Food for Thought Blog

The Faces of Hunger: Wendy’s story

September 21st, 2023Awareness, Stories

Everyone has a story—and by sharing stories about food insecurity in Waterloo region, we hope to raise awareness and educate our community that hunger can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This is Wendy’s story.

Hunger can happen to anyone at any time. For Wendy Gale, it happened when she retired. Without an RRSP (registered retirement savings plan) and only a low OAS (Old Age Security) and CPP (Canadian Pension Plan), she became a low-income senior overnight. And since she had been raised not to ask for help, she didn’t. To afford necessities like food and rent, she sold her car, cancelled her Internet, and stuck to a strict budget.

“I got so depressed going grocery shopping,” Wendy says. “I felt like I didn’t want to eat anymore because the food was so expensive. There were so many things I couldn’t afford.”

It took a few years but eventually Wendy gained the courage to reach out to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region for support.

“It was extremely difficult for me to ask for help,” Wendy remembers. “I took an hour to pick up the phone.”

After that first phone call, Wendy received a hamper filled with a variety of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable food from a Community Food Assistance Network agency partner. She remembers it to this day.

“I had a craving for peanut butter,” she recalls. “The first thing that came out of the bag was a small jar of Kraft peanut butter. I wanted a treat and there it was.”

Another food hamper she received stands out in her memory.

“I started crying because I didn’t feel alone anymore,” she explains. “I felt connected to the community. Somebody had to make it. Somebody had to deliver it. It’s not just a food hamper coming to your door, it’s a community. It’s community in your bag.”

To others in need of food assistance, Wendy says there’s no shame in asking for help.

“It’s okay to ask for help, to make that first step, to start that conversation… however awkward you are, however scared you are. The minute you call in, you have an advocate for yourself.”