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N.L. raises Labrador air foodlift subsidies

Residents of Labrador’s north and south coast and straits will see an average increase of 10 per cent in provincial subsidies paid on a revised list of “more nutritious” foods shipped to them by air.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government on Monday said it will boost the Air Foodlift Subsidy (AFS) rate to 80 per cent starting this regular AFS season.
But the province’s Labrador and aboriginal affairs and health and community services departments have also revised the list of foods eligible for the subsidy, “to reflect more nutritious items.”

“The cost of shipping perishable and nutritious goods by air to isolated coastal communities is significant and this government is proud to take further steps to offset these costs,” said John Hickey, the province’s minister for Labrador affairs, in Monday’s release.

The AFS program is meant to ensure people living in the eligible areas “have access to wholesome, nutritious foods at a reasonable cost,” said Patty Pottle, the province’s aboriginal affairs minister.

The province in July expanded the AFS program to subsidize select perishable fruits, vegetables and dairy products during the marine shipping season for north coast communities, Black Tickle, Norman Bay and William’s Harbour.

The province in its 2008 budget raised yearly AFS program funding by 50 per cent, to $600,000. “As well, the funding enabled the provincial government to introduce a full air freight subsidy on fresh milk,” the province noted.

The revised list of AFS-eligible foods includes both fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits and grain products including fresh breads, buns, bagels and flours. It also includes sandwich meats and fresh and frozen meat and fish, except for battered, breaded, deep-fried, cured and sauce-covered types.

The AFS also covers, among other items, most dairy products such as milk, cheeses, butter, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream, and alternatives such as soy milk and margarine; fresh eggs and egg substitutes; all baby foods and formula; light varieties of mayonnaise and salad dressings; and “calorie-reduced” frozen entrees.

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