Okanagan moms getting shamed for taking kids shopping during COVID-19 pandemic - InfoNews

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Okanagan moms getting shamed for taking kids shopping during COVID-19 pandemic

Costco in Kelowna allows two people to shop on each card, which could include a child.
April 09, 2020 - 7:00 PM

After a New Brunswick woman posted on Facebook that she was shamed by Costco employees for taking her kids shopping with her during COVID-19, Mamas for Mamas in Kelowna rose to her defence as the organization is helping locals avoid similar incidents here.

Melinda Gallant recently posted a picture of herself on her Facebook page after taking her four and eight-year-old children with her to shop for essentials after not being able to get groceries delivered.

“If anybody has ever wondered what defeat looks like, here it is folks,” she posted. “This is the look of a single mom during a pandemic.”

A local member of Mamas for Mamas responded, saying that they’re getting swamped in Kelowna with similar stories.

“These mamas are falling through the cracks,” Shannon Christensen, the founder and CEO of Mamas for Mamas told iNFOnews.ca. “They are single. They can’t leave their houses without their children. What are they supposed to do? They’re damned if they do and they’re damned if they don’t.

Mamas for Mamas started in Kelowna to help moms who were struggling to get by. It has chapters across the county, including in Kamloops and Lake Country but not in the Maritimes.

“If they stay home and don’t have enough food, then they’re neglecting their children,” Christensen said. “If they are taking them out in public, then they’re being reckless. There’s no way to win as a single mom during the pandemic right now.”

The same goes for many single men who are now reaching out for help as they can’t leave their young children at home either, she said.

Over the past month, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a 108 per cent increase in the number of clients accessing Mamas for Mamas services. Over the same period, they’ve lost most of their funding as corporate donations dried up.

That’s meant creating new partnerships with other agencies and businesses that may not have money to donate but are always willing to help, and not just with shopping, Christensen said.

Part of the new reality in her world is picking up and delivering food, medicine and other necessities to those who can’t go out. That may mean joining with others to deliver Central Okanagan Food Bank baskets or finding a willing volunteer to move some furniture for a woman just getting out of a shelter and needing to self-isolate.

“We will do no contact drop-offs for any single mom (or dad) who can’t leave her house,” Christensen said.

“We will make sure she doesn’t have to go to Costco and get shamed. We’re working really hard on trying to find as many ways to support these additionally disenfranchised mamas because they were struggling to put enough food on the table before this all hit.”

The Kelowna Costco branch doesn't ban children but limits two people per card, one of which might be a child.

Melinda Gallant posted about being shamed for bringing her children shopping during COVID-19. The lives in the Maritimes but her experience resonated with Mamas for Mamas in Kelowna.
Melinda Gallant posted about being shamed for bringing her children shopping during COVID-19. The lives in the Maritimes but her experience resonated with Mamas for Mamas in Kelowna.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Melinda Gallant

As for Gallant, she wrote her post after three Costco employees told her she would not be allowed to bring her children to that particular Costco again.

But the post was not about shaming a few Costco employees (she praises others) or feeling sorry for herself.

“Do what you can to stop this pandemic,” Gallant wrote. “Because I will need more things in two weeks, and two weeks after that... That is just my story. We all have our struggles. I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm just saying, please have compassion instead of being so quick to judge, please do your part to flatten the curve and please check on the people around you. Most of us are not ok.”

See her full post here.

Learn more about Mamas for Mamas here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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