Participant bio – Meena Dawar

Name: Meena Dawar

Why taking the challenge: I am participating in the challenge to assess if it is at all possible for people to have a healthy diet on the limited funds available to them. As a Medical Health Officer for VCH, I know that poverty is a huge barrier to achieving good health outcomes. One of the important issues is access to good quality food on $26.00 per week. While I think I understand the issue and the barriers, I want to live the experience for a better appreciation of the day to day challenges.

I started on Wednesday as I could not get organized for a Tuesday start. Here’s what I have learned already:

  • $26 did not stretch as far I thought (had to leave out my very expensive $5 tofu dogs at the check out counter).
  • For the first time in a very long time, I stopped at the coupon wall to see if I could make my money stretch.
  • I counted the pieces of bread (19 pieces) among other items and rationed my food for the week. (Never in my life have I had to ration my food.)
  • My diet is going to get very dull for this week: one piece of toast with peanut butter for breakfast and lunch along with boiled eggs (12 eggs to stretch over 7 days); my one fruit will be cantaloupe; pasta with tomato sauce for dinner EVERY night with frozen veggies; one lettuce and tomato for the sole fresh veggie component.
  • Dairy component is pretty thin: one litre of milk for the whole week and absolutely no cheese or yogurt.
  • I am cheating on the tea with sugar: absolutely need it to survive.

Yes, it’s hard to eat a healthy varied diet on $26 per week. I am not sure the food will last for the whole 7 days… Today is day 3 and I am missing my protein and dairy.

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