When Food is a Luxury
Being hungry usually means one of three things:
• You did not eat a full meal.
• You did not eat a balanced meal.
• You did not eat at all.
For some people living with disabilities, food is a luxury they can’t afford. When having to choose between eating and having a roof over their heads, the roof wins every time. Under these circumstances, the risk of being homeless is very high. For some people, that threat may be short-term. For others, it is imminent. What can be done?
Food Banks Help
Many people in Canada are looking into empty refrigerators and wondering how they are going to feed their families today. This is where food banks come to the rescue. Many people who use food banks are on social assistance or have disability income. Nevertheless, a good number of Canadians who aren’t on disability or social assistance are still living paycheck to paycheck. If they miss one day of work, the amount and quality of food they can afford decreases. The food bank is here for them too.
Based on interviews at food banks, at least 40 percent of people who use food banks go hungry at least once a week. The food bank fills in where it can to make sure people are fed.
People Go Hungry
People are going hungry despite the presence of food banks. This often occurs because people lack adequate employment. Having a job isn’t the answer in today’s economy. People need full-time work. A part-time position will barely make a dent in the rent, let alone buying food. In addition, when people find themselves paying for expensive medications and any other health related treatments, there just isn’t much money left for sustenance.
It’s not just people who are on disability and social assistance who are going hungry. Some of the people using the food banks are newcomers to Canada. Often times they are well educated and have children. In most cases, they are in the process of trying to get jobs but can’t because of barriers regarding employment.
The average income of food bank clients is less than $700 a month and most of that is spent on rent. Generally speaking, pay increases of 60 percent is what would be needed to bring social assistance recipients up to the cost of living.
Most people would probably say that they hope food banks will be short-term measures, not a long term solution. They have hopes of getting back on their feet and being able to buy their own food. Some people even hope to be able to pay the food bank back by donating food when they can.