A grocery store in Nunavut is facing criticism after it tossed a large amount of food that was deemed edible into a landfill, rather than donate it to a local food bank.
The incident arose after strong winds knocked out power to the community of Pangnirtung last Thursday, leaving some businesses and homes without power, including the Northern Store.
On Friday, local resident David Kilabuk came across a landfill with heaps of meat, bread, produce and eggs, some of which was still considered edible. He took to Facebook to post photos of the dump, and well as to vent about his frustrations.
“Why not give them to the food bank? The food is not spoiled yet,” he wrote. “We will most likely see higher prices on the food soon to make up for this loss... It is just cruel and heartless to waste this food where it is truly needed. Just common sense to not waste food.”
Food prices in Canada’s northern territories are notoriously high, in part because the cold climate limits local agriculture, along with Nunavut’s remote location. According to Statistics Canada, nearly half of Nunavut households consider themselves as moderately or severely food insecure. There’s even a Facebook group called “Feeding My Family”, which documents the high prices of food in the North. Some posts include a pack of gum for $5.99 and baby formula and diapers that total nearly $75.
In an email to Yahoo Canada, Derek Reimer with The North West Company admits it was a mistake to not have consulted the community sooner to determine if any of the product could be donated. The grocery store was initially told power would be restored on the same day as the outage, but it wasn’t until the next day. In order to keep with safety guidelines, the store threw out “refrigerated product and thawed frozen product out of an abundance of caution once they were informed power would not be restored.”
“This was a mistake on our part and we apologize to the community,” Reimer said. “We will remind our stores about the importance of our food donation policy and ask them to reach out to local officials in such circumstances going forward.”