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Let’s do lunch!

Supporting school lunch programs in needy communities fills bellies and forms relationships

Submitted by Lewis Kelly (Edmonton, AB)

In 1845, Sir John Franklin set sail from England in command of the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus, leading 134 men in search of a sea route through the Arctic Archipelago. The expedition carried a three-year supply of preserved food. Ice trapped the ships near King William Island, part of what is today Nunavut, in September of 1846. All of the explorers eventually expired due to starvation, or, possibly, lead poisoning caused by poor soldering on the food cans.[1]

Remains of the crew discovered by forensic anthropologists showed evidence of cannibalism.

These days, avoiding lead poisoning and the jaws of your fellow humans in the Arctic is substantially easier. But getting the right food in the right amounts in the North is still a challenge. Food needs to be shipped long distances over challenging terrain, and that makes it expensive and difficult to find. The priciest, rarest foods are the perishable, nutritious ones that promote healthy brain development and prevent scurvy.

According to the non-profit Food Secure Canada, one in three people in Nunavut can’t access all of the nutritious food they need. A four-litre jug of milk can go for $20 or $30 in remote areas of the Northwest Territories (NWT)—this in a place where one in six families earn less than $30,000 a year.

Stantec works in the North through Deton’ Cho Stantec, our partnership with the Det’on Cho Corporation. We care about the communities we serve, so for years we put money towards university scholarships for Northern residents on the basis that post-secondary education creates more choices for young people.

Then last year Warren McLeod, operations manager for Deton’ Cho Stantec and a principal in our Yellowknife office, suggested a change. The high school dropout rate in the North has been estimated as high as 75 percent. Many of the students Stantec wanted to help had no chance of winning a scholarship. But, McLeod pointed out, everyone needs to eat. Why not put some money towards putting food in the hungry bellies of students?

So Stantec shifted its support from scholarships to food programs. We now help to fund food programs in Dettah, Yellowknife, Fort Resolution, and Apex, which is a hamlet southwest of Iqaluit.

Breakfast usually consists of cold or hot cereal, fruit, and a dairy product. Lunch is typically stew, bannock, or maybe soup. The meals strive to include three of the four major food groups and demonstrate healthy dietary choices for the students.

The FoodFirst Foundation runs education and breakfast programs throughout the NWT and Nunavut. Stantec’s funding to the organization helps feed around 100 students every day. Karen Pryzynk, the program’s coordinator, points out that the group meals do more than feed the students.

“When you share a meal with someone,” she says, “you feel closer to them.”

Breaking bread or bannock together fosters fellowship. That’s as true in the Artic as it is in the city. To read more about Stantec’s Aboriginal partnerships, go HERE.

[1] According to the Arctic history experts at Wikipedia.

Stantec’s Warren McLeod (grey jacket) with Roy Erasmus Jr., President and CEO of Det’on Cho Corporation, and a group of students

Everyone needs to eat. Why not put some money towards putting food in the hungry bellies of students?

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