I called the food bank because the lady at the nonprofit credit counselling services agency gave me a sheet of resources after I told her my grocery budget was $100 a month. She was like “that’s totally not realistic” and I said OK, fair enough, $150. I was thinking of the giant tub of protein powder that I just bought for $100, and then I would just need milk to go with it, right? Well apparently a grocery budget supposed to be at least 3 times that. She asked what about eating out? And I was like ha ha Ha! That’s funny! Well, I do have the $1.50 hotdog every time I go to Costco.
So she said even if they could just start coming up with some of the basics, I’d be in a better place, and I thought OK. So I called them on Friday. They still had a file on me from my old address, so it must be at least three years ago, but I didn’t have to answer any questions or anything. They directed me to the crisis centre which is actually near my house, so I went there this morning.
I drank all the milk last night, so my fridge contains a bag of apples, the eggs from Costco that I still haven’t cooked, peanut butter and jam and syrup and salad dressing. The freezer has frozen peas, frozen bananas, a couple of pieces of frozen meat, and a few little bags of frozen vegetables. Then rice and lentils in the pantry, and that’s it.
When I’ve been going grocery shopping, I usually get a bag of frozen fruit from Costco for $10 or $15 to make smoothies with, some bread, milk, and maybe some frozen veggies. So my nails are pretty much a coffee or a pop in the morning, the smoothie throughout the day, and then some toast or a bowl of frozen peas when I get home.
I wasn’t expecting much, because when you pass the food bank donation bags to buy at the store it’s all dry pasta, spaghetti sauce, mac-and-cheese, and cans of beans.
So there I was waiting in the waiting room, trying not to cry, thinking I would probably get a couple of regular grocery bags of stuff. And feeling really pissed off about the rental laws. Five years ago I was living in a place that was like $550 less, but that was the place that I had to take the landlord to court because he couldn’t bolt the toilet to the floor and wouldn’t pay someone to do it. Let’s say that place was $800. So then I moved into the main floor suite, for $950. Then after living there for two years, he raised the rent to $1100. Then the place was absolutely infested with mice, to the point where I couldn’t even leave silverware in the cupboards because the mice ran all over the house at night. So I had all of my dish cloths and silverware in Ziploc bags, and had these cartons of nitro gloves from Costco and Lysol wipes, and the mice had shit all inside the stove so it was totally unusable, and the landlord wasn’t willing to do anything about it. So I moved again. To a place that was $1300. Because it’s only $200 more, but that was the best that I could find. Then it was $50 more. So now I’m paying $1350 a month, plus power, which is more than one of my two week paychecks.
I guess it’s like being house poor, because I don’t have a mortgage or any fucking equity, there’s no point to it. So I’m sitting here thinking about how I’ve worked harder and harder and I’m just getting further and further behind, and I’m literally tearing up sitting in the food bank waiting room. Finally they called my name, and there’s little tables where you can unload their boxes into your bags. Holy shit. I don’t know when I have bought a grocery haul like that. I’m absolutely sure that’s the kind of stuff that my parents and my sister got when they’re grocery shopping, but this is totally news to my fridge.
Fucking fresh cauliflower, fresh broccoli, radishes, an eggplant, a brick of cheese, a brick of cream cheese, a carton of milk, a bag of some sort of frizzly fancy salad leaves, a huge tub of potato salad, two loaves of bread and a bag of buns. A bag of sugar and one of brown sugar, A couple of bottles of Gatorade that will be handy for when I get a migraine, a bag of cereal, a couple of boxes of mac & cheese, a can of salmon, A bunch of snacky type stuff like granola bars and fruit roll ups, and a tray of eight plain individual chocolate cakes. I mean, holy shit. I kind of expected gruel and bruised fruit or something.
So I’ll be cooking today, to make sure none of this goes to waste. And when I’m in a better place, I’m going to pay it back.