Cutback on food security services

·3 min read

The Kanesatake Emergency Response Unit (ERU) has announced that they must adjust their food security delivery service as the winter approaches.

Earlier this week, the ERU announced that starting on Monday, November 23, the Meals-onWheels program will be moving on from delivering five days to only twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As for the food baskets, families using the service will have to come to pick up their baskets on Wednesday only.

The food delivery services were part of an initiative taken at the beginning of the pandemic to assure all Kanehsata’kehró:non would have access to food.

According to the ERU spokesperson Robert Bonspiel, the decision was made after concerns were raised regarding the safety of the staff driving around the community in the winter.

“We want our drivers on the road as little as possible,” said Bonspiel. “The less time that they are out there means the less possibility of having them injured.”

The decision was questioned by various Kanehsata’kehró:non, worried that elders using the Meals-on-Wheels service wouldn’t receive enough food to sustain them. Yet, part of the decision was made based on feedback from clients that said they often received too much food, according to Bonspiel.

He explained that all parties receiving the service were consulted in order to assure that each individual’s needs will be met, depending on each unique situation.

“People are actually throwing things away,” Bonspiel said. To him, this is not in the spirit of the whole Meals-on-Wheels operation - no food should be wasted.

He explained the feedback that holds the most weight is what comes from the participants directly.

“They are in the best position to let us know which direction to take, because they are the ones in the situation,” said Bonspiel.

The ERU wasn’t able to provide The Eastern Door with the numbers of clients using both programs.

Bonspiel said that the ERU’s changes will adapt as they go, depending on the people’s needs and means of transportation.

The service will be provided to, “anybody who doesn’t have sufficient food,” said Bonspiel, “if the person doesn’t have a vehicle or have access to one, or if they have COVID-19, in all those situations we will continue to deliver to those people.”

Bonspiel hopes that both programs will be able to carry on even after the pandemic is over. But the reality of the second wave forces everyone to adjust.

The food security service was developed at the beginning of the pandemic, earlier in the spring. As uncertainty grew across Quebec’s supply chains, the ERU put in place two programs providing food security to people in need.

Meals-on-Wheels focused mostly on offering daily hot meals to elders with physical or medical restrictions. The food baskets, which include different vegetables, fruits and other goodies, were initially delivered once a week to low-income families or the most vulnerable people.

Right now, for both the ERU staff and Kanehsata’kehró:non, the goal is the same - it’s about keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door