Monday, March 19, 2007

Does anybody else see anything wrong with this picture?

"Tasty tips for dumpster dining" shouts the headline, "FEEDING THE HOMELESS: Pamphlet offers advice to binners on how to find the best meal" article by Elaine O'Connor and Peter Severinson (Staff Reporters)

This newspaper article appeared in The Province on Thursday, July 6, 2006 and got buried in my office. I have been meaning to Post about it since then. In part the article reports: "A support organization for the homeless is giving out tips on how to dumpster-dive for food. Dumpster-diving is an "important way for people to access food in Grandview-Woodlands." the Grandview-Woodlands Food Connection coalition says in a pamphlet funded in part by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. [HEALTH Authority - can you believe it]
It continues: "James Brookes (pictured above) agrees. He gets most of his meals out of the garbage and says it's better than the free food at most shelters. The sheer number of binners is the biggest challenge, Brooks said. Yesterday morning he got lucky, spotting a store worker throwing out a bag of day-old doughnuts. He also found a box of Pop-Tarts past their expiry date and two yogurt cups. ... 'You more or less have to smell-test it,' Brooks said, stuffing the plastic cups into his vest pocket... For Brooks, dumpster-diving is a choice, not a necessity. 'I won't eat at the Salvation Army', he said. 'Too many people going through the line, [portions] aren't all that big, and it usually tastes like shit.'
hmmmm....last week i was driving my daughter home and we saw a huge rat running accross the road, and last summer we had to get the Pest Control guy in to get rid of a swarm of rats living behind our building. We also had to plug up the bins to keep the rats out. Almost on a daily basis we have dumpster divers rummaging around in our bins, even tho' we have posted "no trespassing" signs and on one or two occasions phoned the police to come and chase them away. I once saw a man eating right out of a bag as he and his buddy undid the big black plastic bags to root around in them and remove what they wanted, leaving the rest strewn all over the place. I told them to get out, but they just hurled obsenties at me. I just shook my head and sighed, recalling that the bag i had just thrown in the trash was filled with my cat's used Kitty Litter that i had just cleaned out of her box! Not to mention all the other used bathroom items and moldy kitchen stuff that had probably been sitting there for the past few days.
So when i read that "The coalition's Connecting the Dots brochure lists food banks and sources of free meals, and offers advice on the best ways to salvage from dumpsters." i was furious! AND further, "About 1,000 brochures - targetting low-income, immigrant and homeless resiidents - were printed in English and Spanish and distributed last week to centres such as the Multicultural Family Place, MOSAIC and Britannia. The project received $15,000 from the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority as well as funding from VanCity, The Vancouver Foundation and Simon Fraser University." Tring Tring....answer the Clue Line fellas, IT'S GARBAGE! ...sheesh!
In a time when we are seeing the comeback of polio and tuberculosis, not to mention new and unknown viruses that mystify health authorities, this is the best solution that an intelligent group of individuals can come up with to solve the problem of feeding the poor.
It is DISGRACEFUL that $15,000 + has been spent to encourage people to engage in such a shameful and potentially dangerous activity. People who for the most part already have compromized immune systems should not be rummaging around in garbage bins, for the most obvious of reasons.
Even as i write this, i sit and shake my head...and i think about the rate and how they were exterminated, using rat poison, causing a horribly slow and painful death, and i wonder if they had contaminated the food in our bin before they died, and then i realize i have not seen one or two of "our regulars"... and in particular the one thin, dirty man who i saw sitting in the bin, stuffing a handful of something from one of the ripped-open bags into his mouth. I have not seen him since the summer, and i wonder if he is alive or dead, or lying sick somewhere, and i wonder what we can do, in this nation of extreme wealth, to make sure that people don't feel compelled to rummage in the garbage bins of the nation to meet a basic need that most of us take for granted.