Normally, I have a large soy latte in the morning that delivers both the espresso kick and a liquid breakfast that keeps me going until lunchtime. However, because of the Thrive on $6.65 challenge, I forego the latte and find myself getting hungry sooner in the day. I start snacking on raw almonds around 10:30 a.m. and then wolf down my rice and moong dal lunch re-heated from the night before.
When City Council meetings take place, I know that I’m in for a long day – both emotionally and physically. Today was no exception. There were over 100 items on the agenda. Issues ranging from the new harmonized zoning by-laws, to shelter beds, arts funding and even a lease agreement for a hamburger franchise was scheduled for debate.
The anti-poverty activists were there to ensure City Council properly fund and re-commit ourselves to provide an adequate number of shelter beds. For months, there were reports that homeless people were unable to locate warm and safe shelter during the winter. It’s become increasing clear to me that something is terribly misaligned when the conflicting reports between city staff, frontline workers and shelter users continue to surface.
Although it’s still hovering around zero degrees outside, the Out of the Cold program supported by the City of Toronto, managed by Dixon Hall and operated by its multi-faith partners have just closed up their soup kitchen and temporary beds for the winter season. Keep in mind, that just because the shelters beds are not available and the soup kitchens have closed, this does not mean the homeless people have ‘disappeared.’
After sitting in the council chambers for ten and a half hours, the frustrated anti-poverty activists were told to go home. The Speaker “recessed” the council meeting and the shelter debate is postponed until tomorrow.
Since I can’t join my friends for dinner at the local pub because “my budget” would not permit it, I wait until I get back to my place to eat.
It’s been three days since I’ve been able to dine out and I’m starting to feel the growing isolation created by my “fixed-income.” Much of my everyday socializing takes place in restaurants and when one has no money, one does not go out.
Instead, I go home hungry and wondering how the impoverish and homeless residents in Toronto, a city of tremendous wealth, continue to keep faith in the face of adversity. I’m grateful that my fixed-income challenge will end this Sunday. Tragically their hunger for food, shelter and social justice will continue with no immediate end in sight. God bless each and every single one of them.
Tonight’s dinner (served rather late) is oven roasted mini potatoes, acorn squash and sweet yam marinated in olive oil, thyme, rosemary, Newfoundland savoury, salt, pepper served with kale tossed with beet and lemon juice, horseradish and apple cider.