Toronto food banks have changed this 19-year old single mom's life

As CBC's annual fundraiser Sounds of the Season continues, we are hearing from people who turn to food banks to feed their families, including 19-year old single mom Karley Mitchell.

Karley Mitchell says food banks have lifted a weight off her shoulders

Karley Mitchell and her 10-month old son rely on local food bands to help them get by. (Submitted by Karley Mitchell)

Karley Mitchell, a 19-year old single mom living in York region, has turned to local food banks and the neighbourhood charity support centre, 360 Kids, to help feed herself and her baby. 

Mitchell spoke to Metro Morning's Matt Galloway on Friday about what her life is like. 

Questions and answers have been condensed for brevity.

Matt Galloway (MG): What is life like raising a baby on your own? 

Karley Mitchell: Being a mom is hard regardless. But being a teenage mom is really hard because you've got to figure out how you're going to take care of yourself and another human. How you're going to balance the money, where everything is going to come from. What you can do to make them happy to make sure they're living the life that you want them to live.

MG: Can I ask how much you have to live on every month? 

KM: Maybe $1,500 a month. And at the end of it sometimes I'm just left with between a $100 and $50 and I have to make that work, that's just after all the bills are paid.

MG: How do you make ends meet with just $50 and $100 a month with two people to feed?

KM: Either food banks. Or 360 Kids.

MG: What is 360 Kids?

KM: To me, its like another home, I'm able to be more comfortable with other people. I'm able to say hi and meet new people than if I'm outside on my own. They help out if you're homeless and you need a place to sleep or you need help finding a home, or a job, or with clothing, food. And they make meals between breakfast and dinner so it's like having an extra house.

MG: What was it like the first time you went to a food bank?

KM: Just a relief that I'm able to feed my son and put food in his mouth or give him the diapers that he needs and just to make sure that there's actually food in my house.

MG: Do you think there is a lesson for people who are listening who think they may never need a food bank? 

KM: Even though you think you might not need a food bank or you have enough money to cover groceries it's good to keep in mind that you have something to lean back on just because something might happen. That money you have for the groceries you might need that for an emergency.

You're able to go somewhere and get food to feed your family without having all these questions or having to feel like there's so much weight on you, you have to provide all this, you don't know where it's coming from.

MG: If we were to talk this time next year where would you want to be? 

KM: I want to be finishing college. I really want to be a child and youth worker. I like helping people out and seeing their life change because you devoted your time to them. I just want to put my son in a good home, have steady money coming in and just give him the life that a child should have. 

MG: Could you imagine yourself going back and working at 360 Kids?

KM: Yes I would, I really would. Every time I see the staff I always tell them, "I'm going to be you." My big goal is to open up something like 360 Kids and actually get involved and do something. 

Sounds of the Season, CBC's annual charity drive in support of local food banks, is underway till the end of December. Over $340,000 was raised for Daily Bread Food Bank during last Friday's open house. But there's still more time left to donate online and drop off non-perishable food items at CBC HQ (250 Front Street West). 

With files from Metro Morning