Food for Thought Blog
What does a 16 year old want for Christmas?
If a person is down on their luck and you keep knocking them down, they are never going to get back up. But if you give them a helping hand, they will eventually be able to stand on their own two feet. That’s what you do every time you give to The Food Bank. I’m living proof.
My name is Vittoria and at 16 years old, I was a single mother living in a tiny basement apartment, trying to juggle all the expenses of a young family: diapers, baby food, rent, bills, food. Even with a supportive family and assistance from Ontario Works, I was struggling to keep my head above water.
Right before the holidays, I found myself really short on cash. I was worried sick about making Christmas special for my two little ones. That’s when I reached out to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, who connected me to a food program in my community.
The Food Bank made it very easy for someone so young, with children of her own, to ask for help. There was no judgement. No shame. They treated me with respect, like a human being. It was really, really refreshing and I’ll always be grateful. I was given a Christmas hamper filled with food, baby essentials (like a soother and teething ring) and all the ingredients for a special Christmas dinner. They even gave me a couple of little gifts for the kids that I could wrap myself and add to the small gifts I managed to buy.
I can’t say it was a normal Christmas, but the support of The Food Bank made it so much better. I’m 26 years old now, established in my career, and in a position to give back. This Christmas, I’ll be doing everything I can to help people in our community who need support, people who would otherwise fall through the cracks.
Food Banks are a Critical Community Service
I know so many people in our community who live pay cheque to pay cheque. Some months you can’t afford both hydro and food. Other months you can’t pay rent and buy food. Tough choices have to be made and, often, it is food you go without.
Food banks are a critical community service – a way for neighbours to help neighbours when they need it most. But food banks rely on community support to make it all happen.
How am I going to feed my children?
I’ll never forget the second time I needed The Food Bank. I’d been waiting for my child benefit cheque to arrive because I had already spent the baby bonus on essentials. When the cheque was lost, I was crushed. $100 was a huge amount of money to me back then. I phoned to see about getting the cheque re-issued but they told me it would take a few days.
All I could think was: how am I going to feed my children?
I called The Food Bank at 3 p.m. and I received food the very next morning. They knew it was an emergency and were there to help. They understood that when you need food, you need food. Without The Food Bank, things could have turned out very differently.
As time went on, I worked really hard to make sure we didn’t continue to need support. My kids are now 12 and 9 and I have a great job. I can afford to give my family a nice Christmas.
Hunger doesn’t discriminate and there are a variety of circumstances someone may be unable to put food on their table. Learn more about how to make a difference this holiday season at: www.thefoodbank.ca.