Montreal community groups struggle to provide essential groceries amid food inflation

Every Saturday, Leonora Indira King delivers inexpensive Indian meals cooked by women with precarious finances to the residents of Parc-Extension.

The community organizer and founder of Collectif Parc-Ex Curry created in April the mutual aid and catering service to help women recently immigrated to Canada to acquire financial autonomy by showcasing their culinary talents.

“You see all kinds of scenarios and people in need,” she said.

As Canadians prepare for soaring food prices and the threat of a new variant of COVID-19, community groups fear they will not be able to foot the bill for clients’ nutritional needs in the months to come.

Pascal Thériault, agricultural economist and director of the agricultural management and technology program at McGill University, says Canadians enjoyed relatively low food costs until the pandemic disrupted the country’s supply chain.

“Everyone in Canada is paying the price for less efficiency,” he said.

Lower the costs

Although there is not much that Quebeckers can do individually to counter inflation, Thériault suggests buying local food products whenever possible to help businesses reinvest in the community. Skipping processed and prepackaged foods is another way to cut costs.

“Because the food was so cheap, we lost the habit of taking the time to cook,” he said.

“One way to avoid food inflation as a consumer is to get away from those habits and take this [time] compromise, because it can also be fun to know all the ingredients you are using. ”

But not everyone has the luxury of choosing.

“COVID has shown us that and that the extra costs will definitely put more people into our food banks,” Sharon Nelson, senior vice president of the Jamaica Association, told CBC’s Daybreak.

“You want to help people survive… and most of their income is spent on rent. “

She and Michael Labelle, chairman of the board of the West Island Assistance Fund, urge donors to transfer funds directly to community groups and clarify the purpose of the donation, rather than buying canned goods and other products from basis to be given.

“If you notice what the manufacturers are doing, they are reducing the size of the packages,” Labelle said. “They try to keep the prices stable but they give you less.”

“We have access to wholesale pricing,” Labelle said. “The other thing is, if you donate to us, you get a tax credit.”

Pay next

Since May, King has expanded the service to allow customers to order meals for families in Parc-Extension in need.

When she realized that many women were passionate cooks, they took turns hosting online cooking shows before eventually starting a catering business, which gives women the opportunity to cook at home and earn a living. income while staying with their family.

The Parc-Ex Curry Collective employs women who have recently arrived in Canada in search of financial independence. (Submitted by Leonora Indira King)

“Financial independence was particularly important for these women because of the challenges they face in their personal lives and they face many barriers to employment.”

Although orders have been steady, she expects them to jump in the new year as vulnerable residents take the brunt of food inflation.

“[The collective] isn’t just Uber Eats – we’re in touch with you as well and visit you on more than one occasion, ”she said.

“All of the chefs are vegetarians so it’s one less expense, but we’re just trying to do as much as possible.”

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