Realities of poverty
Between 2008 and 2014 Food Bank usage in Manitoba increased by 50.5%. During that same time period Oak Table saw it's daily attendance multiply three-fold. Hunger is a persistent problem in our country and in our city. Many of us think about the poor at Christmastime when toy and food drives are most prevalent; but hunger is something that is experienced by 850,000 Canadians each month. According to a 2012 study by the Canadian Health institute 4 million Canadians experienced some level of food insecurity. The rate of poverty in Canada is among the highest of all industrialized nations.
We see Construction workers, artists, limo drivers, teachers, nurses, and seniors at Oak table; you likely envision these people as volunteers, but these are also some of the people who are guests of Oak Table. They may have experienced a mid or late life job loss, a relationship breakdown, abuse or addiction or mental illness. They may be on disability or seniors whose income doesn't stretch to cover their expenses each month.
Poverty is a downward spiral ......1 in 10 families cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. People we see each day often are required to make the choice between paying their rent and buying food. For some, soup kitchens are the only security between them and homelessness as more and more affordable housing turns into upscale condominiums. They depend on us not only for a nourishing meal, but shoes, jackets, clean socks and underwear, toothpaste, shampoo, razors, and the like. Some come for conversation, or to join a friend in a game of scrabble. Others need a place to get out of the heat or cold. All can use a friendly "hello" and be greeted by name.