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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

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