However, Meng feels satisfied with his life.
"There are still lots of people living much harder lives than me and I feel quite happy that I can do something for them," he said. "My greatest happiness is to do something meaningful for society."
Meng, dubbed the "Lei Feng shoemaker" for his kindness and work ethic, registered Lei Feng as the name of his shop in 1998, making it the first Lei Feng trademark in the country.
That year he also became the first rural migrant worker to become a Party member in Heilongjiang.
"I have been following the example of Lei Feng since I was a teenager," Meng said. "After joining the Party, I fortified my faith that to serve the people is my duty, especially those who are in extreme need."
During the past three decades he has won many honors, including being named one of the 10 Outstanding Volunteers of Heilongjiang, one of the 10 People Who Move Harbin and the May 1 Labor Medal.
He was elected as a delegate to the 18th and 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
"I am living and working at the grassroots, so I have to reflect the aspirations of the grassroots," Meng said. "As a national delegate, I pay much attention to the aged and college students."
In November 2017, a volunteer team with 19 detachments was named after Meng. It attracted more than 2,000 members in just a few months.
"In recent years, I've got a growing sense of urgency about launching more and better volunteer activities," said Meng, who heads the team. "We need the consensus of the whole society to pass on the Lei Feng spirit."
He has taught shoe-mending skills to more than 400 members of his team.
"I plan to open free training courses for laid-off workers, helping them gain skills to earn money," he said. "I will stick to my business till the day I can't move."