Those of you who have spent days (or weeks) subsisting off ramen, or rice and beans, know that living on a student budget can be tough. Eating three meals a day that are fresh, nutritious and balanced is no small feat, especially at the end of the month. In response to this, food collectives at campuses all around Montreal have cropped up, some of which have been thriving for decades. Their mission: to provide a healthy meal to all of those who need it.
The Midnight Kitchen has been serving students since 2002, born out of a movement to provide an alternative to the more expensive on-campus food options. They serve nutritious vegan breakfasts and lunch during the school year in an accessible location on-campus. Operating on a pay-what you can basis, their main clientele is McGill students, though they are open to all.
Similarly, the People’s Potato at Concordia is a soup kitchen run collectively which offers vegan meals on a by-donation basis: no student or faculty member is ever turned away due to lack of funds. Operating since 1999, they now serve lunches Monday-Friday to an average of 500 students and community members!
Following in their foodsteps, Ras-le-Bol was created by students at UQAM to distribute vegan meals to its community. They also host collective kitchens, where groups of people can cook up budget-friendly meals to then take home with them. This is an especially good option for students with small fridges who cannot store food in bulk, but want the economic advantages of cooking up big batches.
What all of these groups have in common is a focus on offering local and sustainable produce. They benefit the whole community by stimulating local economy, reducing carbon footprint and giving clients access to affordable healthy food.
The help of these coops is greatly needed. Montreal ranks second in Canada in terms of food insecurity, and around 40% of the population is unable to access fresh food within a walking distance of 500m. Food coops are just one of the ways the community is striving to help those in need of food aid.
In need of a free lunch? Visit the Facebook pages of the food coops listed above!
Written by Alexandra Toutant
Photo : Midnight Kitchen/P2P Foundation