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Australians volunteer to help feed Montreal’s poor and families

September 27th, 2017 | | Uncategorized

WYSE Travel Confederation have a long-standing tradition of giving back to the community which hosts the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC). Each year delegates volunteer their first morning to a local project or organisation. In Cape Town 2015 volunteers planted trees, while in Belgrade 2016 the group helped repaint a refugee centre.

In 2017 that project organisation was Moisson Montréal, a food bank providing food aid to over 137,000 people each month, nearly 45,000 of whom are children.

Moisson Montreal is the largest food bank in Canada. This is due to 29% of families living here have a household income under the minimum wage. Yet very few of the food recipients are homeless (no more than 1%) and 49% of people asking for help are working, they just run short of money by the end of the month.

So, 247 registered charities collect food from Moisson Montreal (based at a warehouse near the airport) on a regular basis and a further 55 organisations on the island of Montréal receive ad hoc assistance. This creates an active 658,000 food requests on behalf of that more than 137,000 people.

Moisson Montreal works closely with 304 agri-food businesses to effectively collect their donations and distributes 14.2 million kilos of food and other basic products worth nearly CAD$81.5M per annum. These are staggering numbers and the operations required to organise this volume of food are enormous.

So where does all this food come from? Four sources primarily. The aforementioned agri-businesses. Some key food companies such as Kraft and Heinz also offer pallets of food. Local supermarkets with unsold food close to expiry make major contributions. And finally private individuals and families, especially around Christmas time really help out.

This all requires regulation, expiry date checking and health and safety controls. Example: all fresh meat must be checked for imperfections and browning and if Ok immediately frozen for safe consumption. Moisson Montreal even have their own bio laboratory onsite to test for contamination.

Moisson Montreal requires 60 volunteers every single day to process this much food. Volunteers pack food, sorted fruit & vegetables, labelled goods and moved packed boxes.

Today 43 WYSTC delegates (including 5 from Australia) participated. Programmes represented included: volunteer, internships, work experiences, accommodation, education abroad, au-pair, air travel and adventure travel. The contingent of Aussies included (pictured): Kristy and Jenna from TA, Lyndall from TAG, Alanna from Colourful Trips and Dirk from Hero Travel.

Well done team! A great service done for those in need!

Written by Chris Harrison (also attending WYSTC).