Food banks struggle to meet increased demand

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Food banks are struggling to meet the increase in demand

According to Martin Munger, Executive Director of Food Banks of Quebec, the demand for commodities has grown by 50% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's “unheard of,” he says.

Moisson Montreal, which supplies more than 300 community organizations, is experiencing very strong demand during this period rise in inflation.

According to Statistics Canada, the price of food purchased in stores rose 9.7% in May, compared to a year ago. “It's huge, and people are finding it more and more difficult to eat properly,” laments Martin Munger, general manager of Food Banks of Quebec, where the effects of inflation are increasingly felt. feel more.

Demand is up 50% from a normal year, he continues, that is before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Munger, this worsening hunger and food insecurity is linked to the consumer price index (CPI), which rose 8.1% in June, year-on-year.

For months, food banks have been meeting the needs of a growing number of low-income workers, Munger continues. These are people who have regular employment income and who, despite that, cannot make ends meet.

And there are also the employment insurance recipients: Before, with this check, we could do it, but people can't do it anymore, that's what those who are telling us are telling us. in the field.

Finally, students also use it, as in Rimouski or even La Pocatière, explains Mr. Munger.

“People are increasingly coming to food banks to supplement their groceries, and they are coming more frequently too. Households are currently experiencing great distress. »

— Martin Munger, Executive Director of Food Banks of Quebec

But now food banks themselves are struggling: Rising inflation is driving up their costs operating. You can buy less food for the same dollar, and the cost of gasoline – for the trucks carrying that food – goes up too, says Martin Munger.

Also, the labor shortage, which plagues all sectors, does not help. To remain competitive, food banks have improved the working conditions of their employees.

But unlike businesses, which can raise prices to absorb their losses, food banks cannot increase anything. We donate the food, argues Martin Munger. It's a loss that we fully assume.

Businesses, producers, processors and supermarkets are also coping with the rising cost of living. Food donations to food banks are affected. They manage their inventory better, have fewer losses and therefore donate less to food banks, says Mr. Munger.

In this difficult environment, cash donations are more welcome than ever , he says.

Maggie Borowiec, director of philanthropic development at Moisson Montreal, also calls on the population to show solidarity.

Because times are tough for this charity that supplies more than 300 community organizations with food. There, too, demand is on the rise: [Organizations] take everything you give them, there's nothing left, she says.

The primary mission of these neighborhood organizations is not necessarily to meet food needs, explains Ms. Borowiec. They deal with education, employment or immigrant integration. Their clienteles are diverse: seniors, homeless people, young families, etc.

During the first quarter of 2021 (April-May-June), Moisson Montreal had distributed just over 3.4 million kilograms of food. During the same period this year, the organization distributed roughly the same amount of food. But it is insufficient as the demand is strong. We have not succeeded in increasing what we give to organizations, deplores Ms. Borowiec.

To meet the needs, Moisson Montreal draws on its reserves, which are considerable: its warehouses have 484 pallets full of products. But this pantry is not inexhaustible.

The Moisson Montreal warehouse has impressive stocks. But, these days, the organization is seeing them drop due to the crying needs felt by a growing number of Montreal households in a situation of food insecurity.

Moisson Montreal is asking large food suppliers to give what they can. Summer is a great time to donate, says Maggie Borowiec, and not just around the holidays! Our drivers are ready to pick up the food.

The call is also made to grocers. Their contribution represents only 17% of the food donations made to Moisson Montréal. But supermarkets donate meat, valuable protein for food-insecure households. Supermarkets are being asked to freeze surplus meat, Borowiec says. The quantities may not be huge, but they are significant.

According to the 2021 Hunger Count, a study conducted by Food Banks Canada and published last June, food bank users are:

  • 33% children;
  • adults living alone at 46%;
  • recipients of social assistance or disability supports at 50%.
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    In addition, 23% of Canadians say they eat less than they should and 61% believe that the cost of housing is the main factor leading to food insecurity in the country.

    This summer will be the toughest ever for food banks in Canada, predicts Kirstin Beardsley, CEO of Food Banks Canada.

    As of March 2021, Canadian food banks had over 1.3 million visits, up 20% from March 2019.

    With informed them by Camille Ferensen

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