Open Access Open Badges Research article

Community food program use in Inuvik, Northwest Territories

James D Ford1*, Marie-Pierre Lardeau1, Hilary Blackett2, Susan Chatwood2 and Denise Kurszewski2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

2 Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Yellowknife, NWT, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:970  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-970

Published: 18 October 2013



Community food programs (CFPs) provide an important safety-net for highly food insecure community members in the larger settlements of the Canadian Arctic. This study identifies who is using CFPs and why, drawing upon a case study from Inuvik, Northwest Territories. This work is compared with a similar study from Iqaluit, Nunavut, allowing the development of an Arctic-wide understanding of CFP use – a neglected topic in the northern food security literature.


Photovoice workshops (n=7), a modified USDA food security survey and open ended interviews with CFP users (n=54) in Inuvik.


Users of CFPs in Inuvik are more likely to be housing insecure, female, middle aged (35–64), unemployed, Aboriginal, and lack a high school education. Participants are primarily chronic users, and depend on CFPs for regular food access.


This work indicates the presence of chronically food insecure groups who have not benefited from the economic development and job opportunities offered in larger regional centers of the Canadian Arctic, and for whom traditional kinship-based food sharing networks have been unable to fully meet their dietary needs. While CFPs do not address the underlying causes of food insecurity, they provide an important service for communities undergoing rapid change, and need greater focus in food policy herein.

Community food programs; Food security; Arctic Canada; Inuvik; Food banks; Soup kitchen; Traditional foods; Aboriginal; Indigenous