(Montreal) The Quebec budget leaves food banks hungry at a time when they have never had so many mouths to feed. A large gap persists between the new amounts granted by the Legault government and the needs estimated by community organizations in the field.

In a pre-budget consultation, the Food Banks of Quebec (BAQ) requested one-time emergency assistance of $24 million due to soaring food prices. The association also asked to improve the annual recurring funding of 5 million.

The budget, unveiled on Tuesday, provides instead for an additional annual aid of 2 million. “It is clearly insufficient, deplores the general manager, Martin Munger, in an interview. I have serious fears about the course of the year 2023. I think there will be queues for baskets that are too small for people who are food insecure. »

“Ambivalent” in relation to the budget, Mr. Munger nevertheless underlines the granting of an envelope of 5 million over four years to finance the infrastructure of food banks, exactly the amount requested by BAQ.

Soaring food inflation is putting a double strain on food bank operations. The food they distribute costs more at a time when more households need help.

Before the pandemic, nearly 500,000 people visited a food bank in Quebec each month. In 2022, that number jumped to 671,000, according to the latest HungerCount, which is based on data collected in March 2022. Munger expects ridership to be even higher in 2023.