An old man ambles in. He walks in with a mission, determined to get a seat. Success. He sits down and waits impatiently, his face expectant. The look on his face is mirrored around the room. It’s not long before the murmurs begin and the requests come in. The man calls me over and asks, “When will it arrive?”. I gently reassure him that it won’t be long. Seconds turn to minutes and minutes turn to what feels like eternity. The faces change and some look displeased. Finally it arrives. A token of kindness to each individual.
It never lasts long though. Soon, people want more and understandably so. Many become agitated and a few become resigned. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Some are not content and want more than what we can give them. It works somehow and everything goes round. A few even manage to take some home.
There is a constant stream of people and there is never an empty seat in sight. Within seconds it is occupied. A few people are reluctant to leave as the afternoon draws to a close.The atmosphere is fraught at times with people not happy about waiting so long.
A quick scan around the room reveals the difference. A mixture of old and young people with the latter proportionally higher. This is concerning.
Where did it all go wrong?
They all formed an orderly queue and entered before the arranged time. One long stream of adults of varying ages waiting to be fed.
It was the first time I had volunteered at a place that provides hot food to the community few days in a week. It is one thing to read the statistics and it is another to see for yourself food poverty in action. There is no denying that it has been on the rise in recent years along with food banks being used more often. For many they rely on services like this to provide food for them.
I believe that food poverty is a symptom of a much deeper underlying cause. It is complex and there are so many different factors to consider. It is so easy to say that people are just not helping themselves. After all, it is much more comfortable to just place blame elsewhere and sweep the issue under the carpet. Food poverty has many layers that, like an onion needs to be peeled. One thing I know for sure is that something has to change and maybe, just maybe things will improve in the next coming years.