Working full time, but still relying on Toronto's food banks
'After rent, hydro, water and all your bills, the money doesn't stretch'
There were more than one million visits to food banks in Toronto over the past year.
About a third of those visits were from children. Others were from people with disabilities. Others had full time jobs but still couldn't make ends meet.
Angela Graham is one of those people. She is a single mother of five who works full-time hours but needs the help from local food banks.
"After rent, hydro, water and all your bills, the money doesn't stretch," she said.
Graham said after all living expenses are paid, she finds herself with little left for food. She mentioned in one example she was left with $88 for two weeks of groceries. She buys the essentials, milk, butter and eggs. She'll often feed her children what's on sale, hot dogs or chicken nuggets.
Her annual income is less than $30,000 a year.
'You either go to the food bank, or you starve'
"When I first went, I was probably like one of those people thinking, 'okay, only people on welfare go to the food bank,'" she said.
"You either go to the food bank or your starve. When I first lost my job in 2012, I went without for about four months, and then I had to make a decision about feeding my kids or not."
She said the food banks were not what she expected. People there were friendly and welcoming.
"I cried when they were asking me for my identification so I could apply for the food bank. I felt very embarrassed for having to be there," she said. "I tell my coworkers I volunteer at the food bank so I don't feel bad that I'm making the same amount of money but I have to go to the food bank."
Although she feels the sting of the stigma around food banks, she said she hoped people would withhold judgement of her. She said she doesn't want to rely on welfare, but needs to give her family the essentials.
"I'm very grateful that there is a food bank out there to help me and my family when I'm in need," said Graham.
On Friday, December 4th, CBC kicks off Sounds of the Season, a month long campaign to raise funds and food for local food banks. You can donate until December 31st on location at participating Ontario CBC stations, online at this site or or by phone at 1-855-768-7222 (1-855-SOTS-CBC).