A message from the CEO

The Food Banks Reaching Indigenous Peoples Across the Globe

Dear Partner – Food banks are relentlessly creative in their commitment to reaching remote groups, especially during these difficult times. In honor of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, commemorated on 9 August, we are highlighting some of the unique ways that food banks are serving these communities with nutritious foods. Mesa Brasil Sesc, Brazil’s national food bank network, serves 74 ethnic groups, including about 23,000 Indigenous Peoples. “[We’ve been serving these groups] in a systematic way for more than 10 years and, with this current pandemic, our work has intensified,” said Ana Cristina Barros, Assistant Manager with Sesc’s National Department. Building trust is crucial to providing culturally appropriate and effective food relief. Ana Cristina shared that Sesc gains access to communities through reputable local organizations and through the leadership of the indigenous district. Logistically, it can be very challenging to provide food given the lack of roads and rail throughout the country.  But Mesa Brasil Sesc has found a way – in the Amazonas state for example, where Indigenous Peoples often live in communities inaccessible by roads, the food bank delivers food stocks via small boats. 
Foodbank Northern Territory’s remote schools program enables Indigenous students to access healthy nutritious food in over 30 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups.
In the Northern Territory of Australia where 30 percent of the population is Indigenous, Foodbank Northern Territory serves more than 30 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups. Since the food bank began providing service in 2015, the scale of food relief has grown year over year, especially in its remote school program, which enables Indigenous students to access nutritious breakfast and lunch programs.  In 2019, Foodbank Northern Territory was awarded a GFN Zero Hunger Challenge grant to expand its service to Indigenous Peoples. Getting food to Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory can prove extremely challenging. Peter Chandler, General Manager Operations at Foodbank Northern Territory said, “Food is delivered via providers who offer regular freight services to the communities, but the roads are often poor with varying degrees of maintenance. Long distances are traveled – up to 1000 km, and 500 km can be on unsealed roads. Remote islands are serviced via sea barges, with delivery locations varying with tides and seasonal variations between the dry and monsoonal seasons. Remote communities are often inaccessible by road for weeks and months in the monsoonal wet season.” Fundación Banco De Alimentos Paraguay, based in Asunción, began serving Indigenous communities two years ago. Federico Gonzalez, Executive Director of Fundación Banco De Alimentos Paraguay, said that he is proud to serve Indigenous Peoples because “…they are the native peoples who should be more present in our activities because of what they represent for our national culture.” To reach the remote communities, Federico and his team connect with trusted individuals who make the introduction between the food bank and the community. He shared, “Gaining trust is not easy, but once they know and trust you, they open their doors to you.”
Amid COVID-19, Food Banks Canada was able to secure a donation of a Nolinor flight to deliver food and supplies to Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut.
In Canada, Food Banks Canada serves the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples – and has been since the start of food banking in Canada in 1981. In parts of Canada, particularly in Alberta, there are even food banks on reserves. Kirstin Beardsley, Chief Network Services Officer foparr Food Banks Canada, shared that her organization is having “more deliberate conversations” around food sovereignty, which is “a recognition that colonialism took away indigenous populations’ self-sustaining access to food” – and the role that food banks should have in providing support. When it comes to accessing healthy and nutritious food, Kirstin said, “Indigenous populations know the solutions. We’re asking ourselves how we can advocate for them.” Thank you for your continued support of food banking and of GFN’s mission. My best, Lisa Lisa Moon President & CEO The Global FoodBanking Network