Since May 2017, Project Sunset has been delivering in-school and after-school programming at Sioux Mountain Public School in Sioux Lookout. Project Sunset is an initiative that aims to build sustainable community partnerships with the goal of identifying innovative solutions that proactively address the root causes of youth crime, social disorder and crisis. One of the sustainable community partnerships that we have built is with Fresh Market Foods in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
Fresh Market Foods, is a local independent grocery store owned by Todd Nadon and Tracey Bullock. The owners are proud supporters of their community and often partner with local organizations to ensure that their community thrives. Fresh Market Foods have been partnering with different after-school programs and community organizations to promote healthy products and ultimately, the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. We reached out to the owners of Fresh Market Foods and they told us, “We believe all this contributes to a healthier attitude and a better sense of self, we hope that if some of these basic things take hold we will see our youth make better choices throughout their lives because they have the confidence and energy to accomplish anything they set their mind to”.
At Project Sunset, we know that nutrition is a critical piece in sustaining healthy children and thus, lends to a healthy community. Each week Fresh Market Foods delivers us fresh and healthy produce and goods. They have donated meals such as Greek wraps with fruit, lasagna with salad and moose stew. Todd Nadon, owner of Fresh Market Foods told us that, “the challenges with nutrition are many, but ultimately we believe that education is the biggest barrier to good food choice. Providing an environment where youth can not only learn about the benefits of healthy foods, but how fun, simple, and great tasting these foods can be is essential to our endeavour.” At Project Sunset, there is no bigger joy than to watch our students discover all kinds of new healthy foods and enjoy some of their all-time favourite meals from Fresh Market Foods.
Fresh Market Foods has had a very powerful and positive impact on our initiative because they have become a strong and positive community partner. Their donations and support have allowed us to help our students in many ways and continue to aid Project Sunset in obtaining successful outcomes at this specific project site. It has been great to see the students enjoying all of the after-school snacks and meals and seeing them leaving with a smile and full belly thanks to Fresh Market Foods.
As a northern community, families in Sioux Lookout often struggle with nutrition because the cost of living is higher than other communities in Northwestern Ontario. According to The Report on the 2015 Northern Food Basket Survey[i], published in June 2016 by the Northwestern Health Unit, the cost of feeding a family of four with nutritious foods in Northwestern Ontario is $1,018 per month. This means that families working for minimum-wage or families on social assistance may be required to use 60-80% of household income to pay for food and rent alone, which does not leave a lot of flexibility on other family expenses. This same survey indicated that over 1,600 people in Northwestern Ontario are food insecure. This means that they are unable to access the proper foods to maintain a healthy diet.
According to Diabetes Canada the incidence and prevalence rates of diabetes are several times higher among indigenous peoples compared to the general population [ii]To work towards lowering the rate of diagnosis of diabetes in First Nations, an active and healthy lifestyle needs to be accessible to youth in order to work towards preventing diabetes in at-risk youth. In addition, it is most beneficial when programs are developed in collaboration with community partners and promote activities and foods that are safe, acceptable and accessible to prevent the risk of diabetes[iii].
It is important to our team at Project Sunset to ensure that the proper ingredients for a healthy lifestyle are always accessible to all of our students. We are so grateful to Todd and Tracey at Fresh Market Foods for their immense contributions to our initiative. Their food donations not only help us continue to ensure that the students are fed, but also work to promote a healthy lifestyle. We use their donations to provide after-school snacks and dinner for the children at Sioux Mountain Public School. Their donations ensure that we can continue to deliver innovative and experiential programming while helping these students grow into healthy and active members in their community.
Once again, thank you from the entire team at Project Sunset for your support!
[i] Northwestern Health Unit. (2016.) Northern Food Basket Survey Report. Retrieved from: https://www.nwhu.on.ca/MediaPressCentre/Documents/Report%20on%20the%202015%20Northern%20Food%20Basket%20SurveyOct%202016.pdf
[ii] Diabetes Canada. (2013.) Canadian Journal of Diabetes: type 2 Diabetes in Aboriginal Peoples
[iii] Diabetes Canada. (2013.) Canadian Journal of Diabetes: type 2 Diabetes in Aboriginal Peoples