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Bare shelves in Resolute
Community's sole grocery store runs low on food due to 'communication issues'

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, August 4, 2011

QAUSUITTUQ/RESOLUTE
The shelves of the Tudjaat Co-op in Resolute are nearly bare and have been for some time, according to residents.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Tudjaat Co-op in Resolute the hamlet's only grocery store -- has gone weeks with no milk, no cheese, no yogurt, no eggs, no toilet paper, no dishwashing liquid, and little meat or produce. Residents say they're getting by on cup-a-soup, crackers and canned fruit. An official from Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. said they are helping the co-op prepare orders and get product in the store. - photo courtesy of Sheeba Nangmalik

"There is absolutely nothing there," said resident Sheeba Nangmalik. "We have a little bit of cereal on the shelves but there is no milk, no eggs, no vegetables, nothing. It's been like that all July. We get a little bit of it but it's gone in just an hour and some people don't get there in time and it's all gone. Whatever is there, we have been buying them but there is no meat. We haven't eaten meat in a long time now."

The co-op is the only grocery store in the community with a population of 229 in the 2006 census.

Nangmalik said they've been eating whatever is on the shelves cup-a-soup, crackers, "canned fruit that are expired," but it's "not very good."

There is also no toilet paper or dishwashing liquid, she added. Somebody has to do something, said Nangmalik, so she posted photos of the co-op's bare shelves on Facebook.

To walk into the store is just "awful" because there is "absolutely nothing," said Irene Eckalook.

"I do have kids so the fruits and the vegetables are a necessity. If it wasn't for my father sending us food from Iqaluit, we wouldn't have anything to eat," she said.

"It's hard to get any milk. Hard to get any bread. Hard to get any fruit. To get a bag of grapes is $12.58 for less than a kilogram that are half rotten. So, it's just really, really awful right now."

It hasn't gotten to the point that people are going hungry, she added, as there is canned fruit, canned stews, cup-a-soup and a small variety of meat and produce for sale. And residents share food if they can, said Eckalook.

"This year is particularly bad for not getting any food. This is the worst it has ever gotten," she said.

Rod Wilson, vice-president of member management services at Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., said they started getting information about shortage of product at the Tudjaat Co-op in the latter part of the last week of July.

To try and rectify the situation, Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. sent the area manager for Baffin to Resolute to help the Tudjaat Co-op prepare orders and get inventory back up, he said.

The area manager has already placed orders and products should start coming in throughout the week of Aug. 1, he added.

Several factors contributed to this situation, one being lack of resupply, said Wilson.

"In this particular situation, the general manager had been away from the community for several weeks and there were some communication issues in terms of placing the orders and unfortunately, orders were not being placed to meet the needs of the co-op," he said.

"It's not something that happens very often. We're very concerned for the residents of the community. We're very concerned that product wasn't getting to the co-operative but it's not something that should happen again."

He confirmed the general manager is not returning to the community.

The co-op is responsible to order the products for their store while ACL's role is to assist any way they can, he said. To ensure this does not happen again, Arctic Co-operatives will work with the Tudjaat Co-op to ensure regular orders are prepared and the store is not dependent on one person to physically do the orders, said Wilson.

Ron Elliott, the MLA for Quttiktuq, said the food shortage at the co-op is a "critical issue."

"It's amazing how empty the store looks," he said, looking at the photos. "It looks like a store that went out of business."

People on income support are being particularly hit hard, he said, as they don't get cash for their social assistance cheque. Rather, they have to bring it to the co-op to buy food.

"There aren't very many jobs for some people so they do have to rely on social assistance or other family members to be able to buy food, but when you can't even go to the store..." he said.

"From the pictures I was looking at, I didn't see any milk. I didn't see any cheese. I didn't see any yogurt. I didn't even see any Similac or some Pampers and you just wonder what do people do when you don't have these things on the shelves. It's a community that's suffering."

While travelling to Grise Fiord and Resolute, Elliott said he has seen the limited selection of groceries those communities have. Normally, fresh produce is limited and the choices are limited, he said, adding that for a smaller community with a smaller store, that's expected.

"But what I see in the photographs is not right. There's nothing. There's nothing on the shelves," he said.

Elliott said it's not the first time there have been problems with the management at the Co-op in Resolute and he has talked to ACL about the issue.

"They've assured me everything will be taken care of but I don't take much stock in that," he said. "This is not the first time it has happened where there is very little supplies on the shelves."

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