Everyday items often overlooked in food donations

NANAIMO: Living in poverty is basically a full-time occupation.

To the Editor,

I hope there is no offense taken with this letter where none was intended.

My goal is to let the public know that there are many areas that are so often overlooked when providing for the less fortunate in Nanaimo and the surrounding communities.

Although food is a primary concern for those on welfare, people with multiple barriers and those, like myself, who are classified as people with disabilities, there are so many things that are overlooked by supermarkets when putting bags of food together.

This is just a short list of things that go beyond basic food items: toilet paper, diapers, pads/tampons, cleaning products, dish and laundry soap, toothpaste and razors. Items like condiments – ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise and pickles – just aren’t in anyone’s budget. Almost one-third of my grocery costs are on non-food items.

Although the cost of food along with rent, hydro (which doubled a year ago), and groceries climbs higher annually, our income has remained unchanged for more than a decade. In an era when public ‘servants’ can give themselves a 30 per cent salary increase, we at the other end of the income spectrum struggle from month to month trying to decide whether we should pay all our rent or buy all the groceries we need.

It’s unimaginable to realize the stress when you can only buy half the things on your grocery list. It’s a continual refining of one’s list for the month to have some semblance of food that will make meals for the month.  What can’t be bought one month, goes onto the list for the next month.

Personally, I have a hiatus hernia and I can’t eat spicy foods. So, the spaghetti sauce which is in every bag of donated food is something I can’t eat … I give it away. I use the pasta with a can of tuna and if I have mayonnaise, I make a cold casserole.

Perhaps supermarkets might catch on and put some of these things into freezer bags, or supermarket bags. I understand that these items cost more than what the public is currently spending for the poor in the community.

Another example is few – very few – of the agencies that offer toilet paper, can only supply one roll. And lastly, these agencies are set so far apart across the city, and it’s like pulling teeth to get all the information needed to live.

Living in poverty is basically a full-time occupation.

Catherine Melnyk

via e-mail

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