Food inflation is exploding demand for $5 meals prepared and delivered by an organization that must now make heartbreaking decisions about who to feed first.
• Also read: The race for survival for some, expensive parties for others
“There is a gap between what people need and what we can provide,” says Cécilia Lessard, director of Carrefour St-Eusèbe in Montreal.
The woman in her 40s sees people go hungry every day. The community organization she leads is dedicated to people aged 50 and over.
Among other things, it offers a service of healthy and balanced meals delivered to the home of customers with limited autonomy. With soup and dessert, the meal is $5 less than cost price.
“With inflation, that costs us more: about $5.75. But our customers can’t pay more. Many seniors are already unable to pay at the end of the month,” explains the director.
The program’s current budget provides meals for 70 people. But it could easily be double that.
“Our budget is over, we have to rely on the donations we receive to feed the people. I don’t know how to proceed,” laments Ms. Lessard.
His team also offers a shopping service. Staff and volunteers go to the grocery store or place the order for seniors.
“When you arrive with your $25 groceries, you can see it’s not enough. So we give them free meals on top of that. The demand is everywhere, the budget is exploding,” adds the director.
Carrefour St-Eusèbe is part of the Food Security Round Table, which brings together 10 organizations in Montreal’s Centre-Sud district.
The Table sent out a cry of alarm in Quebec City this week: These organizations will soon be unable to feed those in need.
“I often cry because I have to endure the disgust of deciding who to give food aid to: an isolated and vulnerable senior, or an elderly person whose malnutrition has led to suicidal thoughts. We have arrived at this point,” says Cécilia Lessard.
A few blocks from Carrefour St-Eusèbe you’ll find the area’s largest panel, Information Alimentaire Populaire Centre-Sud, which feeds 2,200 people a year.
“Demand is exploding and we’ve just lost half of our funding. I still have a year of play before I make any decisions, and the first will be to cut my own position,” exemplifies director Julien Scott.
Resource depletion is also occurring in Quebec. “There’s an increase in requests and a decrease in donations,” argues Elizabeth Fortin, communications coordinator for Moisson-Québec.
The organization says it still has food in reserve, but acknowledges that it will eventually need help, especially donations.
– With the collaboration of Catherine Bouchard
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