Food banks: heartbreaking choices

Food banks: heartbreaking choices

Food banks of the Family Support Center (CEAF), during the pandemic.

Due to inflation, food banks on the island of Montreal are under such pressure that they are forced to place some clients on a waiting list.

Alfredo Ferdinand, an asylum seeker who arrived in Canada on September 11 with his wife and three children, receives a $1,400 allowance from the federal government. He and his wife are not yet working.

After spending two months in a hotel in Laval, at government expense, Mr. Ferdinand found an apartment in Montreal North. The rent costs him $975 a month.

“I have $425 left to feed three children,” he points out, “and I still have to pay for electricity and other expenses.”


The father of the family says he has to turn to food banks in his neighborhood, such as Les Fourchettes de l'espoir. But with the influx of new arrivals that Quebec and mainly Montreal has experienced, places are becoming very limited.

Wait to eat

“New arrivals, we can't always help them all because it's a lot for us. We do what we can,” says the director of the food aid organization Les Forks of Hope, Brunilda Reyes.

Ms. Reyes says she has established a waiting list in the face of request. Every week about twenty people have to wait to receive something to eat. Due to the rising cost of living, requests for breakdown assistance have jumped 20%, Ms. Reyes finds.

With the pandemic, we started to see people we had never seen before in food banks, let's say new customers who stayed, observes the head of the organization,  because with inflation they couldn't get by.

Brunilda Reyes, Director of Forks of Hope

The rising cost of living has driven up spending by 15% organization that believes that the $6 million in aid from the Quebec government is timely.

Inflation not only has a major impact on food assistance, but also on meals on wheels. There are two in Montréal-Nord, one of which is associated with Les Fourches de l'espoir.

“We serve 160 people every day with a hot meal at home for $5. , but currently we are increasing them by one dollar”, deplores Ms. Reyes.

It is not comparable, it costs us more expensive mixed with the shortage personnel 

Paul Evra, director of the Lassalien Center in Saint-Michel.

His organization manages, among other things, a collective kitchen in the neighborhood. Inflation has led him to make choices and redirect the service offer to a more vulnerable clientele, according to him.

“Before it was more open, but now we have to make choices. The choice is to focus more on newcomers whose situation is more problematic. We must do less,” says Mr. Evra.

He too believes that the aid announced by the government will greatly help organizations to get by.

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