According to a survey by Statistics Canada, food insecurity in the wake of the coronavirus has significantly increased in just a few short months from 10 per cent to 14.8 per cent.
With the sudden pandemic, and many losing their jobs, it has been difficult for families to keep food on the table.
Micheal Bouchard, born and raised in Lac La Biche – now living in Vancouver, wanted to address the hunger problem in his area and try to give back to the homeless population. To do so, he decided to go six days without food, all while raising money to buy food for the people who need it most. Over the course of the six days, he raised $1,600.
“With COVID-19, the amount of people allowed to stay at homeless shelters has been reduced by almost four times. There’s more people on the street now, so it’s a bigger problem now than it was before,” said Bouchard.
“I was so surprised and grateful when I realized I had raised $1,600. It makes me really want to put the money to good use.”
Every day Bouchard would head to a grocery store, purchase any on-sale food items, and distribute the food to anyone he could find that was in need.
“So during the six days, I would wake up every morning, and I would drive around and find people to give to,” said Bouchard.
“The rest of the day I felt great, because I felt like I did something impactful.”
Throughout the six days, Bouchard conversed with the homeless people he met, listened to their stories, and learned about their struggles. He discovered that food was not a main priority for them.
“I’ve talked to quite a few people and there’s a lot of mental illness and drug addiction problems. In Vancouver, there are a lot of food banks and programs where you can get two to three meals a day, so getting food isn’t difficult,” said Bouchard.
“When they wake up, they’re not thinking about where they are going to get food, they are thinking about where they can get money for drugs. I was definitely the most hungry person out there, especially when I was on day six.”
Although he is back to eating food again, his journey to help others has only begun. Bouchard is going to use some of the money to go towards buying fanny packs and filling them with essentials like toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, women’s hygiene products, and more.
“I’ll be buying 200 to 300 fanny packs because one of the people I talked to told me that he is constantly getting robbed, so a fanny pack is something I can give that will be useful for them,” said Bouchard.
The experience has encouraged Bouchard to continue to give back, and he has now made it a life goal to open a rehabilitation center for those struggling with addictions.
“Giving selflessly this past week has changed me, and has changed what I want to do for my future. Opening up a rehabilitation center is a longer-term goal that I now have. It’s a dream that I hope one day I can pull off,” said Bouchard.
He is also currently the CEO of Run for Stuff, which helps people win rewards when they are active in their communities and when they donate to charity.
To donate money to help Bouchard purchase the fanny packs, and the products that will be going inside them, etransfer to [email protected]