I’m trying to decide how to wrap up my day on this Friday, Dec. 7, but I’m pretty sure a good meal and a glass of Chardonnay will figure prominently. Since last Saturday, at the request of CBC radio, I’ve been on what I call the Food Bank Diet.
Today is their Food Bank Day, in which CBC studios all over the province raise funds and food for food banks. I was asked if I would be interested in living off a Food Bank hamper for a week, to which I agreed, but I figure up to but not including dinner tonight is close enough.
I began by getting a list of items from the Food Bank that are normally included in the monthly hamper provided to single clients. Some of it was already in the cupboard, so I made a stop at a grocery store and added the rest.
This is what’s included in the hamper: 1 tomato sauce/ pasta sauce, 1 dry soup, 1 small bag of rice, 1 can of beans, 1 can of meat/tuna/salmon, 3 cans of soup, 1 can of vegetables, 1 can of fruit, 1 small bag of dried pasta, 1 bag of cereal, 1 rice dish/Sidekicks, 1 KD.
That won’t get anyone through a month; I found that, by stretching things (for example, making two meals instead of one from a can of beans or soup), the hamper could likely last about 10 days. But then, it’s not expected to last a whole month; food bank clients provide the rest of their own food needs, helped out by twice-weekly offerings of perishable goods — bread, produce, pastries, etc. — from the Food Bank.
I allowed myself a loaf of bread and some greens in keeping with the perishable allotment and that definitely helped. But I wasn’t able to keep my meals totally in synch with the food available, and had to mix it up a bit, sometimes eating something for lunch or breakfast that would normally be reserved for dinner, and vice versa.
While the hampers are designed with the help of nutritionists, the non-perishables are pretty low in calories. My daily intake has easily been under 500 calories a day compared to the 2,000 a man of my age, weight, height and level of activity needs.
The result has been that I’ve dropped a few pounds. I was actually down five pounds until a couple of days ago, when one of them came back. Four or five pounds might sound pretty good to weight watchers, but I’ve been thin for the past while already so I can imagine the difficulty some hungry people have staying healthy.
What did I learn? A small insight into the challenges of not having enough food in the cupboard, and a re-affirmation of my admiration for those who make our amazing Food Bank possible, and for those who rely on it.
Thanks to CBC for inviting me to do this, and to Bernadette and Cori at the Food Bank for helping me set it up. I will toast you this evening when I uncork a fresh bottle of Chardonnay and enjoy a nice dinner.