Eating Is Not a Hobby -- Public Letter from Social Organizations

Who Can Still Eat?

When the more affluent in our society worry and change their eating habits in the face of staggering inflation of 8.1 per cent in June 2022 and exploding food prices, what happens to Mr. and Mrs. Everybody?[1] Who can find it normal to pay more than $8 for a pound of butter?

Citizens are not the only ones to be confronted with this aberration. Community organizations that come to their aid have rarely been so called upon. More and more people are knocking on the doors of our organizations, which are also at their wit's end, because the means to respond to these solicitations are limited: lack of human resources (volunteers or employees), cost of operation and to this is now added the disproportionate cost of food.

The demand for access to food has changed in recent months, both in terms of the cost of food and in people's ability to supply themselves. This last resort assistance is now compulsory to balance, as much as possible, the family budget. Before this inflationary increase, groups could work miracles with tight budgets, now it's downright impossible.

Food insecurity is increasing and the means to respond to it are insufficient.

While Mr. and Mrs. Everybody are anxious in the grocery store, the profits of big food companies are increasing and reaching great heights.[2] Is this the society we want? Could we not sit down together to put in place fair solutions, because the impacts of these price increases are catastrophic? In addition to considerably undermining the already very low purchasing power of citizens, inflation imposes heartbreaking decisions. What can we pay this month? What is left for electricity, rent, clothes, medicine?

When, insidiously, the fridge empties and the stove cries famine, the citizens, even animated with the best intentions, often find themselves helpless when their income is not enough to fill the pantry. For too many people, regardless of their social status, the perennial question "What's for supper?" turns into the ugly reality: "Are we eating supper?"

During this election period, promises of tax cuts or sporadic sending of cheques will have little impact on individuals and even less on the community. The future government should rather give priority to structural social measures such as an increase in the minimum wage, social assistance, social solidarity and retirement benefits, etc. Unlike candy vouchers, these measures could make a difference for the most vulnerable people in our society, allowing us to face the increase in the cost of food with a little more optimism. 

Currently, community organizations seem to be the only ones taking this dire situation seriously by putting in place solutions allowing citizens to retain power over their lives and to be treated with dignity. The signatories of this letter invite the political parties to come sit down with them to share their proven strategies while making sure they have the means to endure.

Recognition of the right to food is essential to enable everyone to feed themselves appropriately based on these four components: accessibility, adequacy, sustainability and food availability.

At the time of publishing this letter, we are deeply disappointed to note that the right to food is not a priority for any political party. If the parties are concerned about the well-being of the population, as they claim, this basic need should be a priority and measures making it possible should be proposed.

The future of society as a whole is at stake.

Josée Poirier Defoy
Quebec Collective Kitchens Association (RCCQ)

Isabelle Lachance
Meals on Wheels Association (RPR)

André Guérard
Quebec Association of Community Centres for Seniors (AQCCA)

Michel Alexandre Cauchon
Federation of Volunteer Centres of Quebec (FCABQ)

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 24 - October 3, 2022

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