More funding needed to meet - Outaouais’ growing food aid demand

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Added: Wed, 05/06/2020 - 2:43pm
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SUPPORT PONTIAC FOOD - The Club Quad du Pontiac had to cancel its Big WoW Poker Run this year due to COVID-19, but the members of the board of directors decided to postpone a contribution to Bouffe Pontiac. On May 3, club president René Barrette presented Ms. Kim Laroche with a check for $ 1,000. This sum will help Bouffe Pontiac to distribute food and essential products to families in need.

Allyson Beauregard

OUTAOUAIS – The Ouatouais Warden’s Table is advocating for increased financial assistance for Moisson Outaoauis and Centraide Outaouais in light of drastic increases in requests for food aid in the Outaouais during the Covid-19 crisis. They’ve asked Québec’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for authorization to direct $100,000 from the Regional and Rural Fund (FRR) to the two organizations, stating government assistance announced to date in the context of the crisis isn’t enough to meet all the needs of the Outaouais community.
“Since the beginning of the crisis, requests for food aid in the Outaouais region have increased by up to 200% in rural areas and by 40% to 70% in urban areas,” said Chantal Lamarche, president of the Warden’s Table and warden of MRC de la Vallée-de-la-Gatineau. 
Bouffe Pontiac receives funding and supplies from both Moisson Outaouais and Centraide Outaouais and is also seeing a drastic increase in local need. “We have close to 200 more open files per month,” said Kim Laroche, Bouffe Pontiac director general.
With increased need, there are bigger expenses and according to Laroche, the $3,000 they normally spent on food per month has doubled to about $6,000, which is also partly due to different buying strategies. “We can no longer wait for sales to buy and stock up on certain things. We have to buy what we need right away because of possible shortages,” she explained.
“The cancellation of fundraising and food collection in March, April and May at Moisson Outaouais result in a shortfall of $150,000 for this period and we are trying to find a solution,” said Jane Toller, MRC Pontiac warden.
In their request, the wardens asked that $50,000 be given to Moisson Outaouais to support its activities in the context of the Covid crisis and $50,000 to Centraide Outaouais’ Covid-19 emergency fund, which has collected about $510,000 in donations to date. 
To date, $217,000 has been paid out to 22 agencies through Centraide’s emergency fund, mainly to address food security issues, help seniors, hire staff and purchase personal protective equipment and disinfectant. Bouffe Pontiac received $10,000 to purchase food and extra refrigerators, cover increased travel costs, etc. Centre Intervalle Pontiac was also a recipient.  
Bouffe Pontiac also recently received $17,500 in donations from Pontiac MNA André Fortin’s office. According to Laroche, the increased funding streams have ensured the organization isn’t feeling financially strained by the increased need, but it’s difficult to determine what the future will hold if the pandemic persists for the long-term. “We’re basically taking it day by day,” she said.