Updated: Feb 14
Over the Summer I bought myself a bike. I was so happy to be able to move around Montreal but with the whole pandemic, I didn't really have many destinations to go to or reasons to go out. That's when my friend Arnaud (the guy in the picture below) told me about Faisenpour2: a citizen's initiative aiming at reducing food insecurity through the simple means of volunteering and collaboration. While embellir's primary goal is to simplify information, make it accessible and spread the word around food waste, we also believe in building a community that fosters mutual support through collaboration with other initiatives that share our vision. And this one is definitely worth talking about ! I have had the pleasure to help out Faisenpour2 as a volunteer rider and wanted to share the great energy and people behind this much needed project through an interview with one of their permanent members.
First, tell us a little bit about Faisenpour2!
Faisenpour2 started on the Concordia University Campus two years ago. The initial idea was simple: students were invited to cook an additional portion of their lunch and to drop it off at the Faisenpour2 kiosk. Volunteers then distributed the meals to homeless people around the campus. The goal of this initiative was to give students a concrete and convenient way to battle the food distress experienced by the most vulnerable by giving them some comfort through a meal prepared with care. The arrival of Covid-19 and the resulting restrictions have greatly upset this mode of operations. We now had to find a way to continue helping the most disadvantaged despite the closing of University campuses. We then thought: why not benefit from the fact that everyone is stuck at home and has nothing to do, encourage them to continue cooking for us? A good team of cycling volunteers could easily visit several addresses, collect meals that could be left at the doorstep and finally bring everything to charitable organizations. The experiment was a success! A great spirit of solidarity arose from the fear and uncertainties caused by the pandemic. People wanted to participate in something where they felt they could make a difference and bring some happiness in these troubled times.
Who are the people benefiting from your initiative and who are the people taking the initiative?
We are currently working in collaboration with an organism of Montreal-Nord, Paroles d’excluES. It is a community organization working with families in financial difficulties. These families are often single mothers with several children, or single-income families. Faisenpour2 and Paroles d’excluES split tasks. Faisenpour2 takes care of collecting the meals. We encourage people, mainly through social media, to sign up for our weekly pick-ups and prepare a meal which we then transport to Montréal-Nord. Since Paroles d’excluES know their community well, they are the ones taking care of the distribution of the meals. They know which families have children, which families prefer vegetarian meals, who does not eat pork etc. Splitting tasks this way made the logistics much more simple and organic.
The Faisenpour2 team is composed of cooks and riders. Anyone can sign up and cook a meal for that week. The team of riders also changes through time. Anyone with a working bike can apply to join the team and participate in rides to collect the meals. The management team can change as well. With a simple and uncluttered operating system, it is easy to train new people for them to take care of logistics or communications. We are aiming to make our organism alive and organic. We do not want it to become too big or too complicated:
Just this small initiative that anyone can participate in without commitment, when the desire takes them to bring a little ray of sunshine into another human’s week.
Taking the standpoint of one of your riders: what motivates and drives you to ride to all these places for free?
These uncertain times have triggered many reasons for our riders to participate. Some have lost their jobs and have nothing to do with their day, others miss social interactions and feel the need to see people and exchange smiles. We also have people who simply want to help. Finally, there are those who challenge themselves to cycle in the middle of winter in a frozen city! The point is, all reasons are good to come ride with Faisenpour2.
Why have you decided to engage with private individuals rather than with - let’s say - supermarkets?
Faisenpour2 seeks to forge links, encourages solidarity and reciprocal goodwill. Organizations other than ours, such as food banks or shelters, are more suited to the large donations that supermarkets tend to provide. Being a rather modest organization, we prefer to emphasize on individual donations. A dish prepared at home, with special attention to quality and nutritional value satisfies the cook, considering that it will be consumed by someone who really needs it. Oftentimes cooks leave messages and words of encouragement on the boxes. It is precious details such as these, that make the donations so valuable. That's the impact Faisenpour2 strives towards making.
We know that the current pandemic has led to an increase in food insecurity in the past year. How has Covid impacted your activity? Has participation decreased due to lockdown?
In fact, it is quite the opposite. The pandemic and lockdown have led to the rise of Faisenpour2 for all the reasons mentioned above. The tighter the restrictions, the more success for Faisenpour2. Faisenpour2’s current approach is very successful, with a large part of the Montreal population staying at home most of the time. Additionally, with the limited opportunities to eat out, people are cooking more than ever and are willing to share. We hope that Faisenpour2 will be established enough to continue its operations by the time the Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted.
How can we get involved as a rider or as a cook?
The best way to contact us is through social media. By following us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll be informed of our next pick-up dates, as well as how to register as a cook. As for those interested in riding with us, contact us on social media in order for us to get to know each other ! Help is often needed and there are plenty of opportunities to make your first food pick-up.
What take-home message do you want to leave our readers with?
Faisenpour2 is a small organism that does good. Through the simplest of intentions, sharing food made with love and care, you can help make the daily life of a family with difficulties, a little more comfortable. We have no other ambitions than to promote solidarity among humans, to forge closer links and to exchange smiles. We look forward to seeing you soon, as a cook or as a rider!
You heard it ! If you have a bike or a passion for cooking and want to participate - you just have to click on the links below. And finally a big thank you to these amazing people who continue their efforts despite the harsh conditions we've been having lately !