Dec 11, 2023

From client to advocate: Sue-Ellen Patcheson

For Sue-Ellen, accessing a food bank for the first time brought feelings of shame, failure, and a loss of dignity. But those feelings quickly changed to anger as she witnessed the long lines of seniors with walkers, mothers with small children in tow and people with mobility issues barely able to withstand the wait time all for their allotted three days of food.

She knew something had to be done, but what could she, a single mother of four dependent adult children with special needs, do to help?  That’s when Sue-Ellen recognized that her story could contribute to the larger symphony of voices calling for change.

“I contacted the media and invited them to join me on a trip to what had become a weekly visit to Daily Bread,” says Sue-Ellen. And that, they did.

Since then, Sue-Ellen has gone on to share her experience with local and national news outlets countless times in the hopes of breaking down the stigma around accessing food banks and encouraging change among lawmakers at all levels of government to ensure no one goes hungry, as she has.

At a recent press conference to release the results of Daily Bread’s Who’s Hungry 2023 report, Sue-Ellen joined Daily Bread leadership in sounding the alarm bell that 1 in 10 Torontonians are now relying on food banks, up from 1 in 20 last year.  

The audience was captivated as she shared her firsthand account of what led her to rely on food banks; her eloquence, passion and vulnerability painted a stark picture for viewers of what those experiencing hunger face every day.

Her direct call for policy change was heard loud and clear. “Food Insecurity has hit crisis levels and all three levels of government share responsibility in finding sustainable and equitable solutions.  We can’t wait any longer and as helpful as they are, as grateful as we, the clients, are to their existence and the public’s generosity; foodbanks are not the long-term solution we need.”

Recognizing that advocacy is not the only way to help, Sue-Ellen can also regularly be found in Daily Bread’s Welcome Centre, answering calls, and assisting clients and visitors.

If you would like to share your story of accessing a food program in Toronto, please contact Maria Solis at [email protected]

Click here if you would like to support Daily Bread’s essential food programs.  

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