Fringe Food

The True Fringe of Montreal Dining

The Old Brewery Mission has been a shelter for those in need since the late 1800s. Photo Mononc Paul.

While Montreal is often seen as a gourmet city—a place to drop one’s Friday pay cheque on all sorts of culinary delights, it is rarely recognized for its enduring hunger problem.

According to Moisson Montreal, well over 100,000 local residents can’t afford to eat adequately on a daily basis. In keeping with this staggering number, many don’t know that our city also features one of the most impressive networks of soup kitchens, food banks, community kitchens and outreach services in the country.

Despite the work of these organizations, the hungry remain, more often than not, the true “fringe” of the city’s culinary map, neglected both by the global food economy and even the restaurant industry, who traditionally send kilos of leftover food to the landfill each day. Not all food service providers are unaware of the problem, however. Several large wholesalers and distributors donate their leftover goods to one of Montreal’s several charitable food organizations, for circulation to those who need it most.

Where does that leave you? Well, while the old-school way to help the hungry (and one which certainly still makes a difference in people’s lives) is to donate a can of Campbell’s to the food bank, there are now several more active and enjoyable—and often more effective—ways to get involved.

Moisson Montreal is the city’s largest food bank, distributing goods to a host of smaller community organizations scattered across the island. They offer a list of ways to get involved on their website. 6880 Côte de Liesse Blvd., (514) 344-4494

The NDG Food Depot is a truly unconventional “food bank,” strongly embedded within the community, and with a real respect for the two-way relationship of learning between clients and volunteers. They have an open door to volunteers of all kinds. You can help sort and distribute food, events, and even do some beneficial gardening and cooking. 2121 Oxford Ave., (514) 483-4680

Au Chic Resto Pop is a community restaurant in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area, offering ultra-cheap meals to neighbourhood residents in need. Known for their restaurant-quality dishes, and welcome cooks, Au Chic Resto Pop serves all year round. 1500 Orléans Ave., (514) 521-4089

Old Brewery Mission One of the city’s oldest outreach missions founded way back in 1889, Old Brewery Mission offers warm meals and shelter to hundreds of homeless people every day. Help serve some food and make a difference! 380 St-Antoine West, (514) 788-1884

Oeuvre Léger is a multifaceted nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty in Quebec and worldwide. Locally, they run a large program helping to feed schoolchildren, and offer emergency nutrition services to homeless of all ages, and the elderly. Volunteer through the Centre d’action bénévole de Montréal, 130 de l’Epée Ave (514) 495-2409