They’re not ‘food insecure’ – they’re hungry

Pillar to Post By Craig Westcott

I was delivering papers one day earlier this year and had just pulled into a parking spot at a convenience store when I noticed a young couple in an older model car slide in next to me.

They looked hesitant about something and seemed to be waiting for me to go do my business. I locked the door and went into the store to drop off my bundle.

When I came out, I saw why they were nervous. The young fellow, tall and thin and probably in his thirties, was jumping up inside the store’s big steel dumpster behind the building and fishing around in the trash below. He bobbed up with a green 2 litre carton of milk. He opened it, sniffed it, and called over his shoulder that it seemed okay. He leapt back inside the dumpster and hauled out two more milk cartons, laying them carefully on the pavement so they wouldn’t break.

That was early this summer, before inflation really took off pushing the price of food beyond reach for more people.

You hear it every year, that more and more people are relying on food banks.

This year, you can feel it. People are going hungry. The woke would say they are “food insecure.” That’s one of the stupidest terms I’ve heard in a long time. People are hungry. Their stomachs are growling, their mouths are watering, and they don’t have enough money to buy food.

Yes, inflation is mostly to blame, inflation caused by a shortage of goods from China (when we will ever end our dependence on China?) and sky-high oil prices pushed upwards by Russian’s attack on Ukraine. Meanwhile, the oil companies, the banks, and the big grocery chains are reporting record profits.

Great Britain is looking at imposing a windfall tax on the super profits of its oil companies. Our government should also impose windfall taxes on the oil companies, banks and grocery chains until they start lowering their prices.

All this pressure on food prices is happening when many people are also facing rent hikes and a shrinking rental market.

Canada, and Newfoundland included, has decided to paper over the cracks in our labour market by not just opening the gates to immigrants, but pulling the whole fence down and letting as many flood forward as can get in.

Immigration is good for the country, true. It’s made our economy one of the strongest in the world, and our society one of the best educated and vibrant. But the level of immigration we’re at now is contributing to homelessness and diverting the government’s attention from the poor and helpless who are falling through the cracks.

It takes four of us to deliver The Shoreline every week to the vast area we serve – basically most of the Avalon. It’s the biggest circulation newspaper now in the province. I take turns with the other drivers doing different routes, so I see many people and a lot of places every week. One of the routes takes me past the Gathering Place on Thursday evenings after I drop off papers at the Sobey’s on Merrymeeting Road and head to the Dominion on Lake Avenue. Every night, there is a lineup on Military Road of people – young people, old people, many with mental health problems – hoping to find a safe place to sleep for the night.

They are the luckier ones, those who get a bed. I wonder about the ones who don’t.

Canada, including Newfoundland, is one of the richest places in the world. If we can’t build three or four shelters, a couple of dormitories, an apartment building, anything with enough beds or small apartments to house 400 or 500 desperate people, to keep them from starving, or freezing to death, or being beat up on the street, or abused at home, then why are we paying taxes? The Hon. Seamus O’Regan recently announced funding for some kind of such housing in Pleasantville. The Province should also step up.

The provincial government spends more money every year on its public relations arm – what they call The Office of Public Engagement (another weasel term like food insecure) than it does on trying to house our homeless.

That’s my Christmas wish this year: that our governments do what’s right and truly help the homeless. I pray for that, and I wish that Vladimir Putin somehow ends up in the hands of Ukrainian patriots so that he can get his just desserts. I know it’s wrong to wish someone ill, but that jerk has it coming to him.

Merry Christmas.

Slava Ukraini.

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