Montreal food depot faces unprecedented demand amid rising costs

The Depot Community Food Centre, a non-profit organization that provides food assistance and education to people in need, is struggling to cope with the surge in demand for its services. The centre has had to turn away some people and reduce the size of its food baskets due to the limited resources and donations.

The Depot serves over 2,000 people every month

The Depot, formerly known as the NDG Food Depot, has been operating since 1986 in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montreal. It offers a variety of programs, such as emergency food baskets, affordable markets, community meals, cooking workshops, gardening activities, and advocacy campaigns.

Montreal food depot faces unprecedented demand amid rising costs
Montreal food depot faces unprecedented demand amid rising costs

According to its executive director, Tasha Lackman, the demand for the Depot’s services has spiked since May 2021. The centre is now serving over 2,000 people every month through its emergency program alone, which is double the number from previous years. Many of the new clients are people who have jobs but still cannot afford to buy enough food for themselves and their families.

The Depot faces challenges due to rising costs and fewer donations

The Depot is facing several challenges that are affecting its ability to meet the growing demand. One of them is the rising cost of living, especially food prices, which have increased by 4.1 per cent in Canada in the past year. Another challenge is the difficulty in hiring and retaining staff, as well as recruiting volunteers, due to the pandemic and the labour shortage. A third challenge is the decrease in donations from its usual providers, such as grocery stores and food distributors.

To cope with these challenges, the Depot has had to make some tough decisions. It has increased its budget by half a million dollars this year, but it still cannot serve everyone who needs help. It has also had to cut the size of its food baskets by a third, and limit the frequency of visits from twice a month to once a month for each client.

The Depot calls for more government support and public awareness

The Depot is not alone in facing these challenges. According to a report by Les Banques alimentaires du Québec (BAQ), the network of food banks in Quebec, the demand for food assistance has increased by 20 per cent in the province in the past year, reaching 2.2 million requests every month. Two-thirds of the network members reported that they did not receive enough stock from their regular providers.

The Depot and BAQ are calling for more government support and public awareness to address the issue of food insecurity, which affects one in eight Canadians. They are asking for more funding, better social policies, and more sustainable solutions to reduce poverty and hunger. They are also urging people to donate money or food, or volunteer their time and skills, to help their local food banks.

The Depot is preparing for the worst in the coming months, as it expects more people will need its services due to the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. It is trying to be creative and innovative in finding ways to help its community. It is also hoping that more people will join its mission to improve food security and social inclusion for everyone.

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