Over the past year, a total of 470 people in 223 households received assistance from the food bank at least once. Mathie Franchuk is one of them, trying to make it through the month on a small disability payment. (John Arendt/Summerland Review)

An ongoing struggle with poverty

Summerland woman relies on regular support from food bank

Money is tight for Mathie Franchuk.

The Summerland woman receives less than $1,100 a month from her disability payment.

She pays $750 a month to rent a small trailer and she pays rent on a small storage unit for some of her possessions. Her other regular expense is a cell phone, which costs $40 a month.

She keeps her possessions in storage, hoping for the day when she will be able to return to a better lifestyle.

In the past, she worked as an antique picker and made a good living in this work. However, her lifestyle today has changed as she tries to make ends meet on the meagre disability payment she receives each month.

“I can’t live on what I get,” she said.

Because of her difficult finances, Franchuk has had to forego expenses, including some much-needed dental work. Even a small additional expense becomes a significant obstacle.

Franchuk is a regular at the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre.

“The food bank here in Summerland is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Those who use the food bank can pick up food once a month, although supplementary food distribution is available for those in need.

The trailer does not provide much space for Franchuk and her two dogs, Thunder and Blood Brother.

She would like to move into a place better suited for her and the dogs but adds that it is difficult to find a place she could afford that will accommodate the animals. She has references for the dogs.

“My two dogs are my everything,” she said. “These dogs are my family.”

Rental costs have increased in Summerland and the rest of the region in recent years.

When Franchuk moved to the South Okanagan from Vancouver a few years ago, she was able to find places to rent at $550 a month. Today, it is hard to find anything under $800 a month. Her trailer is one of the few exceptions.

At times, she has taken to panhandling in an attempt to bring in more money to meet her needs, even though panhandling is not permitted in Summerland.

Instead of panhandling, she would like to get a part-time job to supplement her disability income.

Franchuk continues to hope for a time when she will be able to live a little more comfortably, a time when money will not be so scarce.

But she does not anticipate a change anytime soon.

“I can’t see myself getting out of this situation,” she said.

John Bubb, president of the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, said he would like to see more in place to assist those in need within the community.

The food bank and resource centre provides food, computer access, laundry equipment and other support, but Bubb would also like to see a drop-in centre for people who need to warm up on cold days.

Bubb added that Franchuk’s story is not unique. During the past year, 49 Summerland households received food from the food bank for at least nine months.

Over the past year, a total of 470 people in 223 households received assistance from the food bank at least once.

“It’s a really important issue in the community,” he said. “It’s such a difficult situation.”

Each month across Canada, more than 850,000 people use food banks for assistance. More than one-third are children and youths.

According to First Call, a coalition of child and youth advocates, 691,710 British Columbians live in poverty.

Just Posted

Vancouver Giants earn a weekend sweep against Everett

Langley-based hockey team plays its next game is at home on Friday, Sept. 28, against Seattle.

Krista Cardinal announces bid for Abbotsford school board

Cardinal points to Fraser Health experience listening to and assisting with patient, doctor needs

Abbotsford company among 500 fastest growing in Canada

Valley Carriers keeps spot on Growth 500 list, but drops from 398 last year to 408 this year

Gill said release containing favouritism allegations was ‘booboo’: Braun

Mayor says subsequent statements by mayoral foe cast doubt on wish for ‘nice, honest contest’

Abbotsford committee documenting history of Philip Sheffield school

Members say the school’s history is a reflection of how its surrounding communities have changed over years

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

B.C. VIEWS: Looking under the hood of ICBC’s war on crashes

Is our accident rate really soaring, or is it inefficiency?

B.C. tent city residents have three weeks to clear out: Supreme Court

Fire risk, criminal activity in neighbourhood cited as reasons for judgment

Coaches, players on Alberta university rugby team buckle up for the Broncos

16 people died when Humboldt Broncos bus collided with a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan

The Vatican ‘owes God an apology,’ activist says in letter to Pope Francis

Letter came after a report on sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses

Newcomers vying to fill power void in Vancouver’s ‘weird’ election race: expert

A proliferation of new parties and independent candidates are crowding the Vancouver race

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Most Read