Coronavirus: Montreal to lend employees to food bank as it deals with shortage of volunteers

The City of Montreal announced Tuesday new measures to mitigate the impact of novel coronavirus, especially on the city’s most vulnerable.

Mayor Valérie Plante said the city has identified additional facilities that could provide accommodations for the homeless if the need arises.

More pressing, however, is keeping community agencies supplied with food.

“As the situation evolves, the need of food banks as well as those of vulnerable families are increasing,” Plante said.

To that effect, Plante announced the city will be lending employees to Moisson Montreal, the country’s largest food bank, as well as providing logistical support for food delivery, in terms of transportation and access to locations that can serve as drop-off points.

“We will prioritize employees normally deployed in facilities currently closed to the public,” she said, thanking the blue collar workers’ union for facilitating the move.

Moisson Montréal’s executive director Richard Daneau welcomed the news.

“Our role is to gather food and give it for free to community agencies that are fighting hunger in the city,” he said.

“In order to do that, we have roughly 50 employees and we need 85 volunteers on a daily basis.”

Daneau explained that most volunteers come from corporations but they’ve been in short supply with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.

“With the directives we’ve got, most of those people are staying home and are not coming to help us,” he said.

Daneau said he was grateful for the city’s help in addressing the labour shortage, as the situation could get worse.

“It makes a huge difference, we sincerely believe that the people that are facing hunger today, will not be in a better position next week,” he said.

Daneau estimates there are roughly 160,000 people annually who get their food from community agencies and around 36 per cent of those are under the age of 18.

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