'I couldn't even pick up my son': Illness forces family to use food bank

CBC NEWS MANITOBA |  Bridget Forbes

Richard Blyth, wife Tracy Zimmerman and son Dylan (10) are grateful to Winnipeg Harvest, and to the kidney donor whose organ donation has given Blyth a new lease on life. (Bridget Forbes)
Richard Blyth thrived working long shifts running a busy kitchen to support his young family until one day in December 2008, he suddenly collapsed at work.

"I was bending down to empty the fryer, and I got a pain behind my knees so severe I almost blacked out," he said.

The 35-year-old's kidneys were failing and it set his family on a path that eventually led them to the door of Winnipeg Harvest.

Food Banks Canada says 14 per cent of Manitoba's food bank clients report receiving disability-related income support; a Winnipeg Harvest survey found many who turn to the service are off work because of a disability or a chronic illness.

For Blyth and his wife, Tracy Zimmerman, and their son, Dylan, then 3, his illness meant the River Heights family faced severe financial hardship as their sole wage earner became unable to work.

"I was so sick I couldn't even pick up my son," said Blyth, who went from 225 pounds to 150 pounds in about a year. Continue reading
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