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

Pacific Insight to close in April

The remaining employees at the Nelson automotive manufacturing facility to be laid off

RCMP bike patrol coming to Castlegar

The pair of bicycles will be from a local shop and cost over $6,000 each.

Castlegar orders new fire truck to replace engine, rescue vehicle

The 2020 vehicle was purchased for about $750,000

Snow hosts available to help you explore the Rossland Range

Safe and responsible way to learn about Rossland Recreation Site

Trail cannabis shop gets green light from province

The Higher Path hopes to open doors in next couple of weeks

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after knee injury

Pettersson said he wasn’t feeling any pain during Wednesday’s skate

Most Read