In the oilsands, a food crisis worsens _ fort mcmurray today

As soon as the winter road opens, Joe Marten and his wife, Vy, will drive more than 200 kilometres from Fort Chipewyan to a grocery store in the Northwest Territories. Noodles denver Driving to the town of Fort Smith can be the cheaper, healthier alternative to walking 450 metres to the grocery store.

“It costs me about $100 to fill one shopping bag of food at the Northern,” Fort Chipewyan’s only grocery store, says Joe. Noodles order “I can maybe fill up to three bags with that same amount of money if I shop up north.”

At a Fort Smith store called Kaisar’s, a 10 per cent discount is offered to seniors, students and Fort Chipewyan residents. Noodles a A cashier says fresh produce is delivered every Wednesday evening by truck, but irregularly to Northern.


Kaisar’s is still a victim of the arctic’s infamous high food prices, but the Martens can’t beat the savings. Fast food noodles And even though gas prices sometimes means those savings, if any, are just a few dollars, the food is fresher.

“We have freezers and stock up as much food as we can. Noodles and compsny But fresh and healthy food is a luxury,” says Vy. Noodles and company owner “The diets are different now. Noodles and company hicksville We didn’t have so much processed food. Noodles and company lakewood Now it’s all most people can get, and it’s all the young people want to eat and know how to eat.”

“Even with a job and a lot of money, some things are just hard to find,” adds Joe, who worked as a safety supervisor for 20 years with Suncor, Syncrude and Shell Albian Sands.

If someone were to picture what hunger and malnutrition in Alberta looks like, chances are they will not picture anyone living in what politicians dub “the economic engine of Canada.”

But in the heart of the oilsands, 7,018 people rely on the Wood Buffalo Food Bank as of October, a 70 per cent increase from the same time last year. Noodles and company carmel One-third of clients were under 18.

And despite dozens of corporate partnerships, fundraisers and no shortage of volunteers, it has been a struggle to prevent the shelves from going bare.

Outside Fort McMurray, the mostly indigenous inhabitants of the municipality’s rural hamlets travel hundreds of kilometres every month for fresh food. Noodles menu Ironically, many of them earn lucrative salaries in the energy industry.

With two First Nations and a Metis local, Fort Chipewyan is almost pastoral compared to other aboriginal communities. Noodles by noodles Alcohol and substance abuse is relatively low and – even after oil prices dropped precipitately, causing thousands of Albertans to lose their jobs this year – so is unemployment.

But the community is facing cultural challenges worsening an existing “food crisis,” warns Esther Tailfeathers, the community’s sole doctor who fears the fallout will be devastating physically and spiritually.

Since arriving in Fort Chipewyan more than three years ago, the costs of ammunition, gasoline, and maintaining boats and off-road vehicles have risen, hurting hunting and fishing. Noodles and company deer park The Athabasca Delta’s water levels have also shrunk, pushing the few remaining fishermen even further away from the community.

More elders suffer from depression because they are not spending as much time as they would like in the bush. Noodles and complany Tailfeathers and local aboriginal leaders say youth are interested in carrying on traditions, but if they’re commuting out of work camps, trapping becomes a hobby rather than a lifestyle, and food from the wild becomes a luxury. Noodles number With cancer fears gripping the community, few believe the fish and water are safe to consume.

“A lot of elders say things to me like, ‘What’s the point of fishing if I can’t eat the fish or drink the water? What use is it to go hunting if I can’t eat the meat? What’s the point anymore?’’ That thinking changes their lifestyles and their souls,” says Tailfeathers. Noodles restaurante “For them, hunting means more than just an activity.”

In July 2014, researchers from the University of Manitoba’s Environmental Conservation Lab noted fears of contaminated traditional foods pushed locals away from hunting and foraging, and towards storebought food that was often nutritionally empty.

Even if foraged food was not greeted with suspicion, it’s easy to see why processed food is favoured by local shoppers. Noodles and company cost Like many northern communities, buying groceries in Fort Chipewyan is an exercise in sticker shock.

During a visit to Northern this past spring, a two-litre carton of milk was $8.65 and a carton of strawberries nearly $18. Noodles abd company A package of eight chicken drumsticks ran at $30. Noodles and company catering It was not uncommon to find most packaged produce already spoiled.

But the frozen dinners were in the $10 to $15 range. Noodles and company thai hot pot Canned items, high in sodium and sugar, averaged less than $6. Noodles and company troy Cans of Coca-Cola, arranged in a pyramid nearly reaching the ceiling, were on sale for 99-cents. Noodles and company 76th street A novelty half-pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was less than $9; it had 107 per cent of an adult’s daily fat intake.

“It’s really tough to teach people and children about healthy eating when there is no healthy food to eat, and it’s very naive to tell people how they should eat in this environment,” she says. Can you get noodles and company to go “The reality is that if you live here and you can’t hunt or forage regularly, you’re stuck with semi-fresh and high-fat processed food.”

A customer leaves the Northern store in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. Noodles and company wheaton in this December 2014 file photo. Kt noodles menu Vincent Mcdermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

As the oilsands grows hungrier, it also grows heavier. Noodles and company nashua A report released by the Health Quality Council of Alberta in July found obesity, and the diseases that followed, were highest in Alberta’s north.

It is a cruel irony that nutritious food eludes so many in a municipality sitting on billions of dollars of oil. Noodles and company greeley co It is even worse when the people in two hamlets south of Fort McMurray are surrounded by oil companies and leases for future in situ oilsands projects, but drive up to 150 kilometres for groceries.

Almost all future oil projects in Wood Buffalo will be south of Fort McMurray along Highway 881, near Janvier and Conklin. Ingredients for noodles Some current work camps employ chefs with gourmet training and regularly bring in fresh ingredients. Noodles and company evanston But as Fort McMurray witnessed, the rush to capitalize on Alberta’s black gold left nearby communities behind in terms of infrastructure.

Whereas he could once dine on fresh berries and moose meat everyday, he admits his diet these days is mostly storebought foods heavy on fat, refined sugar and salt. Noodles and company university ave He also thinks he might have diabetes, but is waiting to hear results from a doctor.

“I am a good hunter. Noodles and company corporate I could kill a moose 20 minutes from my house,” he says in his Janvier home. Noodles and company appleton wi “Now they’re all gone from industry. Noodles and company email The machines scare them away. Noodles menu prices There’s not a lot of wild berries anymore.”

Janvier does not have a large freezer, so when he drives to Fort McMurray every month for groceries, he usually skips the produce. Noodles and company restaurant When he factors in gas, his monthly grocery bill can run up to $1,000.

“It’s not economical to do groceries unless you plan on buying big,” says Darlene Herman of Janvier. Noodles and company tampa “And even then, you need to buy a big extra freezer to keep things fresh.”

It’s even harder for seniors, who often cannot drive or are too intimidated of the highway, particularly during winter. Noodles and company employment They often rely on neighbours and family to shop for them.

“We are forcing the rural hamlets into poverty to access basic amenities,” says Ariana Johnson, executive director of the Wood Buffalo Food Bank. Noodles and company menu and prices “When someone from Conklin drives into Fort McMurray to come to us or do their groceries, it still costs a lot of money. House of noodles menu Sometimes they take cabs.”

A complete basket of meat, vegetables and perishables is prepared for a family of four at the Wood Buffalo Food Bank on Monday, November 9, 2015. Noodles and company naperville The basket is expected to last one month. Noodles and company okemos Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

The most recent Statistics Canada data, collected in 2012, found 1.1 million Canadian households experience food insecurity. Noodles and company bozeman Alberta was in eighth place, tied with Saskatchewan and Quebec.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research was even more grim that year; researchers found “four million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, lived in households that struggled to afford the food they needed.”

It is possible to shop well on a tight budget in Fort McMurray, but it takes resourcefulness and a generous shopping schedule few low-income earners have. Noodles and company niles And with questionable job security for many oil workers, Johnson says it’s not uncommon to see former donors show up as clients these days.

When oil companies began laying off workers and cutting hours, the food bank struggled with the extra demand. Noodles and companu Fortunately, this year’s Christmas season has been kind with donations.

During a November visit, the warehouse the food bank sits in was packed with hundreds of bags from a food drive organized by Syncrude. Noodles and company frederick A team of volunteers had just finished packing an order for a family of four.

The two crates were filled with soups, sauces and stews, and at least three boxes of Kraft Dinner. Working at noodles and company There were also two kinds of cookies, some pasta and instant noodles. Noodles and company woodbury Lucky charms and Frosted Flakes were thrown in for breakfast.

The only produce? A five-pound bag of potatoes and three-pound bag of carrots. Noodles and company headquarters There were also two litres of milk that would expire in eight days, six eggs, some butter, a small package of lean ground beef, and four frozen chicken drumsticks and thighs. Noodles and company hudson wi The order was supposed to last one month.

Those were the best items that could make it into an order. Noodles and company new berlin Some years, up to five per cent of donations are expired or damaged. Noodles andcompany This year, more than 9,200 pounds of packaged food – three per cent of the year’s total donations – went into the trash.

There is lots of room for improvement, concedes Johnson, and the food bank has partnered with Dunvegan Gardens and Meadow Creek Farms to bring in fresh produce. Noodles and company menu prices Individuals can donate their own produce and perishables, but for safety reasons, they have to be delivered to the food bank in person.

“As much as we really appreciate food donations, the donation of Campbell’s soup is not as valuable as a soup that is low in sodium,” she says. Noodles nd company The best donation to a food bank, says Johnson, is money to buy more food at bulk prices.

Volunteer Daniel Dube sorts food at the Wood Buffalo Food Bank in Fort McMurray Alta. Noodles and company to go on Saturday November 28, 2015. What is noodles Garrett Barry/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

On the outside, there is little trace of the hardship Kavita, who asked the Today not to use her last name, and her family have faced in the last year. Noodles locations Her three sons, between the ages of 8 and 13, sport brand name clothing. Noodles and company draper Kavita dresses stylishly and her husband, who asked not to be named, is well groomed.

But look closer and you realize most of the clothes come from the Salvation Army and local churches. Noodles etc chicago The family pantry is filled with processed food handpicked by strangers.

Kavita has a full-time job at a fast food restaurant. Noodles and company louisville Her husband lost his job at a major oil company last January and now drives a cab. Noodles and things He earns a salary he describes as “comfortable for Fort McMurray,” unless he needs to do maintenance; that comes out of his own pocket. Noodles history Kavita earns just over $15 per hour.

After paying rent, bills, some debt and sending money to a sick relative in India, there is not much money left for a family of five, or time for meal planning. Noodles fast food The family’s schedule plays a role in determining what the family eats as much as the wages.

Kavita spends 90 minutes on the bus every morning to get to her job in Timberlea. Noodles and company texas When her husband is unable to, Kavita will spend an extra 40 minutes on the bus picking her children up from school.

“I know some people will say that what I did made me a bad mother, but I couldn’t cook everyday with this schedule,” she says. Noodles and company take out “You just have to live like this to see how it is, when you just have to eat something.”

When the boys started gaining weight, the family signed up for the food bank. Noodles and company franchise That decision brought a collective sense of relief for Kavita and her husband, until they saw how much processed food they were given. Noodles corporate Their waistlines are still widening.

“I wonder what this does to their bodies. Noodles and comoany They still aren’t eating well. Noodles and company joliet We still don’t eat healthy,” says Kavita. Noodles atlanta menu “I can’t tell them not to eat if they’re hungry, though.”