When I was young, foolish and freshly married the first time, I experienced something I thought I would never know. I went hungry.
Granted, it was only about a week. However, those seven days of nothing have stuck with me forever. No one should ever have to go hungry.
I remember being a kid at about ten years old where I started the growth spurts. I ate everything that wasn’t nailed down. I remember my father saying that as long as I ate something he didn’t care. My mom was silently furious. I’m pretty sure I ate some things she was saving for herself. Sorry Mom!
Yet with the background from my parents: my mother: the first of eight siblings, my father: growing up with Rickett’s and having a sibling die of malnutrition, I am extremely spoiled when it came to food. My parents were on the stricter side and fair. I ate was what provided or I didn’t eat at all. And they always provided for me. The feeling stuck.
That gnawing in my belly. That burning anger that I couldn’t assign a reason to besides privilege. The frustration as I saw many people tossing out food that was still good if prepared properly. Never again.
I found myself at my church. They had a food bank. I had no idea how to even ask for something to eat. Eyes down and shaking, I remember just standing next to Ms. Norma, the food bank worker. Ashamed, I couldn’t even ask her. She took pity on me. She filled out the forms for me, made me sign at the bottom and handed me a box of food.
That was the best damn tuna sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.
I spent the next few months working at that food bank and with my church. No one knew it then, but I was determined to earn every morsel of food I put in my mouth. I smiled warmly to everyone who came in to get a box. I helped them with the forms. I knew what it was like.
Now I am older, still foolish and married for the second time. I struggle with my weight. Why? Because I know that there are people out there hungry – more than I was all that time ago. Some days I don’t eat. Some days I can’t eat. Most days I force myself to eat. I have to honor my body and the gift that Ms. Norma gave me all that time ago. I can do more.
Here are some facts about hunger in Canada:
“Each month, close to 850,000 Canadians are assisted by food banks, and 36.4% of those helped are children and youth. … Who is turning to food banks? There is no single, typical profile. The people helped include families with children, employed people whose wages are not sufficient to cover basic living essentials, individuals on social assistance, and Canadians living on a fixed income, including people with disabilities and seniors.”
That not clear enough for you? How about a picture? HungerCount Infographic 2014:
That’s right. Your next-door neighbours could have enough to pay the bills – but not eat. More than likely, you’ll never know about it. Here’s how you can help:
Support your local food bank.
Here are some of the items that are always needed:
- Pasta (canned or dry) and pasta sauces.
- Canned and frozen meats and fish
- Meat alternatives (peanut butter, soy, assorted nuts)
- Canned goods (beans, soups, and stews)
- Dairy (fresh, canned, and powdered milk)
- Canned vegetables and fruit
- Whole grain cereals
- Infant foods and baby formula
- Bathroom tissue and diapers
- Personal hygiene products
Moreover, if you are one of the invisible many who are struggling to put food on the table AND a roof overhead, USE THE FOOD BANK.
Here are the food banks that I know of:
* Brock Community Food Bank – 1-877-406-8723
* Beaverton – 1-877-406-8723
* Cannington/Sunderland – 1-877-406-8723
* Newcastle – 905-987-1418
* Loaves and Fishes–Uxbridge – 905-852-6262
* Operation Scugog – 905-985-7271
* Salvation Army:
Ajax – 905-427-7123
Bowmanville – 905-623-2185
Oshawa – 905-723-7422
Whitby – 905-430-3454
* Seventh Day Adventists–Oshawa – 905-433-8800
* Simcoe Hall Settlement House–Oshawa – 905-728-7525
* St Paul’s on the Hill–Pickering – 905-839-9537
I know the shame. I know the frustration. I know the fear of stigmatization. My friends, you can fight all of that better of a full stomach. If you can’t seem to get to the bank. PLEASE reach out to your friends. We’ll help as best we can!