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You've got (food) mail!

Pilot project slashes shipping costs

Kevin Wilson
Northern News Services

Pelly Bay (Dec 03/01) - Nutritious eating just got cheaper.

Health Canada, the Nunavut Department of Health, and Indian and Northern Affairs will work together to slash food mail costs from 80 cents a kilogram to 30 cents, with an emphasis on nutritious foods.

NNSL Photo

Filling the basket

Shipping nutritious food to isolated Northern communities is expensive. Here are the costs of a basket of food designed to provide a family of four with a basic healthy diet.

- Southern Canada--$135 to $155

- Northern Quebec (with existing food mail subsidy) -- $220

- Nunavut and NWT (with existing food mail subsidy) -- $250 to $300

Health Canada has committed $1.5 million over three years to the project, which may also be implemented in two other communities.

DIAND will implement and monitor the program on behalf of Health Canada.

"We're working very closely with Health Canada," said Fred Hill, manager of the food mail program.

Administered by DIAND, the 30-year-old food mail program pays Canada Post a subsidy for shipments of food and essential non-food items to remote Northern communities.

Nunavut Health Minister Ed Picco said he was "very pleased" with the project. His department is kicking $85,000 worth of in-kind support, ranging from logistical help to the assistance of a government nutritionist.

Picco said health officials will also encourage residents in the communities to take advantage of the lower prices to eat healthier.

Health Canada opted for the project after studies in Pond Inlet and Repulse Bay confirmed consumption of fruit, vegetables and dairy products in isolated Northern communities was far below recommended levels.

Health Canada's Lori Doran, a senior nutritionist for the First Nations and Inuit health branch, said the project "includes the subsidy and some added health promotions."