Final Thoughts

8 Jun

Thank-you everyone who made this year’s A Week in Their Kitchen a great success! Eating solely from the hamper would be a difficult task for anyone, and our bloggers did a fantastic job sticking to the Food Bank diet.

 Looking back at everyone’s experience, It is apparent that the A Week in Their Kitchen campaign has really affected the bloggers on a very personal level. Although this “experiment” was not meant to make the bloggers feel guilty about their every day lives, but it did bring about a lot of feelings that they wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Through these experiences they can better understand what a client may feel, and in turn, see first hand why it is so important to donate to the Food Bank.

Through this event, the Food Bank hoped to demonstrate what many of our clients face as a reality and that anyone could be in need of the Food Bank at any time. We hope that our bloggers and readers take this experience and share it with others in hopes of spreading hunger awareness throughout Calgary.

 The end result of this experience was that the Food Bank doesn’t just distribute food; they hand-out hope and strength to those in need and that every little bit donated does count.

 Thank-you again for a great A Week in Their Kitchen 2011!

Don’t forget to check out www.calgaryfoodbank.com for ways to donate and volunteer throughout the year!

Jody, Final Thoughts: Guilt

6 Jun

Guilt.

I take a look at my life, at the life my husband and I live, and I feel guilty. We have so much, and half the time don’t even realize what it is that we have. This last week has been eye opening for us. Living off the hamper was much harder than expected. Much harder. It involved a change in habits – from buying the groceries we needed to make our desired dinner, to not being able to go out when we just didn’t feel like cooking, to not engaging in social activities as most of them are centered around food or drink. Even with Luke being a really good cook, this week was hard – and the meals were not my favorite at all.
Some of the foods were great – yogurt, potatoes, corn, mushrooms, but others were a lot harder to use, or couldn’t be used as a meal. For example – the cookies, crackers, and tea biscuits. We have almost all of what they gave us, save for one pack of oreos left. Great snack foods, a nice treat – but how do you build a meal around crackers?

As a previous blogger mentioned – a good mantra to have is “If you won’t eat it, don’t donate it.” Not that the food bank doesn’t provide an incredible service that is much needed, but please, please, please try to think of what you are actually doing. Those donations of cookies and candy are great – everyone needs a treat – but when you are in survival mode – how are oreos the answer? I know for a fact that anything I donate in the future will be things that I would like to eat.

Guilt. For all the blessings that we have in this world, it took this blog project to really show us how lucky we are in terms of food. I always joke that we will never win the lottery because we are too lucky in love, but I do think I need to expand that statement – too lucky in life. We never want for food – or at least not the basics. After going through this project I feel guilty at all the times we complained about the price of organic produce or how much more organic free-run eggs were than regular eggs. All of that means nothing – there are soo many people that do not have the luxury of fresh produce, let alone organic or farm fresh. There are soo many people that struggle to make ends meet – that live off the food hampers not for something fun and interesting to do – but because they don’t have a choice.

I feel horrible. Guilty. And yet having gone through this week – I am very thankful they had ‘overflow’ food and we were able to go back and get some more fresh food – mushrooms, corn, onions, cherry tomatoes – those were a life saver this week – and really the only fresh food we had. Without them – which I understand does not happen all the time – this would have been a much harder experience. It was already much harder than I thought it would be.

I feel guilty over having everything that we have, and not being thankful for it. We take almost everything we have for granted – and because of that rarely think of those who don’t have the basics. This project has been so eye opening, making us more thankful for what we have. Our many, many thanks to the Calgary Food Bank, and to Husky, for seeing the massive need this city has for your services, and for helping raise awareness for such an amazing cause. I can only hope that one day the food bank will be able to close – for lack of need.

Many thanks.
-Jody &Luke.

Final thoughts

6 Jun

Last night I went to the grocery store to shop for this week’s groceries for the family.   Wow, what a mixed bag of emotions journeying through the store picking all my favorites: watermelon, broccoli, hummus, carrots, bananas, avocado….   But each item I put in the cart was done with a load more thankfulness than I’ve had in awhile.  I’ve never been so happy to see broccoli!

However, when the cashier spilled the grand total of $89, I was taken back (even though it hasn’t been THAT long since I’ve bought groceries).   I barely bought a thing other than some fruit, veggies etc and it was THAT MUCH??   It’s very expensive to eat healthy, let alone EAT!  And I shop pretty frugal!  At Superstore!

It again opened my eyes to those who work, yet still can’t afford food (and sometimes even rent!)  We almost break the bank trying to eat well!  It’s cruel to think a working person can’t afford food.  And honestly, I really get passionate about people not being able to afford healthy, wholesome foods.

This week has challenged more than I imagined it would.  It was hard to be limited to what was given.  It was difficult to give up going out for coffee with friends.  It was taxing adjusting to a different diet.  It was tough to be creative with meals.

But I wouldn’t trade this experience.  As hard as it has been, it has also brought an awareness I would have never had.  Even though I still feel I don’t know half of what people go through, I feel empathy has rooted itself more in my heart.

This experience has made me want to be more aware of those in need around me.  It has created a desire to do what I can to help.   I don’t want to go back to life-as-usual and forget those who’s kitchen I’ve just been in.   I see through a different set of eyes now.  Eyes that are more open and compassionate.

My family shares the hardship and enlightenment the experience has given.  My son is much more thankful for his food.  To my delight, hubby has been reminded of why he LIKES eating chicken and veggies!  He, too, feels more for those who go without.

There is so much we can do.  Those who have been blessed, can bless others.  What a waste to just live for myself.  I’m up for some new adventures of seeing what needs exist in our community, and  how our family can reach out beyond ourselves to help.

Thank you so much to the food bank for the difference you make.

Jeremy: The Last Entry

5 Jun

I can’t lie the wheels fell off today for a couple of reasons: the weather was actually nice and it was my niece’s first communion today. It would have taken a lot of will-power to make it through today without deviating from the hamper. Up until dinner today we were actually pretty good about using the hamper contents this weekend, although the creativity was getting sparse along with contents to make proper meals with.

We still have things left, like yogurt and rice pudding, but finding ways to make balanced meals was a challenge over the weekend. So, as I mentioned we definitely cheated tonight – a bit of understatement unfortunately.

Although, there is a bit of a story in all of this. It was actually kind of fitting that we cheated in relation to the celebration surrounding my niece’s communion. As I was listening to the priest talk to the kids today about the meaning of communion, he kept commenting on the meaning of gathering together to share a meal. In fact, he stressed the importance of taking care of each other in the act of sharing a meal. The first responsibility that we should remember is that we take care of those first who don’t have enough. Seemed kind of fitting to hear that message today. 

This whole exercise of using a hamper that was provided by the kindness of those in the community underscores the importance taking care of our community. I sometimes feel guilty that so much of my life surrounds food – meeting friends for a bite to eat and a beer, having family or friends over, or just going out for a coffee. But this isn’t such a bad thing, in fact I think it needs to be celebrated. The communal nature of sharing builds strong relationships and strong communities.

This is exactly what is so special about the Food Bank. Thanks for reading.

Brandy, Day 6

5 Jun

I used all the cabbage! I used all the cabbage!

It was a happy day this morning when I chopped up the last of the cabbage and added it to the hash browns for breakfast. My kids are sick of cabbage now, but I will admit – fried in butter it tastes pretty good. Although what *doesn’t* taste pretty good fried in butter? Which leads me to the fact that I GAINED TWO POUNDS THIS WEEK!!!!
I’m not sure if it’s actual weight (although it probably is because I’ve been eating more calorie-rich food than I normally do) or water weight by the added sodium in my diet. It was absolutely not an expected outcome of eating off an emergency food hamper for the week.

This weekend was tough. WAY tougher than the weekdays. So many social events have food or drink associated with them. We went golfing today and it was kind of sad to smile and shake my head no to the lovely drink cart lady. And by not eating and drinking at our various activities made me realize that if we had financial troubles – we wouldn’t even be participating in some of those activities! No poker night, no fundraisers at pubs and no golf. Not having adequate food is only one part of a very large picture.

I was surprised to learn when I went to the food bank that the largest number of clients are what is considered the “working poor”. People with one or two or even three jobs just trying to make ends meet. People who work HARD and yet still need help. I know a lot of times we feel like we work hard and deserve the things we have. But there are a LOT of people that work hard in this city and it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve nice or fun things. It means that WE are incredibly fortunate to be in the situation we are in. It doesn’t mean that we need to feel guilty about it either, but empathy and compassion are definitely things that should be a part of who we are. Not to mention a realization that EVERYONE needs help at some point, whether it be financial, emotional, etc.

This morning was interesting for me, as I made breakfast AND dinner at the same time. I made hashbrowns and cabbage (of course!) and then scrambled eggs and cheese. Dinner was crockpot chili – I threw some beans, canned tomatoes and added chili powder (the only extra spice we used this whole week), and macaroni noodles, set the crockpot to low and let it simmer all day.

I’ll be honest. No one liked it. LOL. I made it too spicy, it was too dry and the macaroni was too mushy. To quote Dave:

“I like it. I just don’t want to eat very much of it.”

Ashley, Day 6+7, Goodbye food hamper

5 Jun

These past two days have been…interesting. I thought that on the weekend I would be more willing to take the time to cook my food but that was not the case. I ended up eating left over potatoes and pasta all weekend. It is funny that even though I was given the time, by sheer laziness I did not feel the need to cook a proper meal. Also, I knew that I would only be on this for another two days so cooking a full blown meal was not a necessity. I think that next year this “experiment” should be expanded to the duration of a week and a half. Yes, it is a long time, but I do not think a week was enough time for it to sink in for me.

Yesterday I ate eggs in the morning and then some pasta with tomato sauce at night. Today I ate eggs again and had mac and cheese and then some cooked potatoes for supper.

I thought that I would approach this challenge differently. I was very eager to get in the kitchen and cook these amazing meals and show people that this is doable. Then, life got in the way and I didn’t accomplish anything I set out to do. I never realized how little time I allocated to the preparation of my food. I have had the luxury of always having the choice to buy meals if need be so I never thought I needed to take time to cook. This week was a real shock for me. I even opted to go without food rather than wake up early or stay up late preparing food. A lot of people do not have that luxury of knowing that eating from the food hamper is only for a week.

I also began longing for food as I would long for a Marc Jacobs bag. I was looking up all kinds of recipes and restaurants I could go to and all the things I wish I could eat. It was a little odd to get that surge of wanting as I flipped through different recipe websites. I would have never thought I would want a necessity such as food as I would want a purse. That just shows me how materialistic I have become as I’ve grown up. This has defiantly made me appreciate my situation much more and made me more conscious of giving back to organizations such as the food bank.

Now that the week is over, I feel as though it has flown by so quick. For me, this experience is finished and I will go about my daily life. But for others, this is a daily reality. I do not have much food left, although I was giving an abundance in the beginning, the ingredients for different meals and fresh produce are almost gone. People will try to make this hamper stretch to a week and a half to two weeks, and my option of not eating is not one.

This experience has taught be a lot about struggles of Calgarians and about myself. I never realized how I have taken food for granted. I felt I was entitled to it, entitled to walk into a super market and buy whatever I want and go out with my friends. Now, after doing this, I will appreciate what I have a whole lot more.

Lessons from the Hamper…

5 Jun

It is over, finally. This project was much more challenging than I ever expected. Food is much more a part of my mothering than I ever imagined. From our routines, to the way we comfort ourselves, what we eat is an enormous component to our lives.

Having a crisis that puts you in the situation of needing food is everyone’s worst nightmare, as a mother, I think it must be that much more difficult. I look forward to discussing tomorrow at Southcentre Mall at 6pm the week we have just participated in, the challenges we as a group have had and I want to celebrate the fact that we have a service like The Calgary Inter Faith Food Bank in just such emergencies.

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