Meals For Milton-Parc is a newly created meal-share initiative developed by U3 Arts student Sophie Hart that aims to provide unhoused people in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood with food and care packages.
The initiative was started on Oct. 7 upon Hart’s realization that there was no McGill organization which directly sought to support unhoused individuals in the nearby Milton-Parc community. Hart is an Indigenous Studies student and has worked for Native Montreal for the past two years, an organization that aims to contribute to the holistic health and cultural resilience of Indigenous communities in the Montreal area.
Hart has lived in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood for three years during her studies and has always felt uneasy about how the McGill community disassociates themselves from unhoused people in the area.
“I have been living in this neighbourhood for four years now and have always felt like I should be doing more,” Hart said. “I started Meals for Milton-Parc because I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to support the individuals without shelter in my community.”
The Milton-Parc neighbourhood has a high number of unhoused individuals, many of whom are Indigenous. The Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network found that while Indigenous people make up only 0.6 per cent of Montreal’s population, these individuals represent 10 per cent of those who are unhoused in the city. Hart recognizes that this is a systemic problem and hopes that this initiative may serve as a way to connect McGill students with the greater Milton-Parc community.
“I wanted to make sure everyone in my community, [including] those who are experiencing homelessness, to know that there is a network in Milton-Parc to support them that loves and cares about them,” Hart said.
The goal of Meals for Milton-Parc is to provide unhoused individuals in the neighbourhood with weekly meals and bimonthly care packages. They have been communicating directly with the individuals who they serve daily in order to ensure that they are catering to the needs and wants of the community. So far, the initiative has managed to provide hot meals, including a three sisters’ stew and Bannock, as well as several snacks, such as fruit, chips, and sweets. Hart hopes to consistently provide three meals per week along with a daily assortment of snacks. She has been reaching out to local Montreal restaurants for sponsorships. Fairmount Bagel, a local bagel shop, donated bagels and cream cheese.
“I am happy about this because one of the individuals I talked to last week asked if we could have cream cheese and bagels,” Hart said. “I am glad that we were able to secure something that he really wanted.”
Although Meals for Milton-Parc was only recently started, they are growing quickly. With over 600 Instagram followers and 144 members, Hart hopes to expand the initiative beyond her initial personal efforts to ensure the services’ longevity. They are currently organizing logistics and have just finished recruiting an Executive Board. On Oct. 21, they will be hosting their first mandatory volunteer training, with an emphasis on educating its members on Canada’s colonial legacy, as it is intrinsically linked to urban housing problems.
“I want to collaborate with as many people as possible in order to do as much work as we can,” Hart said. “I am hoping in the long run we can coordinate on different days for meals […] so the most amount of people can get the most amount of use of all the services that are available.”
Hart recognizes the groundwork that has been laid out by the robust work of community organizations such as The Open Door and the Old Brewery Mission, groups currently aiding unhoused people in Montreal. Hart hopes that this initiative can meaningfully supplement the resources already available for this neighbourhood.
For ways to help out Meals for Milton-Parc, check out their Facebook and Instagram pages, where they have detailed donation lists, e-transfer details, and further information on the mission statement and goals.