Townships faces high rates of food insecurity, reveals 2023 Hunger Report
By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
The battle against hunger intensifies in the Eastern Townships, with the region witnessing an unprecedented spike in food insecurity. A new Hunger Report for 2023 indicates that organizations combating hunger in the Townships have seen their numbers rise dramatically by 67 per cent since 2019. Seven related community organization leaders held a press conference on the issue Oct. 25 at Moisson Estrie in Sherbrooke.
Of concern is the increase in children affected by this crisis. There has been a 73 per cent rise in hungry children since 2019, with a 14 per cent jump from the previous year alone.
With surging demands, community organizations, notably those like Moisson Estrie and Moisson Granby, are feeling the pressure. Economic challenges, including the rising cost of living, heightened interest rates, soaring food prices, and escalating housing costs, are pushing more people towards food assistance. There’s been a 36 per cent surge in individuals seeking help, individuals who, until very recently, were managing without such assistance.
While the data paints a grim picture, the community’s resilience is evident. Over the last five years, there’s been a 31 per cent increase in food donations, and organizations have upped their purchasing budgets by 15 per cent. Yet, the needs far outweigh the available resources.
Looking forward, community stakeholders are taking proactive steps. A significant regional conference is scheduled for Nov. 2, bringing together over a hundred partners from across the nine MRCs. They aim to strategize and develop actionable plans to combat the challenges of food supply and distribution.
Christian Bibeau, General Director of Moisson Estrie, presided over a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the issue of food insecurity. He thanked the other organization leaders who were present, and who are “on the ground” facing these challenges day-to-day, for speaking out.