, is an outcome of poverty, and food security will only be possible when there are systems and supports in place for people to be able to access the food, housing, and other essentials they need, when they need them – without the need for charitable organizations like mine.

In the interim, we think it’s imperative that we get healthy food to communities at no cost to them. For those of you unfamiliar with Second Harvest, we are the largest food rescue charity in the country. We are unique in that we redistribute primarily perishable food. We work at the intersection of hunger relief and environmental protection. 

We do this because in Canada 58% of all food produced is lost or wasted, including 11.2 million metric tonnes of surplus food that could easily be rescued and redistributed – that’s enough food to feed every Canadian for five months. At Second Harvest what we do is create systems to re-direct that food to charities, non-profits, and Northern and Indigenous communities.  

We do this with technology, as well as trucks, trains, boats and planes to ensure this surplus food stays out of landfill where it releases greenhouse gases, like methane, and directly contributes to the climate crisis …

Additionally, through the federal government’s Surplus Food Rescue Program, which we are strong advocates for, we were able to source, process and deliver about 2 million pounds of fresh, healthy, free food to communities, including fish, chicken, bison, and frozen vegetables. 

As the government subsidies conclude we know how critical it is for us to continue to provide services to communities. However, the logistical infrastructure necessary to get food to the many remote and isolated communities is prohibitively expensive and a serious contributor to food insecurity. In the Northwest Territories alone 33 communities cover 1 million square kilometres of land, which makes getting good, healthy food at a decent price difficult, to say the least.

Transporting perishable healthy food is especially complex and expensive. However, we are committed to ensuring surplus food will reach the communities that want the food.

Want to hear more? You can watch Second Harvest’s complete presentation to the Standing Committee here, beginning at 11:12:40.

Want to learn more? Read our articles about our fly-in delivery of food to Aklavik, NWT and surplus food supporting a community in Fort Smith after high waters decimated hunting and fishing. 

MAIN PHOTO: Helen’s Fish Camp on the traditional territory of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council. Photo by Alistair Maitland Photography, courtesy First Nation Education Directorate.