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Friday, 20 July 2012

Food Bank Diet, Part 3: The Menus

The food hamper provided at my husband’s workplace is meant to feed a family for 3-5 days.  We managed to stretch it almost 5 days:


1 Ready to serve oatmeal pack per person with hot water; Greek yogurt
Buns with thin slice of ham, cheese and lettuce; buns with peanut butter
Packaged pasta salad served on a leaf of lettuce; cold sliced ham; 2 raw zucchinis sliced with dip
½ angel food cake;
home made peanut butter cookies (1 cup peanut butter, ½ cup sugar, 1 egg); Greek yogurt

Toast with peanut butter or margarine or sliced cheese; juice box
2 cans chicken noodle soup with Ritz crackers
Noodle casserole containing 7 cut up hotdogs, ½ package of noodles, 1 can tomato paste, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 stirfried zucchini & onion; packed coleslaw
Greek yogurt;
Chocolate chip cookies

Cranberry muffins (margarine, Greek yogurt, sugar, flour, 3 eggs, 2-1/2 cups cranberries) and glass of milk
Leftover noodle casserole; toast with cheese (choice of one or both)
Package potato salad; plain hot dog on bread (2 scrambled eggs for picky eater); mixed frozen vegetables; 2 cucumbers*
½ angel food cake with strawberry Greek yogurt; cookies

1 Ready to serve oatmeal pack per person with hot water; toast and margarine; raspberries*
Cooked rice with corn; hotdog on bread
Mashed potatoes (with plain Greek yogurt): stir in finely chopped and fried chicken bacon & onion; canned beans; Lettuce/cheese/carrot* salad with dip as dressing
Cranberry pudding cake; crackers with cheese or peanut butter

Homemade hash brown potatoes with onions and bacon
Rest of ham, chopped and mixed with noodles and mixed vegetables; sauteed onion and zucchini.

Chocolate chip cookies; juice box; cranberry smoothie (with yogurt and sugar)

Leftover food to carry forward: 900 gram pack pasta; ¼ jar peanut butter; 2 cans tomato paste; 600grams frozen corn; 5 lbs potatoes; 1/2 cup frozen cranberries; 7 buns; ½ loaf of bread; 6 hot dogs; 1 tub yogurt (gave away three); 2 onions; 1 clove garlic; 300g. cheese

*Additional food: raspberries from our backyard patch; carrots and cucumbers from a neighbour’s garden.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Food Bank Diet, Part 2: Challenges/Learning

   Some of the challenges of restricting our eating to the equivalent of a food hamper (for a photo and list of its contents, go back one post) included the following:
  • One child who is rather picky in what she eats.
  • We are used to eating only whole grains, but some of the bread and all of the pasta in the hamper are made of enriched wheat.
  • The need to find alternative uses for certain items.  For example, besides cranberry sauce, what else can you do with cranberries?  Can you use Greek yogurt as a leavening agent in muffins (instead of baking powder/baking soda)?
  • Doing without regular combinations: peanut butter but no jam; lettuce but no salad dressing; and no glass of milk with supper.

   Some of the things we are learning from this exercise are that
  • While all the food in a hamper is donated and comes to both the food bank and the client for “free”, the retail value of the equivalent items was well over $150.
  • I am able to have a good attitude about how to use the food because it was my choice to do this.  Yet for someone who has come to the level of need where the food bank has become a short-term necessity, there would be all kinds of extra stresses on that person and family.  Hence, having an attitude of resourcefulness would be much more difficult.  Such a person might understandably complain about what’s missing from the hamper or wonder why there are so many grain products and barely any fruit. 
  • If I were in financial need, I would have 20 different places I could turn before I would need to go to a food bank.  I have a network of family, friends and a church that would help me.  So many people in poverty do not have these networks.  They may be estranged from family, have difficulty for whatever the reason to form friendships and may not have experienced the loving fellowship of a church.
  • 10 tubs of Greek yogurt is a huge amount for a family of 5 to eat, so I gave some away.  For a food bank recipient to have enough of something to share with another (a neighbour, friend or relative who is also in need) is not necessarily a bad thing; it can boost self-esteem.

Next post: The Menus

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Food Bank Diet, Part 1

   My husband works full-time at a food bank.  As a part of his job he receives and assesses donations of fresh and non-perishable food, sets quotas so that the food is distributed as fairly as possible and coordinates volunteers in the warehouse.  Eighty to 150 families per day come to his workplace to ask for “emergency food,” which is called a hamper held in one or more boxes.  As an awareness exercise for our family of five, I will be purchasing my groceries next week according to the items that were given to a family of the same size on Friday, July 13th.  (We will also use three other items we have in stock: margarine, flour and brown sugar)
   My next posts will tell you how we managed on the food bank diet.
  Here is the shopping list I will be using:
2.5 kilograms (5 pounds) of meat, including 2 packages of hotdogs and a small ham
1 box (10 packages) of Quaker ready- to-serve oatmeal
500 gram (1 pound) jar of peanut butter
1 clove garlic; 5 onions
3 cans of soup
2 kg frozen vegetables
2 small cans of vegetables
2 L of juice (combination of canned apple juice and juice boxes)
1 large bag frozen cranberries
3 loaves bread; 2 packages of buns
10-500 gram tubs of Greek yogurt, 5 plain with honey & 5 strawberry
3 small tins of tomato paste
2- 900 gram packages of enriched pasta
3-500 gram salads: coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad
1 L milk
6 eggs
2-400 gram blocks of cheese
1 small tub of dip
2 boxes Ritz crackers
1 Angel food cake & 1 package chocolate chip cookies
10 pounds potatoes
4 zucchinis
small bag of rice
one head of lettuce

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Wedding Words

   While the most memorable wedding words are “I do,” there are other words spoken at a marriage service that equally important.  In my circles they are known as the “wedding text,” a verse or two from the Bible that the pastor uses to craft a short talk for the benefit of the bride and groom as well as the guests in attendance.
   The wedding text of my paternal grandparents was prominently displayed in their home, and my grandmother always said it was her favourite.  Psalm 119:105 states
 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  These were not just pious words for one day in May of 1935.  My grandparents looked to God’s word daily for direction, reading a portion of Scripture to accompany their meals.
   The text my parents chose for their wedding was often quoted in my growing up years.  But even if it hadn’t been, I would have seen it modeled consistently.  Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge him [the Lord] and he shall direct your paths.”  Their path of life has not always been easy, but through it all they sensed his guidance because they were aware of his importance in everything.
   My husband and I chose as our wedding verse 1 John 1:7: “If we walk in the light as he is in the light we have peace with God and fellowship with one another.”  Walking with God brings peace and fellowship, and this is what we want more than anything else in the world.  A wedding text can become a “vision statement” for a husband and wife, something to always aim for and come back to when priorities have become distorted.
   If you never had a church wedding or the words the preacher spoke have faded from memory, it is not too late for you to seek out a passage that expresses how you want to live out your marriage from this point on.  Don’t miss out on the richness of God’s Word to infuse your life with new purpose and direction.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Reflections on the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

   At my parents’ cottage a book caught my son’s eye and mine as well.  Into the Wild was published in 1996 and is the true story of an American young adult who turned his back on a life of privilege.  After attaining his college degree he changed his name from Chris McCandless to Alexander Supertramp and broke off all contact with his parents and siblings.  He became a nomad, subsisting on rice and a few other things he could fit in his backpack.  His ultimate dream was to live off the land in Alaska from April to July 1992, but conceded in two postcards to friends that his experiment ran the risk of ending in death.  In August 1992 his body was found in a rusting city bus. (A construction company attempting to build a permanent road in the area had hauled this bus into the Alaskan wilderness thirty years earlier to serve as living quarters for its crew.)
   While this was obviously a sad story, it was much more than that for me.
   As I read this thoroughly researched account it caused me to reflect about McCandless’ sojourn and his need for a level of risk in order to find fulfillment.  I looked back into my own life to see if there was anything like this in my own young adult years.  It came to me like a bit of a jolt to realize that after graduating from a Christian college, I also changed my name (using my middle name) for a year.   I attended teacher’s college at a university in Northern Ontario where I somewhat deliberately did not know anyone.  It was a test for myself to see who I was and how I would cultivate my faith in God without any of my traditional supports.  Would I attend church?  Where would I go?  What kind of friends would I choose?
   Unlike McCandless I maintained contact with my family and continue to treasure them.  Yet I needed that year to get out of the familiar circles and to discover who I was as an independent adult.  By God’s grace I passed the test.  As my children will be coming to that point soon enough, these reflections are good preparation for letting them go.