PENINSULA ZOOMERS: ‘No reason to be ashamed for reaching out’

Sharing food brings out problems and solutions on Peninsula

Food glorious food

We’re anxious to try it

Three banquets a day

Our favourite diet.

A famous lament from the starving workhouse orphans in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist as they dream of a full stomach of culinary delights instead of the gruel forced upon them.

Usually, we are more likely to reminisce about Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at this time of year where poor downtrodden Bob Cratchit has to eke out an edible Christmas dinner for his large family.

Thank goodness we don’t live in Victorian times, you are probably thinking as you prepare your gourmet menus for the Christmas and holiday season. There will certainly be no gruel or an anemic goose on your festive tables this year. Just delicious food and more food!

But sadly, not for everyone on the Peninsula.

The staff and 70 volunteers of the Sources Food Bank in White Rock/South Surrey know too well about the food insecurity prevalent in our community.

At Sources, the focus is on improving social wellness for our community and social justice for all. At their White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank, they do this with a strong belief in equal access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food from sustainable food sources – what is known as food security.

The food bank opened its doors approximately 35 years ago as a temporary support to the unemployed in our area. Today, it still exists to provide food and support to not only the unemployed, but those on a fixed income (such as disability and pensions), as well as the working poor and the homeless.

Of the 1,526 clients, 12 percent are seniors and 30 percent are children.

According to Jaye Murray, manager of Sources Food Bank, “food security is a right. We shouldn’t exist… but we’re still here.”

Unfortunately, the problem of food insecurity is a systemic one but remains embedded in the charitable realm.

Murray believes it is a government responsibility to provide a living wage and more realistic welfare rates so that there isn’t the reliance on the food bank.

Meanwhile, the number of recipients continues to increase with people in need coming more often. On Tuesday morning, they are lined up before the doors open at 2343 156 St.

She believes there are likely more seniors in need who simply are not presenting themselves to the food bank due to the stigma. One of the seniors who relies on the food bank is Ingrid, 75.

On a fixed income, Ingrid presents as well-dressed and younger than stated age. With rent and the cost of living so high, she is grateful for the food bank, and she urges seniors “not to be ashamed to reach out if you need help.”

Another proponent for food security in our community is the Surrey/White Rock Food Action Coalition, which is a group of citizens, agencies and other leaders in collaborative food-security work.

They have created the Seeds of Change, whose main vision is food security for all residents of Surrey through a sustainable and resilient food system which focuses on four main areas, namely income, food literacy, access and distribution.

As I write this, I am still shocked at the hidden poverty in our affluent community. But, luckily, our community is a generous and supportive one.

Please consider a gift of money to the Sources Food Bank, which increases their food-buying power as they can purchase in bulk. Your local CARP chapter has made a donation and we encourage you to do the same.

Merry Christmas and as Dickens penned, “God Bless Us, Everyone!”

See you in 2018!

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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Jaye Murray, manager of Sources’ South Surrey Food Bank. (File photo)

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