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CTV News Atlantic: Hot meals for people struggling with rent, groceries: ‘They need it’ - ACORN Canada

CTV News Atlantic: Hot meals for people struggling with rent, groceries: ‘They need it’

Posted January 29, 2024

Since 1983, the Karing Kitchen in downtown Moncton, N.B., has been offering up hot, nutritious lunches for those who need it.

Every Monday to Friday, the team of volunteers serves up a full plate with a sweet or two.

Their clients love the meals and the service.

“The food is really good and the staff has patience galore,” said Rheal Leger.

Harriet Mills, who used to bring her children, said a lot of people would be hurting without the service.

“If we didn’t have the Karing Kitchen, yes, we would all basically be starving,” said Mills.

Karing Kitchen executive director Bruce Lawson said it opened more than 40 years ago as a temporary resource during the recession.

They serve roughly 70-to-100 lunches a day between 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

“It’s a pretty substantial meal. Very nutritious, hot and they need it,” said Lawson.

Lawson said there’s a big misconception that most of the people who come in are coming off the streets.

“I’m only going to say 20 per cent are homeless. The rest are the working poor, seniors, fixed income. Without this meal, they just couldn’t make ends meet,” said Lawson. “There’s heat, there’s lights, there’s laundry. There’s so many expenses people don’t think about in their day-to-day lives.”

For those living in boarding rooms, social assistance can only go so far.

“They have a room, but they’re only getting $700 and some dollars a month and if you’re paying four or five hundred for a room you need to come here to eat,” said Lawson.

Leger said it’s hard to get good food.

“The price, when you go to the stores, the price is sky high. Same thing with rent,” said Leger.

Mills is struggling, too.

“I’m paying $400 a month for a room and it’s still tight,” she said.

Marty La Fête is on employment insurance and the medication he needs for his Type 2 diabetes is expensive.

“I can’t afford groceries in any way, shape or form that is convenient,” said La Fête. “A little bit of milk and a couple of greens just to keep my body in shape, that’s all I can really afford.”

ACORN NB is an advocacy group for people with low, medium and moderate income.

Co-chair Peter Jongeneelen isn’t surprised at all to see people turning to soup kitchens.

“We’re seeing people with incomes of $40,000 and up actually are starting to come to us and say, ‘I’m struggling, I’ve got a family. I used to be able to live on this half-decent income but not anymore with the way prices are going,” said Jongeneelen.

On Feb. 10, ACORN will hold rallies in 10 cities across Canada to try to stop price gouging at the nation’s major grocers.

“We’re asking them basically to make essential items more affordable,” said Jongeneelen. “You go into some of these stores and a loaf of bread that used to cost two bucks is now costing four and five dollars. The price of eggs, the price of milk, these sort of things that you really do need, good nutritious food. So some people are yes, they are turning to soup kitchens, food banks.”

Like their clients, the Karing Kitchen is feeling the pinch of the high cost of living.

The board of directors have launched the ‘Lunch on You’ sponsorship campaign in hopes of getting some corporate support.

The following are options for donation:

  •  Daily Sustainer – $150: Daily contribution ensures a nutritious lunch for someone in need
  •  Hunger Eradicator – $1,000: Covers the cost of lunches for an entire week
  •  Nutrition Champion – $3,500: Support an entire month of daily nutritious meals

To learn more or to make a donation to the ‘Lunch on You’ program contact Lawson at


Article by Derek Haggett for CTV News