Sunday, March 9, 2014

Give Until it Hurts

I was on facebook recently.  One of my "liked" peoples is a local couponer.  Most of the time she posts about deals or the dreadful London weather.  But she mentioned couponing for the local food bank.  Intrigued by the couple of comments I clicked on the entire thread.  And.it.was.eye.opening.

You have to understand.  I'm from the US.  We hear things about Canada.  We have a different government set-up but there are similarities.  In the US there isn't a department that deals with everything.  Here's a brief comparison.

US- WIC program (Women, Infants, Children) gives special checks with specific foods that you can get from the store.  It's for low income families of young children.

School Lunch program- provides free or reduced lunch and breakfast to school age children at school

Canada- Child tax benefit.  Every Canadian citizen/resident of 18+ months receives a check for having children.

No school lunch provided universally- Non-profits end up helping out especially since most elementary schools do not have cafeterias and parents are expected to remove child for lunch or brown bag it.

US- Medicade- provides health insurance for low income families/persons.

Canada- Universal health care for all citizens and residences (who qualify under different Provencal statutes) does not cover eye for adults or dental for anyone

US- Section 8 housing- They come and inspect homes than will provide rent to low income families/persons.

Cash assistance-  money to be used for goods and utilities

SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program)- regulated by the individual states to provide food for low income families/persons

Canada- There is three types of assistance 1) for disability, 2) immigrants of a certain type (such as refugees) and 3) low-income.  I haven't been to get what the income level threshold is.  There's nothing listed on Ontario's website.  If you do qualify, they send you a month check.  You pay what you need.

So here's the OMG! really!  moment for me.  Basically if you have children in school, you don't get much help with food if you are low-income, from the government at least.  If you are low-income, there will be some months where your check won't stretch that far.  You have to decide to feed yourself or pay for heat.  Seriously.

The coupon lady described what you are given in a month from the local food bank, which is really the only source of food.  It was about 2 days worth of food for a family of four.  Seriously.  I, having been on WIC, wanted to sob.  You get things like a ream of crackers, and an orange.  It was so bare minimum.  

To make it worse, there were people nodding their heads stating that there were some days where they and their spouse didn't eat so that their children could.  Not one person.  Several.

My jaw hit the floor.

Isn't Canada supposed to be one of those liberal countries compared to the US?  Don't they have a government food program?  Why is this happening?

I'm the girl who when people ask for money outside the grocery store in the US digs into her groceries and offers food to be told "no, thinks I got food stamps (aka SNAP)".  And just north of me (and south) are countries where people have no food programs and the local food bank struggles.  Horrifically.

I told Hubby that was it.  Every time I step into the store I'm buying at least one thing and sticking it into the drop-off area they have in the mall.  The grocery store is inside a mall.  I've never been big on donating to food banks.  I do when the church would ask or the post office had food drives but never just because.  Well, that's gonna change.  I had no idea how crazy the system is.  Seriously giving money away to families with kids regardless of income but no food program for low income families.  That's just....wrong.

Give us this day, our daily bread...indeed.


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