Not fun at all, actually.  No.  The people were really nice but I had no idea what I was walking into.  I’ve never been to a Food Bank.

I lost a job that I’d held for years a very long time ago.  They were a bunch of fucktards that basically “fired” me for being mentally ill.  No one could get away with what they did to me with current legislation.  I won’t go further, but point being, back then and still today, I feel there are so many more people in need than I am.  I should not be going to a Food Bank.

My Dietician convinced me.  She said I am just as much “in need” as anyone else due to my life’s circumstances.  That still doesn’t make me feel any better about it.  I suppose she’s right, though.  Maybe now more than ever.

So, before I proceed with the rest of this tale, maybe other folks can share their experiences of going to Food Banks.  That is if they feel comfortable.

There were so many people! I thought we got there early enough.  They had a “Take A Number” system and oh, my.  I can’t remember but there were 30+ people ahead of me.  I asked how long it would take.  The guy said an hour.  Poor Grocery Man! The irony of me calling him Grocery Man as he drove me to a Food Bank instead of shopping for groceries.  You see, after the Food Bank, we had to talk about some other things regarding my future.  Some really, really bad things.

I ran outside with my ticket in hand to ask him what to do.  I didn’t want him to have to wait an hour! I started crying and he asked what I wanted to do.  Then I said I didn’t know, what did he want to do.  This went on for a while until my crying got nearly out of control.  Then he said to just go and get the damn food!

I thought you’d just walk in, give them ID, and start scrounging around through a bunch of boxes.  No.  That was kind of the point of having a number.  To keep things orderly in terms of all of us, the starving throng, plus they prepared your little packages for you.

Since I had never been there, they had to “process me.”  That also took a bit longer.  I have to provide them with more information (income, rent, dependents, ID with address–but that’s for every visit.)  I was told today I can go there four times a month, so basically every week.  All the information I am thinking is to determine your number of visits and maybe how much loot you can get.

While being “processed” there was a bunch of stuff on the woman’s desk.  I could have “one” of the items.  Whatever I wanted.  I didn’t even know what some of the things were.  So, I took…you’ll see at the bottom.  It seems kind of weird and it surprised me.  I thought it was something else and half of it is but…

They give you these little tickets for whatever you want.  Then you give those tickets to the folks who have what you want.  They even had some second hand clothes.  They even had perishables wrapped up in bags.  Would have been nice to nail one of those, but they disappeared long before my number was called.

I got what you’d pretty much expect (apart from the weird and/or surprising?) Rice, pasta, crackers, peanut butter, a couple of granola bars, some buns that look alright, soup, spaghetti sauce, a tin of tuna, and a tiny bottle of juice.

The kinda weird and unexpected?

What I took from intake looked like a big jar of honey.  It sort of is.  Honey and Ginger Tea.  It’s a big jar of honey that appears to have big hunks of ginger in it.  It says to put two to three teaspoons of it into boiling water and there’s your tea.  Okay.

More tea.  This was left on the “Perishables Table.”  Some kind of “Chinese Tea” the guy said.  I love tea so I scooped up all the packets and just threw them into my coat pocket.  When I got home, I felt them and it’s like they have tiny pebbles in their little bags.  On a couple, there’s a Pharmaceutical Company’s name.  Huh? The characters also look Korean to me, but I can’t read that, Cantonese or Mandarin either, so what’s the difference.  Still, Big Pharma Tea? I probably shouldn’t drink that.  Not with all the damn meds I’m on.

And, last but not least? I am going to taste powdered milk for the first time ever.  That should be interesting.

Also “interesting” were all of us, the starving throng.  Quite a group.  I brought Wonder Cane as in the morning I was a bit post-“ick”tal© wobbly.  So, I probably looked pretty groovy there m’self. *shakes head*

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  1. Well, there is a first time for everything, right And they were not kidding when they came up with this saying.

    Oh, my sweet PA… <3

    As you know, I have had my rough times as well. After losing all the money and all my assets, I also lost the ability to legally work, be insured or opt for any sort of aid from the US Government. Funny that I had a visa, one of the best visas you can get, but I could not work in anything but the visa I lost thanks to some malicious people.

    So I had no insurance, no medical help of any kind, no food back. When things got really bad, I went to bed hungry, although in all honesty that only happened once or twice. For the most part, I had even a little to eat. Whatever money I made cleaning aquariums or doing some other odd jobs, I used to pay rent and services. I had no luxuries, no spare money for anything…nothing. Not even candy. I was happy when I was able to scrape some few dollars to buy bread, some chicken and milk.

    So I know what it is like.

    But although I don't like clichés either, they do wrap a tiny seed of truth in their insides. So, do remember this…

    This too, shall pass.

    It does.

    (Oh and btw, powered milk is not that bad…I have it every day with my coffee..)

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  2. Well, if it is indeed Korean, then I have a whole country at my disposal to help you figure it out. Post or mail me a pic :)

    And the ginger honey tea. Oh yummers. Ginger, at least for me, helps soothe the savage migraine tummy. I need to go get some ginger tea, especially as it’s getting chilly here.

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  3. Hi Maria. Thanks, but after reading your comment, I don’t know if I should feel so bad at all! Those are some serious hardships!

    Thanks for the heads up about the powdered milk, too. I don’t know if it would be that bad to add to things, but I was going along the lines of straight up. Drinking as intended–milk! I’ll try anything! I figure, why not? If it’s that bad, just spit it out in the sink!

    Hi katm. I figured you’d show up if I said anything “Korean!”

    I was wrong about the language, though. At least about the “Big Pharma Tea.” Did you expect me not to look that up? No way. I couldn’t resist that!

    It is in China. Further, I found they make something called: “Special Gunpowder China Green Tea (Temple of Heaven Brand.”) Uh, okay… Is it just me, but does that sound kinda…?

    Like, what. Are you supposed to go running around with a bunch of firearms, shooting up things in order to get to Heaven? Do you shoot yourself to get to Heaven?

    Promo on package reads: “Buy our Special Gunpowder China Green Tea! Temple of Heaven Brand! Our guarantee ensures you’ll make it past the Pearly Gates! Free gun and ammunition included!”

    It is true about ginger as well for upset tummies. However, I haven’t really tried it. At least not gnawing on a root. Maybe some drops in tea. I can’t remember.

    I suppose I shall with what I was given when tummy starts to act up again. It’s not caffeinated so I won’t be drinking it in the morning.

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  4. Best food bank I’ve ever used was in Guelph… getting the food home was always tough, not having a car or money for a cab. But they give you a huge box of cans, and they sort them out if you have dietary restrictions. Then all the bread you can carry. Usually we’d go in pairs so we could help the other guy carry his stuff back.

    Stratford was excellent as well, and run by a bunch of very nice Fundies. But it’s too far away from downtown, and there’s no public transit in Stratford… they do have a weird taxi service there, it’s a fixed rate to anywhere. When I was living there I couldn’t afford the $5…

    The first one I ever went to, and one I used a lot while I was living in Ottawa, was the Shepherd’s of Good Hope. I used their soup kitchen a few times as well (KnitNut / Zoom) used to volunteer there).

    Most of them involve waiting, and lining up, and walking away with bags that instantly identify you as someone walking away from a food bank — it can be a good idea to bring your own cloth bags.

    Basically you want as much pasta and sauce as you can carry. It’s what lasts longest, and you can get two or three meals out of a jar of sauce.

    When I was using them in Ottawa I’d try to hit a few of them in a month, so don’t be afraid to look for another food bank. They don’t like it, but if you’re short on food and all you’ve got are a couple of granola bars, you need to find another food bank.

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  5. Hi Gabriel…. Thanks for the info. They all sound like pretty good places.

    I understand the difficulty of trying to get the stuff back, as well. I don’t have a car so any place would somehow have to be along a public transit line. Kind of ironic that you’re going to a Food Bank but then have to shell out money for a cab? Uh, yeah.

    I did bring my own bags and rucksack. I knew well enough they’d be required. That also makes sense to hop around to different ones. Although, I’m already not to happy about going to one at all. Going to more could make me feel worse!

    Well, hopefully doing this won’t be a regular gig for too long. Let’s get you a job, PA!

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  6. Sid

    I’ve only been to a food bank once, back in late 2003/early 2004, before the current economic crisis ever hit, so I was the only person there. Never in my life did I ever expect to end up at a food bank, as I’m sure most people don’t, and it was hard to accept that I was in the position where it was necessary. I probably wouldn’t have even gone there if I only had myself to feed, but I also had to feed my daughter.

    Since I didn’t go close to any of the big holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter), the pickings were slim. I had to provide all the same information they asked you for, and they went in back and brought back a couple bags of groceries to me. Aside from a tube of frozen ground beef (didn’t even know it came in tubes), the rest was non-perishable stuff and a lot was stuff I never would have purchased myself, like a can of sardines and some weird soup. I ended up re-donating at least a quarter of it back to them cuz there was just no way, starving or not, that either of us would have eaten some of it.

    There will always be someone that’s in more need than you, so you can’t think about that when utilizing such services. You can only look at if from the perspective of “do I need this help right now to help me survive”.

    The upside, now having been to a food bank, I have a better understanding of just how crucial a program like that is and I’m more likely to make a donation when I have the spare cash. And when I do buy food to donate, I buy stuff I know the majority of people like.

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  7. Hi Sid. Thanks so much for your heartfelt comment. It means a lot to me considering this has been such a tough and sensitive issue.

    What you say makes a lot of sense. I guess I’m the sort of person where…how can I explain this properly. I mean, this post wasn’t supposed to come off as me being some kind of martyr. I wasn’t putting myself up on some pedestal, trying to say I was “better” than people who were completely poor, totally homeless or anything!

    I suppose I still consider myself my “former self” in a lot of ways. Or simply and better put: the person who was in the same position before being laid off.

    That would be the person donating food to Food Banks (which I did do in the past.) I think I also see myself as having luxuries that so many people don’t have! So, maybe I should wait until those luxuries are gone?

    Here I sit typing this to you now on baby MacBook. That means I have Internet Wifi access. Along with that, a mobile phone, other electronic gadgets. I still have a roof over my head (but maybe not for so much longer, or at least the same one.) Okay, so there may be a bit of a “luxury” lost. Perhaps more of them will be lost soon, as well.

    So, I sort of feel I am still way better off than some people. But I don’t know! Then again, what you say makes sense, as well. I am hoping that it will only be temporary, too! OMG! I have to get a job! Oh, I can’t even think what will happen if I don’t! I can’t head in that direction at the moment!

    So, thanks again Sid. Oh, yes. I wouldn’t have had any clue about frozen ground beef in a tube, either! I have now seen “non-frozen” in tubes (or tube-like packaging) but it is sold as that just for larger quantities. Even still, the first time I saw that I thought it was kind of weird! *laughing*

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