The Foods for Friends program offers some agency and dignity to card recipients, who get to choose what they want to buy and shop like everyone else. Shirley Merry, a resident of Woodstock and recipient of Foods for Friends, appears in a CBC video and an article from the Woodstock Sentinel Review commenting on the change the program has made in her life: “With food cards, we can go into grocery stores and get whatever we want and be able to shop with dignity…we deserve to shop where everybody else does.”

This is incredibly valuable, especially for people who have faced the stigma of poverty for a long time. But Food for Friends is designed as an emergency food service only: the denominations are small, first-time users and families get priority, and repeat use is discouraged. Part of what is needed is a committed, long-term vision of equal food access and poverty reduction in Canada (and worldwide).