Inflation: it's elbowing for $5 meals

Food inflation is exploding demand for $5 meals cooked and delivered by an organization that now has to make heartbreaking choices about who to feed first.

Inflation: it's elbowing for $5 meals

Food inflation is exploding demand for $5 meals cooked and delivered by an organization that now has to make heartbreaking choices about who to feed first.

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"There is a gap between people's needs and what we are able to provide," says Cécilia Lessard, director of Carrefour St-Eusèbe, in Montreal.

The woman in her forties sees people going hungry every day. The community organization she runs is dedicated to people aged 50 and over.

It offers, among other things, a service of healthy and balanced meals delivered at home to customers with a loss of autonomy. With soup and dessert, the meal costs $5, which is less than its cost price.

“With inflation, it costs us more to make, about $5.75. But our customers cannot pay more. Already, many seniors are often unable to pay us 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 exceeded, we have to dip into the donations we receive to feed people. I don't know how we are going to continue,” laments Ms. Lessard.

His team also offers a shopping service. Employees and volunteers go to the grocery store or place the order for senior customers.

“When you arrive with their $25 groceries, you can see that 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.

Alarm call

The Carrefour St-Eusèbe is part of the Food Security Round Table, which brings together 10 organizations in the Centre-Sud district of Montreal.

The Table sounded the alarm to Quebec City this week: without increased funding, these organizations will soon no longer be able to feed people in need.

“I often cry, because I have to bear the odiousness of choosing which person to give food aid to: an isolated and vulnerable elder or an elderly person whose undernourishment has led her to have suicidal thoughts. We have reached this point, ”says Cécilia Lessard.

A few blocks from Carrefour St-Eusèbe is the largest food bank in the area, Information Alimentaire Populaire Centre-Sud, which feeds 2,200 people a year.

“Demand is exploding and we have just lost half of our funding. I still have a year of play before making choices, and the first will be to cut my own job, ”illustrates the director, Julien Scott.

Increase in requests in Quebec

In the Quebec region, although food donations have decreased significantly, it is out of the question to establish eligibility criteria for donations and even less to refuse a request for assistance.

At Moisson-Québec, which provides several food banks in the Quebec region, it is indicated that it is out of the question to refuse a request for assistance.

“Yes, there is an increase in requests and a decrease in donations, but we have not reached the point of saying that we refuse anyone, anywhere,” argues Elizabeth Fortin, coordinator to communications.

The organization says it still has food in reserve, but admits that it will eventually need help and, above all, donations.

"I can't see the day when we're going to say: no, we can't help you. We are going to find solutions to meet all the requests,” she concludes.

At La Bouchée Généreuse, "it's an unconditional welcome" that is reserved for anyone who comes to get help.

Pierre Gravel, General Manager, and his daughter Marie-Pierre, Assistant Manager, emphasize that anyone who comes to their premises and needs help will be accepted, regardless of their living conditions.

“Unfortunately, even the middle class, at the moment, is suffering a lot,” laments Ms. Gravel.

Now is the time for solidarity more than ever, even if they face supply challenges.

“We have to work twice as hard to have the same amount of food [to offer],” she concludes.

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