It’s somewhere between fear and shame.

“What if someone sees me? What will people think?”

These questions swirl in my head as I climb the steps of the Belmont Street building. Opening the door, I give a sigh of relief to know I’m not alone.

At 10 a.m. there are 20 people already waiting in the line for emergency food.

I take my place at the back of the queue and wait to be called.

Today, my assignment is to apply for an emergency food hamper for a family of four – two adults and two children — as part of The Guardian’s Poverty Project.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health program manager Jillian Gumbley reported new statistics to the counties’ health board Wednesday in Belleville. Speaking during the board’s monthly meeting, she said prices increased by three per cent between 2015 and 2016.

“Poverty is the root cause of food insecurity,” she said.

“We need to work locally and advocate provincially to identify solutions to that, such as the advancements that have taken place in terms of basic income and increases to social assistance rates,” said Gumbley.

The overarching goal of The Conference Board of Canada’s How Canada Performs is to measure quality of life for Canada, its provinces and territories (whenever comparable data are available), and its peer countries. Quality of life is not only affected by standard of living, i.e., income per capita, but is also a reflection of social outcomes. Inequity and poverty in a country or region have a huge impact on the health of the population, educational outcomes, and social cohesion. For example, low levels of civic participation and engagement, high crime rates, and overall social unrest are all associated with higher levels of poverty and inequity.

Nova Scotia managed just a C grade in a report on quality of life released Wednesday by the Conference Board of Canada.

The report measured social performance in Canada, its provinces and 15 peer countries based on 10 indicators, and calculated an overall “society grade” for each based on the aggregate performance on these indicators.

Canada got a B rating, good for 13th overall, down from seventh place in the previous report. New Brunswick was the top province, also with a B, for 10th spot overall.

Norway, Denmark and Sweden got the only A ratings, while the U.S. and Japan finished last, each with a D.

The Gathering Place is somewhere at-risk and low-income individuals can come to take a shower, do laundry or get deloused. There are cheap meals, a library and activities.

And from November 1 to March 31 it offers one of the city’s extreme-weather shelters. Well, March 31 has passed, but the winter weather hadn’t when Swanson met with Postmedia News three days earlier.

“They close the end of March even though those people still need (shelter),” the 74-year-old homeless activist said. “And the homeless count takes place a couple weeks before, so it seems like more people are sheltered than are (counted).”

She asked people at the Gathering Place where they would now go at night.

“They’d say, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know,’ over and over. They all have health issues, it’s just horrible.”

First Nations people were Canada’s first business owners and operators and having First Nation leaders continue forging productive business relationships with non-native Canadians must continue and grow, said Louie, who was feted Wednesday by local community and business leaders and members of the OIB for being appointed to the Order of Canada, this country’s highest civilian award.

Half of Canada’s current First Nations have unemployment in or around 80 per cent, which is unacceptable as Canada prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2017, said Louie.

When you think of poverty, what type of person comes to mind?

You may think of someone who is homeless, a person who does not have a job, someone not contributing to society — perhaps someone who is lazy. Would you think of a middle-aged woman on disability due to unfortunate circumstances or a student at Thompson Rivers University?

For someone on disability or some students, this is a reality. Having to choose between food, rent, tuition or other basic needs is more common than most would think. Through our research, it surprised us that seniors, students, people on disability or social assistance and single-parent families with children fall under $20,000 annual income per year.

What are our political parties doing to reduce poverty? Beyond a poverty-reduction plan, what action are they taking? We are open to hearing what our MLA candidates have to say on the matter of poverty reduction and what are city councillors have to say about actions taken in Kamloops to reduce poverty.