Edward sits patiently in the front reception room, nursing a coffee while a food bank volunteer gathers his food. It begins to rain outside and he asks another volunteer for a spare plastic bag to protect his shoeless foot. He carefully eases his swollen foot and leg into the bag.
Edward is like thousands of Canadians battling an unexpected illness alone without family to turn to for help.
“Everyone has a lymph system in their body. If you have a blockage in it, your leg will start swelling,” he explains. “I’ve been without shoes for 2 years. I tried to get orthopedic shoes through the government but they don’t cover it anymore. And they cost $2,000 because they’re custom-made. So, that’s where I am with that.”
Edward is wearing size 5XL pants to fit a leg swollen to 36 inches in diameter. He estimates his leg weighs an extra 100 pounds. He’s been unemployed for some time now; his lack of mobility and frequent hospital stays making it difficult to land and keep a job.
This isn’t the only hardship he’s faced. In 2003, he lost his only child, a son, just two days before his sixteenth birthday. Since that tragedy, he and his wife divorced. “That was her idea, not mine,” he adds quietly.
Edward is like thousands of Canadians battling an unexpected illness alone without family to turn to for help. When asked what he would do without the food bank for support, he admits that he honestly doesn’t know how he would make ends meet.
His taxi arrives and several volunteers carry his food out to the car. It’s raining harder and Edward secures the plastic bag around his foot in preparation for the journey home. He thanks the volunteers, smiling broadly at each one.
“Since I got older, I’ve tried to be friendlier with people. I smile at everyone who goes by me,” he explains. “If they don’t smile back, well, that’s their problem.”