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Indigenous Services Canada - Food Security Fund - Ontario Region

This document provides information on funding options to address food security issues resulting from COVID-19.

1. Federal support for families

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), jointly delivered by Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, may provide individuals who have stopped working because of COVID-19 with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. For information on eligibility, how to apply or to access the application, visit the following website:

2. Federal funding for First Nations communities

2.1 Healthy Living and Healthy Children programs

Your community can direct funding provided through existing federal programs, to address food security issues resulting from COVID-19. For example, funding fro Indigenous Services Canada for Healthy Living programs (e.g. Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative and Nutrition North Canada) and Healthy Children’s programs (e.g. Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, Maternal Child Health) can be used to support the improvement of maternal, infant, child and family health. These activities include: community gardens, food banks, food hampers and vouchers, as well as, knowledge and skill development of healthy store bought and traditional food preparation.

2.2 Indigenous Community Support Fund

In April 2020, communities received funding through the Indigenous Community Support Fund which was part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Funds give Indigenous leadership the flexibility needed to address the immediate needs in their communities as they prepare for, and react to the spread of COVID-19. These funds can be used for measures in the fiscal year 2020/2021 including, measures to address food insecurity.

2.3 Nutrition North Canada

For communities that are eligible for Nutrition North Canada, please note that there have been enhancements to subsidies and eligibility lists. Until March 31st, 2021, subsidy levels have been increased by an additional $1/kg on Level 1 items (Higher Subsidy Level) and an additional 50 cents/kg on Targeted items (Highest Subsidy Level). The enhanced eligibility list now includes subsidies for cleaning and personal hygiene products.

2.4 Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare (IELCC) Transformation Initiative

The IELCC Terms and Conditions have been temporarily amended to extend eligible spending to encompass any activity that provides assistance to Indigenous children and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Horizontal Terms and Conditions already allow spending on nutrition and food-related activities tied to early learning and childcare programs and services, including those provided by the Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve, Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern communities and First Nations and Inuit Child Care Programs. The three participating Departments (ESDC, Indigenous Services Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada) can draw on these horizontal Terms and Conditions. For example, while some day cares are closed, Indigenous communities have the discretion to use available IELCC funds to supply food hampers to families who may not have reliable access to healthy foods. This additional flexibility applies to unspent 2019-20 IELCC funds that have been carried forward for use in 2020-21. It also applies to unspent funds from the First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative and the Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve Program that have been carried forward from 2019-20 for use in 2020-21. This is temporary measure is in effect for six months, from April 1, 2020 through to September 30, 2020. ESDC will continue to assess the pandemic response and recovery to consider whether the deadline should be extended.

3. Provincial funding for First Nations communities

As part of Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, funding is available to help First Nations communities respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Funding can be used for emergency needs such as food, water, basic household goods, baby and elderly care supplies; ongoing food security, including supports for hunters, trappers and communal storage; transportation and distribution of goods to communities. Proposals will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. For more information, funding guidelines and a funding proposal form, email:

4. Other sources of funding for communities

Breakfast Clubs of Canada and Second Harvest are two of five organizations that have received government funding to work with local partners to meet the urgent food needs of Canadians, including Indigenous peoples.

Eligible activities for this new funding include the purchase of food, support for the transportation and distribution of food, hiring temporary help to fill volunteer shortages, and activities to implement biosecurity measures, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers and clients. Please contact these organizations directly.

4.1 Breakfast Club of Canada

Special grants are available for community organizations including Indigenous, remote and fly in communities to help ensure children and families have access to food during the crisis. The online application is simple with 3 questions that have to be answered (What initiatives are you putting in place? What type of support do you need? How much support do you need?).

4.2 Second Harvest

Funding must go towards existing food programming (food related expenses & operating costs) and is available to Canadian Non-Profit or Registered Charities, Band Council or First Nations community. Note applicants must not be a member of, or received COVID-19 emergency funding, from the following organizations: Food Banks Canada, Community Food Centres Canada, Salvation Army or Breakfast Clubs of Canada. Applications are being accepted in anticipation of a second round of funding and can be accessed at: Click on “Apply for funding only”. Please note that applicants must submit an itemized budget on how funding will be spent.

4.3 President’s Choice

A School Nutrition Grant of up to $10,000 is available to cover costs associated purchasing of food for daily school meal programs. This grant is intended to supplement the funding of existing programs, allowing for higher quality, more sustainable programing. Applications submitted before May 30th 2020 will be notified by June 15th. Applications submitted after May 30th will be reviewed and notified monthly.

A Nutrition Education Grant of up to $10,000 can be accessed to cover the costs associated with programs like cooking classes, farm tours, dietitian services, or equipment like green houses, growing towers, and composting systems. The application will soon be available.

4.4 Emergency Support Fund

The United Way Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and the Community Foundations of Canada have received government funding through the Emergency Support Fund to collaboratively support charities and non-profits across the country serving Canadians who are most vulnerable to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19, including members of Indigenous communities.

The funds will support a variety of activities, including those related to food security, such as; increasing volunteer-based home deliveries of groceries and medications; and helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits. For updates on the application process please visit:

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