Santropol Roulant is part of an ecosystem of organizations working collectively to create greater access to affordable, nutritious food for diverse communities, striving for food justice and social change in Montreal. When the pandemic hit, the demand for food security services skyrocketed for those in particularly vulnerable situations, including isolation, health concerns, or economic precarity… and the community sector responded.
Today, we want to highlight two organizations, the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK and Partage & Solidarité, who have been doing important work—serving urban Indigenous communities and reducing food waste through redistribution, respectively—and whom we have had the pleasure of collaborating with this year for a deeper impact in our community.
Emergency Food Aid for Indigenous Communities
In April, we were approached by the The Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK, whose mission is to support the ecosystem of individuals and groups committed to improving the quality of life of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in greater Montreal.
The Network, together with The Southern Quebec Inuit Association, Native Montreal, The Native Friendship Centre of Montreal, and the Welcoming Fire Outreach program developed an Emergency Food Aid program to address the growing need for emergency food aid to Indigenous elders, families and individuals facing food insecurity amid COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Santropol Roulant implemented measures to prioritize the safe operation of the Meals-on-Wheels program while increasing production to serve more people in need, which left us with a surplus of nutritious frozen meals no longer being sold to the general public. The potential for partnership was seamless.
Since April, the NETWORK and its volunteers have distributed over 3,500 frozen meals to 40+ households from Lasalle to St. Léonard, including elders, families, and community members who are immunocompromised or facing job loss or economic precarity. On top of this, two other arms of the program have been providing food baskets and grocery gift cards for an even wider reach.
“For a lot of the families… since the pandemic, they couldn’t leave [home], couldn’t get groceries,” explains Demi Vrettas, one of the program coordinators. “Having a cooked meal has been very helpful for them. To have a home cooked meal that makes it feel that somebody cares.”
Similar to the Roulant, there is a social aspect to the deliveries, where volunteers like Hao (pictured above) get the chance to stop and enjoy a conversation. “They love having volunteers visit them,” says Demi.
The program will soon transition into the hands of the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal in the coming year, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with NFCM as well as The NETWORK for many years to come.
Interested in volunteering to deliver frozen meals? Reach out to Demi by email email@example.com
Fighting the Food Waste Fight
Another important community link emerged this spring as a direct result of Covid-19. Partage & Solidarité is an organization in Montreal with the mission of decreasing food waste by recuperating food that would otherwise be thrown out from companies and organizations, and redistributing to populations in need.
This year, Partage & Solidarité reacted to the challenges posed by the pandemic by adapting the terms and locations of its distributions to remain accessible to those who needed support more than ever. And as businesses began to shut down, and the implications on individual food security and collective food waste became clear, they began to reach out to find new partners.
“Our baskets change a lot from week to week… a stable partnership like the one with the Roulant is invaluable to us.” Fred Morellato, Partage & Solidarité
The small team and volunteers stocks up on grocery items and pre-prepared food, that would otherwise be deemed unsellable, and distribute three times a week for a total of 1,200 food baskets per month. These baskets benefit a diversity of people, from students to seniors, and those in precarious social or financial situations in Plateau Mont-Royal and surrounding areas. Santropol Roulant has been able to provide 2,000 frozen meals and 1,850 veggies baskets full of local, organic produce from the Roulant’s urban gardens.
This fall, Partage & Solidarité launched a petition addressed to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to prohibit food waste, require businesses to adopt food waste reduction strategies, and invest in infrastructure and in eco-responsible education.
Become a part of the team or volunteer your time by contacting Fred at firstname.lastname@example.org