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#FacesOfNSWelfare - a trip to the food bank

by Editor

Being poor is hard work. Just a trip to a food bank can mean hours of waiting outside for your turn. Photo Mid-Ohio Food Bank
Being poor is hard work. Just a trip to a food bank can mean hours of waiting outside for your turn. Photo Mid-Ohio Food Bank

This piece, written by an Adsum House social worker, was originally posted on the Adsum for Women and Children facebook page. Reposted with permission

 

I watched "My Week on Welfare" last night.

The documentary highlights a few of the issues about accessing food banks but does not give an actual idea of what it is like...

So let's say I know how to access information on the closest food bank, and I happen to have a phone or the internet to get that information. I have used 211 twice in the previous 6 months to get information on Foodbanks. Twice I was given false information about the times....

Yesterday a client and I went to go to a Foodbank, because her cheque was delayed in the mail... and the food bank at our location wasn't until Thursday. So all other issues aside, we show up at the time it was suppose to open at. There are people outside so we knew we were at the right place. I drop her off and then go park (because the closest parking was a block up). I start asking a lady outside some questions because I was only familiar with one Foodbank. It turned out the Foodbank did not open at 1:30 pm. It opens at 3:00 pm. People start lining up at 1:00 pm and the line usually goes around the block by 3:00 pm... she said if you go that late, you do not generally get in. This food bank happens to be weekly.. So I left it up to the client if she wanted to wait (standing or sitting on the sidewalk) in the hot sun for 1.5 hours until it opened and then however long after that to get through (of course I didn't frame it that way to her)... After waiting 30 minutes, she couldn't do it anymore and we made a plan for her to come to Adsum House for dinner to get her through until Foodbank at her location... But most people there didn't have that choice... The one lady we were speaking to is there every week at 1:00 pm waiting for two hours to get in because she depends on it.

So imagine the extra circumstances around that if someone had to bus there.

Today another client and I went to a different Foodbank by her house.. We showed up to line up. there was 7 or 8 people in front of us. We waited 1.5 hours in the sun to get in. With no place to sit. When she got in, they were mostly out of food. She was lucky enough to get some tomatoes and cucumbers, a box of cereal, three individual packs apple sauce, two cans of soup, and a pasta sauce with noodle. That is what a "full" order is there that you can get once a month. The 4 people in line behind her were turned away... Most of them waited almost as long as we had. During the time we waited, there were a few tiny scraps over whose place was whose in line because they had no system, people just keep track of it themselves as they herd in a crowd in the small space provided.

The first time I went with a client to a Foodbank this spring we waited 3 hours for her to get in. If we were to add a bus ride there and back (in which she would only be able to get half of she would get due to carrying limitations), that is like a 5 hour day to get food.

I know everyone here at Adsum recognizes the challenges faced by people on Income Assistance. No wonder people struggle to have the energy to do more than just survive.

 


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Topics: Poverty
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