People and programs 04/19/2021

"When the first lockdown happened, accessing food was a problem. Whatever jobs I had, everything got cancelled. And not wanting to use public transit in the winter, I just wanted to stay home.

And then I got this telephone call asking if I wanted to get onto this program at Harmony Community Food Centre where they brought fully-cooked frozen meals to my door. And I said yes, sure. Why not?

That was really quite impressive. Everything from when they were cooking, the sounds they made, the smells coming from my toaster oven, the look of the dishes when I put them on the table. The whole thing just gave me a nice warm feeling.

I’m a 54-year-old disabled lady, widowed for the last four years. I once had means, things changed, and now I’m on ODSP—one of the many living below the poverty line.

I used to work as a supervisor at a market research firm, doing the interviewing on the other end of the phone. I did that for a number of years until this bone disease that I have made it too painful to go into work.

When I have the rare opportunity to work now, I get to be part of the working poor—still living under the poverty line. Most of what I make goes toward paying the rent.

Food insecurity has always been with me. I’ve gone from literally not eating for most of a week [when I was young], to being able to go out to The Keg for lobster and prime rib, and eat around the world.


Now, I won’t say that I’m starving, because I have food. But what I don’t have is the mix of food. Different sources of nutrition. I could get through a winter, but it’s noodles and stock every night.

After my husband died, we had just come back to this part of Toronto. No friends, my family’s not nearby. I got into volunteering with several community organizations. And that’s how I discovered all these various programs, including the new Harmony Community Food Centre.

I didn’t have to be alone. I met like-minded knitters and crocheters, people to talk to who had the same experience. We could all talk about being widows together—I was brand new at it and learning the ropes. And also, since I’m on social assistance, it was nice to be able to do something for the people who are helping me.

And it also helps me personally. Dinner is always the most depressing time of the day, since my husband died. So having a nice meal at dinner time is really helpful for my state of mind.

You never know when something is going to happen and you can no longer afford food, [...] it can happen practically overnight. We were in this situation. We didn’t know what to do when we suddenly couldn’t afford food anymore. We didn’t know that we could go places.