“Food security means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.” — United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security
If you’re familiar with Sun Youth and what they do, then you know that the organization is a registered charity in Montreal that focuses primarily on helping the most vulnerable members of our city. But what you may not know is that they have several food programs. They offer a Food Assistance Program, a community garden, a community kitchen, and home delivery services.
The Sun Youth Food Assistance Program has existed since the late 1950s. In 1981, the organization created the first food bank in Montreal, in complement to existing soup kitchens. The food bank allowed parents to bring food back to their house so they could cook for their children. It now serves around 2400 families per month. Part of the food used in the baskets comes from food donations from companies and food bought by the organization with money donation from the population; another part comes from the organization’s community gardens.
Since its creation, 6,261 lbs of fresh food have been harvested. The gardens provide immediate food relief by bestowing the clients of Sun Youth’s food bank with organic produce, thereby increasing their food security. The gardens are also a safe space to connect with others and share knowledge. They offer a great opportunity to seniors and children to develop new skills, gain useful knowledge and be physically active. It also allows children to become aware of agriculture-related issues. Since many of the food bank users are recent immigrants with no emotional support in Montreal, Sun Youth’s gardens also are an ideal location to develop a social network and break social isolation.
Sun Youth’s collective kitchen is also a great place to meet new people and a wonderful place for cultural exchanges. People from different countries meet and exchange typical recipes and also learn to cook Quebec traditional meals. Our collective kitchen (started in 2015) is intended for anyone who wants to keep healthy food habits, gain useful knowledge and get involved in the community by sharing values of solidarity, equity, and mutual support while developing new skills. Participants are not asked for a financial contribution to take part in the program. The collective kitchens are open to people of all ages, backgrounds who are curious to discover recipes together.
The home deliveries represent 15 % of Sun Youth’s food bank clients. Food is delivered to people who are physically unable to come to the food bank (seniors with physical health problems, single mothers with newborns, people with mental health issues, etc.)