Feeding an entire neighbourhood
Back in April 2020, at the very start of the pandemic when we are all confined to our homes, so many people struggled to put food on the table. All food security activities for low-income people were shut down. Community cafeterias and community kitchens closed their doors. Food banks that supply community agencies became short on both food and volunteers. Stakeholders throughout Montreal came together to find solutions and, in Montreal’s east end, the idea emerged to set up a large inter-neighbourhood food distribution chain. Supported by the Réseau alimentaire de l’Est de Montréal (RAEM), La Grande Boucle Solidaire was born.
A large-scale project
With all flights grounded during the pandemic, the RAEM took advantage of the situation by first reaching out to Fleury Michon America and Transat, two food suppliers facing large losses in their sales of frozen meals for air travel. A food supply network was deployed in nine neighbourhoods and one municipality in the east end of the island. The RAEM coordinated distribution drop-off points with 40 local agencies. Every week, refrigerated trucks from Bouffe-Action de Rosemont and the Groupe d’Entraide de Mercier-Ouest (GEMO) picked up pallets of meal trays and snacks to deliver them to community agencies that gave the food to people in need, such as single people, seniors, single-parent families, and people living on a low income or in a situation of homelessness. La Grande Boucle Solidaire ended in April 2021 after flights returned to their regular schedules.
Each week, over 11,000 meals were given out to nearly 6,000 people in nine neighbourhoods and one municipality in the Island’s east end.
The creativity of these partners and their speed in launching La Grande Boucle Solidaire were remarkable. The RAEM mobilized people from many activity sectors and achieved significant results in a short time. Broadly speaking, the project helped build bridges between agencies, and this collaborative relationship will certainly bear fruit for new projects.
The Réseau alimentaire de l’Est de Montréal (RAEM) received the 2023 Solidaires Supportive Communities for La Grande Boucle Solidaire.
This award is given to a collective body or group of agencies that stand out through their ability to mobilize local stakeholders in a collective action, project or approach that contributed to the community’s social development during the pandemic.