Ida Millar

Ida says when most people look at her they’re shocked she needs help with groceries.

When Ida first visited the Food Bank nine years ago it was daunting. She walked in unsure what to expect, keeping her head down as she waited in line.

“It’s like a reality check when you’re standing there. You say to yourself how did I end up here? Because there’s a stigma attached.”

The East Vancouver resident quickly realized she wasn’t alone.  There were women, children, men, seniors — all kinds of people who needed help just as she did.

Ida’s husband passed away in 2010 while she was still in school. She says she was in a dark place and had never heard of the Food Bank until a classmate told her to try it out.  Little did she know, that scary experience would change her life – having access to the Food Bank enabled Millar to stay afloat through tough times.

“It’s like either pay the rent or eat. You have a fixed income.  There’s your light, there’s your phone. It’s taking up everything and you don’t even have money for groceries.”

Ida is what you may describe as “put together.” She’s dressed sharply, with her long brown hair flowing down her back and a dab of red lipstick.  When most people think of a Food Bank user, it’s unlikely she’s the first image that comes to mind. That’s precisely why she’s sharing her story, hoping it will help to reduce the stigma associated with the Food Bank.

“People think that it’s all just homeless people or wayward people and it’s not like that at all.”

Nine years after her first trip to the Food Bank, Ida still uses it to get by each week, but now she’s giving back as a volunteer too. With the cost of living going up in Vancouver there’s been a 25% increase in the number of Food Bank users since last year, and Ida has seen a drastic change in the type of person coming in for help.