Food insecurity1 in Quebec seems to be reaching new heights and food banks in Quebec are seeing a historic increase in requests. Some even claim to lack food. Paradoxically, we have never heard so much about food waste. This to such an extent that our elected officials recently debated the usefulness of legislating to help counter it.
Welcome Hall Mission is the biggest gateway to helping Montrealers in need. As such, it operates two free grocery stores located in Montreal North and Saint-Henri, which serve more than 7,000 people each week. This corresponds to the distribution of more than 1.5 million tons of food annually, 75% of which consists of perishable products.
Of course, a portion comes from agreements with businesses for the recovery of foodstuffs. This is an essential link to supply emergency breakdown services, in addition to being environmentally friendly. In addition, a significant proportion is also purchased to help meet the scale of the needs, in the time required.
Thus, these impressive figures place us at the forefront of this reality, its possibilities and its limits.
What surprises me first is that this association between the two issues is not part of the debate.
Let me put forward the following hypothesis: what if we “organized” our recovery\redistribution network more to avoid waste while adequately meeting needs? First of all, operating a food bank requires organization and infrastructure in itself. Instead of multiplying small efforts, let’s think big to make food available quickly and in sufficient quantity to those who need it. To do this, let’s promote an articulated and supplied network so as to minimize waste at the same time.
Unfortunately, our efforts today are too often haphazard. We operate hundreds of food counters within community organizations for which these are complementary activities, because the people in need whom they help on other fronts also sometimes need emergency food aid. It would be more useful to refer these people to organizations equipped to provide free groceries and connected to efficient recovery networks.
That being said, we must still collectively guard against wishful thinking: while food recovery and the prevention of waste are both noble and essential, hunger will not be solved by legislating or organizing more. Services. On the other hand, let’s agree that between the two we can do better to waste less and meet the growing number of pressing needs.
It should also be noted that poverty is at the root of food insecurity. If we succeed in reducing poverty, we will reduce hunger. Of course, that is another discussion.
In the meantime, I think I have found part of my answer: let’s build a better collective conscience together. Let us provide substantial support to organizations whose central part of their mission is to operate a food bank. By doing so, we will certainly have a more effective social project than dealing with our issues in silos. This definitely seems to me to guarantee better long-term results than a simple bill.