New data showing huge increase in food bank use is no surprise in NDG

A survey that showed a huge uptick in food bank use in Quebec came as no surprise to the people who have been manning Montreal’s food banks.

Nor did another troubling number, said Daniel Rotman of the NDG Food Depot: that more than half of the people surveyed said they wouldn’t be comfortable admitting to friends or family that they’d gone to a food bank.

“That’s not a surprising statistic,” Rotman told CTV News.

“We see, in the best of times, that most people who do need access to emergency food don’t come, many times…because of the stigma.”

The number is significant because there are so many first-time food bank users in the pandemic. Nearly one in 10 of all Quebecers had used a food bank since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the survey by Synopsis Research Marketing.

And about half of those were doing so for the first time ever.

“That’s a bit shocking. It’s a new reality,” said Youri Rivest of the research group.

However, it was already clear to those on the front lines that things were changing fast. At the NDG food bank, more than 5,000 people have already received emergency food baskets just in the last two months, said Rotman. Last year it was only about 4,600 for the entire year.

The Food Depot has had to temporarily move its operation to the Doug Harvey arena. Handling food is also much more complicated now, in an age of limiting infection, said Rotman.

The important thing to remember, he said, is there’s no shame in using a food bank, especially at a time of widespread economic crisis.

“Any person could end up on either side of the table,” is the NDG food bank’s mantra.

Food banks across the province are also, of course, asking for cash donations to help meet the new, huge demand.

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