Home > Uncategorized > Put food in the budget: the challenge

Put food in the budget: the challenge

I’ve accepted the challenge of living for three days to one week on a typical food bank hamper. It’s part of a larger campaign to see a $100 per month increase in social assistance.

This is where I need to make something clear. I’m not doing this because I necessarily support the cause. I’m doing it, as a journalist, so I can share the experience with others and let them know what it’s like. Basically, I have no real political motivation here. It’s just curiosity and a desire to inform others.

The challenge is taking place in 15 communities around Ontario. I know there’s a chef or two in Ottawa participating. It’ll be interesting to hear what they cooked up.

Here’s the gist of the challenge:

1. Only eat meals prepared from the contents of the food bank hamper and the pantry list.

2. Participants can use up to 5 ingredients from the pantry list: vegetable oil, flour, salt, sugar, coffee, tea, margarine, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic and spices. We need to keep track of the quantity used.

We were given a list of a sample food hamper (we purchase the food ourselves). Since I’m doing this solo, I am using the list for a family of one.

Aside from five of those pantry items, here’s what I have to work with:

6 eggs

1 milk OR 1 bag powdered

6 wieners OR 1 package of meat

1 fresh piece of fruit OR 1 juice OR 1 canned fruit

1 fresh vegetable

1 canned vegetable

2 potatoes

1 can of tuna

1 can of stew

1 can of beans

1 container of peanut butter

1 loaf sliced bread AND one other (package of 6 bagels)

1 can of soup

2 choices between boxes of mac & cheese and cans of pasta AND 1 bag of pasta with a can of pasta sauce

1 bag of rice

1 dessert (if the food bank has it – I’ve opted to go without)

1 box of cold cereal OR 1 bag of oatmeal OR 3 pouches per person

3 food items (variety) – I’m still trying to get clarification on this one

It seems like a lot of food, although not what I’d normally choose to eat. I’m only part way through day one of the challenge, so it’s still a bit early to say, but I think I’m going to be eating way more sodium than I’d prefer. In some ways, this harkens back to my university days. Let’s see what the next few days bring…

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