Food Security

Clean dishes fill up half of Lara Rae’s kitchen counter. Cutting boards, pots and pans sit on top of the stove. Last night, Rae cooked enough for a community.

“I go out at least three times a week,” said Rae, 56.

Rae started making hot meals in July 2019, when she said she noticed a need for homecooked meals. The Bear Clan Patrol had been giving out food like Subway sandwiches and McDonald's burgers, Rae said.

Some people have to choose between healthy and nutritious food for themselves and other activates said Rae.

“Not even necessarily things like rent, but things that make life work living,” said Rae.

The stress and anxiety created by this choice are what Rae describes as food insecurity.

Every year, around 64,000 people use foodbanks in Winnipeg, Winnipeg Harvest says. There’s been a 58 per cent increase in the people who use their services since 2008.
Volunteers prepare ingredients for NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre's community lunch. They serve hot lunches and dinners four times a week. RYAN JOB
Trends like these have inspired some city organizations to take action. NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre has been serving four meals a week since 2015.

“We believe that everyone should have access to good food,” said Shannon Burns, the Centre’s fundraising and communications specialist.

The organization serves food for people of all incomes and also runs cooking and gardening classes.

Student Brett Stevens, 21, used food banks to stock his shelves for a year when he moved out of his parents’ house.

“I used to have a hard time paying for food at the same time as paying rent,” said Stevens. “Food banks were very essential.”

Stevens lives in a part of the city that isn’t classified as a food desert, but there are five foodbanks in his area. People with lower income areas can have a hard time accessing healthy food and grocery stores, according to the Winnipeg Food Atlas map.

Rae said she’s accepting donations of grocery store gift cards and nonperishable foods to continue cooking for the community.

Food insecurity takes many forms in Winnipeg. Brianne Fiebelkorn shows us what people are doing to give themselves and others a fighting chance for a healthy meal.
The NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre has been serving community meals since it opened in 2015. The meals and its cooking and gardening classes have made it a hub for people of all income levels.