Mr. Speaker, I recently asked the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development why, in a country as rich as ours, 1.4 million children are still living in poverty, and more than a third of them rely on food banks. These statistics are alarming and unacceptable.
In its 2018 Hunger Count, the organization Food Banks of Quebec reported that the number of free meals for children has gone up 48.5% since 2013 and that 37.8% of the households that rely on food banks are families with children. The figures for my riding, which were supplied by La Moisson maskoutaine, show that 34.1% of the people receiving food assistance are children under 17. That is one-third. It is a huge number.
Food banks across Canada are doing amazing work, and I want to take a moment in the House to thank them for their dedication and their efforts. I especially want to thank the organizations in my riding, their volunteers, their boards of directors and the people who work there day after day. They are making life easier for the people of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale.
With regard to food assistance, I am especially thinking of the Centre de bénévolat de St-Hyacinthe, the Centre de bénévolat d'Acton Vale, the Comptoir-partage La Mie and La Moisson maskoutaine.
In the riding, there are many organizations that do extraordinary work every day for those much less fortunate. I am thinking of ACEF Montérégie-est, the Centre Louise Bibeau and La Clé sur la porte.
Back in March, when the most recent Hunger Count was being compiled, La Moisson maskoutaine reported giving food aid to over 2,300 people across the RCM, including close to 200 children. It provided 31,751 kilograms of food to 13 organizations across the region and fed thousands of families and individuals who live with food insecurity. Specifically, 2,312 people received food assistance that month alone. I thank these organizations for their tremendous and essential work.
I also want to take the time to thank the organizations that work with and strongly support our children and young people.
I would like to thank all these organizations' members, volunteers and boards of directors. I am thinking about Sylvie Joubert, Martin Rivard and Sylvie Caouette, from the Club Optimiste d'Acton Vale; Sylvie Carbonneau and Linda Proulx from the Club Optimiste de Douville, and particularly for their Tribute to the Youth activity; the Centre d'intervention-jeunesse des Maskoutains; Jeunes en santé and its coordinator, Jezabelle Legendre; Espace carrière; Grands Frères Grandes Soeurs de la Montérégie; the JAG, which stands for Jeunes Adultes Gai-e-s; and the Maison le Baluchon, where I worked for over a decade.
These people and others in my riding truly care about working with young people and children to improve their quality of life. Let's not forget the Maison jeunesse L'Oxy-bulle de Roxton, the Maison des jeunes de Saint-Hyacinthe, the Maison des jeunes d'Acton Vale, the Maison des jeunes des Quatre-Vents, the Table de concertation jeunesse maskoutaine and the Grand Galop, under the direction of Chantal Pelletier.
A simple expression of thanks in this debate pales in comparison to the incredible reach of their actions. I am well aware of that. I just want them to know that I continue to support them and have the greatest admiration for them. People like them make me proud to be from that riding and represent it as a member of Parliament.
In their name—