I was in the checkout line at the local Metro the other day when the cashier gave me a look of exasperation.
It seems she was going to be awhile, because the lady in front of me couldn’t afford to pay for her groceries.
Her card had been declined.
I glanced at the checkout screen.
It was $74.
The lady, who was elderly, began unloading a few items from the bags. A couple of apple pies. Some sliced meats. Some cheese.
Her card was again declined.
This time it was at $29.
I offered to pay for the rest.
My heart was broken.
I could barely see through my tears to put in my pin number.
Thank goodness I was wearing a mask. They are so absorbent.
The lady thanked me profusely, trying to find an explanation as to why her card was declined.
All I could think was, there but for the grace of God go I.
And I know we are the authors of our own fates and all of that.
And I will never know what her story was that got her there.
But to not have $29 in the bank to pay for some groceries broke me.
As the lady walked away, I asked the cashier if that had ever happened before.
She said not to her.
But I suspect it is something that will be happening to more and more of us in the very near future.
Groceries are becoming prohibitively expensive.
What used to cost us about $150 in weekly groceries is now edging up to $250.
And I don’t know where us mere mortals will find the money.
Something has got to give.
I have certainly noticed many more luxury cars finding their way into the parking lots at the local No Frills stores.
And I have noticed less cars parked at the high end grocery stores.
Perhaps the need to put gas in those cars, which has topped $1.80 per litre recently. is more of a necessity than the choices at the superbly laid out deli department.
Oh yes we can all blame the supply chain and the pandemic and even the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Or perhaps it is the need to build affordable housing on what was once farmers’ fields growing the food for us.
Whatever the reason, food insecurity is now a really big deal.
The local food bank says that one in eight households make regular trips to the food bank.
And nearly two thirds of people who don’t have enough food have jobs.
It’s a scary thought, that paying other bills, like rent, mortgage, heat, hydro, and other necessities, usurps food sometimes.
And I have just read about a local food bank for pets that has recently opened up.
What I do know for sure is that prices for groceries will not be going down anytime soon, if ever.
What’s next – perhaps government subsidies?
Food stamps? Food rationing? Just like my parents constantly tell me they had to endure during World War II when they were growing up in England? (And the reason I had to eat everything on my plate when I was a kid, and still do today).
While food banks and other solutions may help, they do not get to the root of the problem, which is the fact that groceries are becoming out of reach for many people.
Some food for thought the next time we are at the grocery store.