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WHAT IS FOOD SECURITY?

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have access to, and can afford healthy and culturally appropriate food of their choosing. 

Our motto and mandate summarizes food security as Healthy Food for All, and that's what we strive for through our many projects, resources, and work with communities and partners throughout the province.


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Food Security Issues in
Newfoundland & Labrador

A number of unique challenges affect people's access to healthy, affordable food in our province.

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For example, the island of Newfoundland is cut-off from Canada by an ocean, and Labrador is a vast land of isolated towns. Transporting adequate food to our communities is a challenge in itself.

The fact our food must travel so long to get to us, typically by ferry or plane, increases the cost of our food, and affects food availability in our stores, and its freshness upon arrival here.

Our geographic realities are made worse by financial matters in our province: 1 in 20 of us is unable to afford food at grocery stores, and relies on food banks. Even if more of us could afford healthy foods, 84% of our communities do not have a supermarket to shop from, and are limited to offerings from corner stores and fast food outlets.

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We Only Have a 2-3 Day Supply of Produce

We would only have a 2-3 day supply of produce in our province if ferry shipments were disrupted by adverse weather, ferry maintenance, labour strikes, icy conditions, or similar troubles.

1 in 20 of Us Use Food Banks

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1 in 20 Newfoundlanders & Labradorians is unable to afford food at grocery stores, and relies on food banks. 

90% of our Fresh Vegetables are Imported

Only 10% of the fresh vegetables we eat are grown here, leaving us reliant upon imported produce from outside sources.

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80% of Our Seafood is Exported

The fishery is our province’s largest food industry, but we export over 80% of the seafood products we catch here. Often, our fish is shipped to a company abroad, packaged up as a product, and sold back to us.

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84% of Our Communities Do Not Have a Grocery Store

As a result they rely on corner stores and takeouts for food, experience frequent delays in shipments of food to their community, endure periods where fresh, healthy food is often unavailable or arrives in an undesirable state, and pay high costs for low quality food.

We Have 89% Fewer Farms than 1951

Between 1951 and 2015, the number of farms in NL plummeted from 3,500 to 400. That’s a decrease of 89%.

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As well, the average age of a farmer is climbing past 55, meaning fewer people are becoming farmers. As a result, there is less land available for farming, and more obstacles for new farmers in accessing the land and skilled staff they need to run a viable farm.

75% of us Do Not Eat Enough Produce

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Only 25% of us eat 5 servings of fruit & veggies a day. This is well below the national average. 

Highest Rates of Obesity & Diabetes in Canada

Good food and good health go hand in hand. You are what you eat, we’re eating poorly enough to have the country’s highest rates of obesity and diabetes, as well as the highest rates of healthcare costs per capita.

 New Barriers to Old Foodways

Traditionally, community food self-sufficiency was higher in our province. More people hunted, fished, foraged, and preserved more of their own food. People are reporting less time to do so these days, or, not having the money to afford the rising cost of gear like costly bullets or gas for expensive guns or snowmobiles. Climate change is also changing the timing and predictability of when bodies of water freeze or melt, and the migratory patterns of certain fish, birds, and herds. 

14 Fast Food Outlets Per 3 Grocery Stores

In Newfoundland & Labrador, the healthy choice isn’t the easy choice:  For every 10,000 people here, there are 14 fast food spots, and 8 corner stores, to every 3 grocery stores.


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Finding a Way Forward

Our province has unique and complex food security issues we must address for our collective diet, health, and quality of life.

Our grandparents looked to the backyard for food, but our children look to stores. We're losing our relationship with food, and with it, the food literacy, skills, knowledge, infrastructure, and resources we need to combat the food security issues we are facing here.

Fortunately, we know we can reclaim a healthier food system here, because our ancestors are proof of it. Our province has a rich history self-reliance and food traditions that once enabled us to live off the land and sea, including gardening, fishing, hunting, preserving, berry-picking, and foraging skills. These traditional foodways provide a strong foundation upon which we can build a more appropriate and resilient food system in our province.

Food First NL’s many projects are helping to ensure that all people, at all times, have access to healthy, affordable food of their choosing. 


A Healthy Food System Ensures Healthier Food For All

the availability of food pretty quickly: both of which affects our access to food.

When all the parts of the food system are strong, and working well together, we have food security. To perform well and be sustainable, a food system must protect the land, water, and air that sustains it, and be supported by local consumers.

This way, our food producers can continue to make enough money and produce enough food to support themselves and our food system, ensuring the production, distribution, access to, and consumption of healthy food for all.

Supporting local food producers supports local food production by strengthening the first link in the chain towards local food security. 

Food security requires a healthy and sustainable food system.

The food system is made up of five parts:

  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Access
  • Consumption
  • Disposal

Each part of the food system is connected, and when there are problems in one part of the food system, it will affect other parts of the system. 

For example, if there is a storm or strike, and ferries cannot deliver goods to our province, this disruption to distribution increases in the cost of food, and decreases