The reality of poverty

For a number of years, members of my own family have been “the working poor.” Things are better – or rather, getting better – but still they constantly have to make choices about food, necessities, and budgets. They aren’t homeless, though one adverse life event and that could be the case. These family members work HARD. Some of them have more than one job because in the economic climate that is Canada at the moment, most companies offer only part-time jobs to keep the cost of employees to a minimum.

Anyway, when I read this article, I actually experienced a significant degree of anger. (Please – read the post. It’s good)

Why is that grocery stores all over the developed world are MANDATED to throw out perfectly good food every night because of nanny-state health rules or  litigation-fearing corporations? Why do sugar frosted bombs with virtually no nutritional value cost less than fresh fruit? This is a sick, sick world.

All this edible food came from a dumpster

At one point years ago, my husband and I were “dumpster diving” behind Tim Hortons and the Co-op in our local town to feed our daughters.  The food that was thrown away meant the difference to us between eating and going hungry. Neither the Co-op nor Tim Hortons could give us the food they threw in the trash. The manager of the Co-op said, “I’d lose my job and the store would be cited for ‘health violations’ if I give you this food without it going in the dumpster first.” The manager at Tim Hortons, when he realised we were taking their garbage, had his staff separate the food from the real garbage, and mark the bag we should take. During that period when we came within a hair’s breadth of losing our house, it was picking up soda cans and checking out dumpsters that kept body and soul together until Bill was well enough to go back to work.

But for a sympathetic bank manager and Bill’s decision to return to work, hurting and unhealed, we would have been put out of our home. People who have worked hard all their lives end up in places they never planned to be because LIFE IS HARD. SH*T happens. And when it does, if there’s no handy dandy money cushion to fall back on, life gets really hard. Today at lunch, one of my rather nerdy friends who loves data said, “The average Canadian family is 90 days or less from being completely insolvent.” If something catastrophic were to happen in your life – like losing your job – do you have the resources right now to make it through without losing the life you have? Hooray if you do. (You’re in the minority.)

None of this is made any easier by the way we collectively deal with food. (You thought I’d lost the plot, didn’t you?)

There are all sorts of really cool initiatives out there – community gardens, shared land, stores that flout the health code and put “spoiled” food outside in clean cardboard boxes, cooking parties where ingredients are pooled and results are shared, and bigger projects, involving policies, charities, and agencies.

Unfortunately, it’s just not a big enough movement. People are still hopelessly and helplessly, hungry.

Secondary to the ranting about how we deal with food, is the message that not everyone is homeless or destitute because of laziness, drugs, mental illness, or social rebellion. Even if that IS the reason someone is homeless and hungry, a compassionate response might show that human kindness is not dependent on circumstances.

Which it isn’t.


If that kindness happened to be masquerading as fresh fruit &/or vegetables, so much the better.

Fresh tomatoes, Oxford Farmer's Market. (c)sjspic2014
Fresh tomatoes, Oxford Farmer’s Market. (c)sjspic2014

Feeding the hungry in America – click here

Feeding the hungry in Canada – click here

Feeding the world’s hungry – click here, here, and here.

Talk amongst yourselves...

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