I always thought it was an American thing, but apparently the provincial government issues food vouchers to assist people in dire need. They are government issued vouchers which can be exchanged for any item of food at any retailer in the province.
A friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, is in the process of applying for welfare or “social assistance” as it’s sometimes called.
He won’t be able to see a worker until the end of the week, but in the meantime an intake worker was able to offer him emergency assistance in the form of a food and sundries voucher.
“It was actually very painless,” he says of the process. “She proactively gave them to me when I told her my rent was late. It was in this booklet that looked like a cheque book. She figured I was in a tough spot and gave me the food stamps and it was a temporary aid ‘til I get money on Friday”
My friend was issued four $5 vouchers totaling $20. He went to Safeway and purchased: a six-pack of eggs, a box of Kraft Dinner, three buns and milk. The total came to $4.65. He tried to make sure he used up the $5 because one cannot receive change from a food vouchers.
“I went to the customer service desk to spend them as I did not want the teller to be all confused and call a manager over the intercom,” he says, mindful of the stigma associated with people on welfare. “I came to customer care first and not a teller due to the sensitive nature of my vouchers She was like ‘oh yeah no problem we get these all the time’”.
Although it was a little embarrassing for him, he maintains that it is far better than the alternatives.
“Those vouchers allowed me to happily eliminate some much crappier options of getting food from my week such as food banks,” he says. “It is always on their time and you have to be up so fucking early and the worst part is that 90 per cent of them are located in skid fucking row.”