Struggling to meet rising demand, Montreal food bank forced to turn people away
Posted October 7, 2023 12:23 pm.
Last Updated October 7, 2023 9:55 pm.
As Thanksgiving approaches, more and more people are relying on food banks in Montreal.
NDG’s Depot Community Food Centre is struggling to help families and those in need as demand increases.
“Every day, we have people who come in just for a free meal. And the frequency of people coming in has gone from maybe once or twice a week to four days a week,” said Renate Betts, the food bank’s manager.
“It’s first time we’ve had to tell people you cannot have an appointment for an emergency food basket. And that’s usually a service that people need because it supplements their supermarket budget. This is the stuff that helps them get it to the end of the month. These are the basics that help them feed their kids, make school lunches, and we’re just not able anymore to accommodate them.”
Betts says the Depot Community Food Centre used to receive on average 150 clients a day. A sharp jump since April – with those in need coming in more often than ever – has left the depot’s restaurant staff overworked, she says.
“We’re serving something like 50, 70 more people a day,” said Betts. “That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s every single day. So, if you think about it, it’s close to 280 people extra every week that we are having to find space for and find meals for.”
“A lot of people nowadays aren’t making it,” added Sebastian Britton, a chef at the Depot Community Food Centre. “This is where our services are needed more than ever. But unfortunately, the demand has become so high, we’re struggling to keep up.”
Food shortage isn’t the problem. Betts says the bigger issue in Montreal – much like in other parts of the country – is the significant increase in grocery prices and the cost of living.
“People have to make compromises between being able to afford an apartment that is overpriced or being able to buy food that is also, frankly, overpriced,” she said.