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‘People out there need help’: Demand growing at West Island food banks

Click to play video: 'Pointe-Claire waking up to hunger in affluent community' Pointe-Claire waking up to hunger in affluent community
WATCH: A new assessment shows that people in Montreal’s West Island are relying on food banks more than ever. Global's Tim Sargeant tagged along as Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere paid a visit to Moisson Montreal, the city’s food bank – Feb 6, 2019

Take a look around Moisson Montreal and at first glance, you might think it’s some sort of production plant or assembly line.

But the finely-tuned sorting centre is a food bank.

“We do make a significant difference in the lives of people,” executive director Richard Daneau told Global News.

READ MORE: West Island Assistance Fund implements new screening for food basket recipients

As the distribution centre for other food banks on the Island, Moisson Montréal distribution centre is in the business of helping out other charity organizations — and the need is enormous.
Last year alone, 16 million kg of food were distributed, to the tune of $86 million.

“We’re very fortunate to be in that chain of help,” Daneau said. “Community help.”

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WATCH: Donations needed in Montreal now more than ever

Click to play video: 'Donations needed now more than ever' Donations needed now more than ever
Donations needed now more than ever – Jan 7, 2019

West Island Mission is one of the beneficiaries of Moisson Montreal, which provides free food to those in need in the West Island. There, too, the demand is growing.

“In 2018, we took on 100 new families,” operational manager Wendy Gariepy told Global News. A lot of the demand, she says, is coming from newly arrived refugees as they settle into Canada.
But there is also a large number of school children who are going without food.

“That’s the saddest part — is that children are going to school not eating,” Gariepy said.

In fact, a new study by Food Banks Canada reveals that 35 per cent of children in Quebec are being served by food banks. The growing need for food and other basic provisions is what motivated some city councillors to visit Moisson Montreal’s massive warehouse Wednesday afternoon, including Pointe-Claire councillor Cynthia Homan.

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“I’m really like a kid in a candy store,” Homan said. “I’m so thrilled to see how it all gets done.”

READ MORE: New documentary shines light on hidden issue of food insecurity in West Island

There is also a large percentage of senior citizens who live in Pointe-Claire, some of whom struggle to make ends meet as they live on fixed incomes.

“A group of people out there need help,” Pointe-Claire mayor John Belvedere told Global News. “Thirty-two percent of our population are seniors.”

Sometimes Gariepy wishes there was no need for her to run a food bank. But knowing that her organization is helping out so many who have so little, she says really wouldn’t want any other job.

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