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

Kitimat registers biggest drop in property assessments

The residential property in the north with the highest value was $2.892 million

Former mayor Ray Brady passes away

“What I can say is that he was passionate about his beliefs and he would fight for them.”

CDC’s housing section looking for new home

CDC executive director says it has until Jan. 31 to move out.

Shames Mountain named one of the world’s Top 10 ski resorts

The UK magazine listed Shames alongside Whistler and hills in Italy, Japan and Austria

Who wants to live here?

Northwest governments partner on marketing plan to attract workforce, residents

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

Vancouver Island marijuana producer bought by Aphria in $230M deal

Aphria’s annual production forecast increases to 230,000 kgs

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Video: B.C. documentary features Okanagan ice climbing

First documentary for Penticton filmmaker captures elusive Okanagan ice climbing

David Emerson quits lumber talks as legal action begins

Former federal minister served as B.C. softwood trade point man

Singer of the Cranberries dead at 46

Her publicist says Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly Monday in London. The cause of death wasn’t immediately available.

Most Read