Meals banks within the Montreal space are struggling to satisfy demand and are calling for volunteers for the summer season

Food banks around the Montreal area have been in full swing since Quebec began to shut down in March, and now they’re sounding the alarm – volunteers are needed this summer as demand continues.

Moisson Montréal, the city’s largest food bank, which stores the shelves of around 250 local organizations, distributed 30 percent more food in April and May than at the same time last year.

In June demand rose by a further 10 percent.

That means Moisson Montréal delivered more than 1.3 million kilograms of food to community groups in June this year, compared to 905,000 kilograms in June 2019.

In the past three months, Moisson Montréal has spent $ 29 million on groceries – $ 8 million more than at this time last year.

Now the holiday season begins and that is usually when volunteers stop showing up to help, said the organization’s director Richard Daneau.

“We are concerned that we may be missing some volunteers in the coming weeks,” he said.

Daneau is asking anyone staying in the area this summer to volunteer as help is needed to ensure that food continues to be distributed to local organizations.

Depot in NDG registers increasing demand

The Depot Community Food Center in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce reports a 30 to 50 percent increase in inquiries in the last three months.

The situation was made even more difficult by the need to keep a safe distance between volunteers, staff and customers due to COVID-19.

The organization moved to the Doug Harvey Arena on May 1 and has been operating outside of the facility ever since, delivering door-to-door emergency grocery baskets.

Daniel Rotman, executive director of the Depot Community Food Center, says the demand for emergency food aid has grown significantly. (Matt D’Amours / CBC)

“It’s full every day,” said the depot’s manager Daniel Rotman. “When COVID first appeared, we saw requests for grocery baskets almost double. That has calmed down a bit since then.”

About 3,000 new customers have signed up for emergency food aid, he said. Usually the depot serves around 4,500 people a year.

“Demand remains very high,” said Rotman.

At the depot, Rotman said they have already spent their annual grocery budget and are now desperate for cash donations.

“Great uncertainties” ahead of us

Daneau said those seeking help are very diverse. Organizations see couples who have both lost their jobs, young people living on the federal emergency relief program, and seniors staying at home during the pandemic.

“How long will it take? Will demand keep growing? Those are the big uncertainties,” said Daneau.

As far as he can tell, it won’t get any better anytime soon, given the COVID-19 situation and the economic downturn it has caused, he said.

“I don’t want to play the prophet of doom, but we have to admit it won’t go away next month,” said Daneau.

It’s not all grim, however. Food donations have increased in the past few weeks.

“We suspect that the additional food available, for example, comes mainly from closed hotels and closed restaurants,” he said.

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