Food is at the heart of family and community

After almost giving up on the first day, I finished the Welfare Food Challenge yesterday. For people on welfare, the challenge continues. And it’s not just about hunger. Through my week on welfare, I learned firsthand that $26 is simply not enough to eat a healthy diet but I also came to realize how much food matters beyond the issue of hunger. Food is at the heart of family and community.

This struck me over the weekend. On Saturday mornings, the kids and I usually make pancakes together and have a big family breakfast. This week we weren’t able to share in that tradition. Then, on Sunday nights, we usually go to my parent’s house for a family dinner with all the children and grandchildren. This week, we went as usual but I found that not being able to share the food left me feeling like I wasn’t quite able to share the warmth of conversation and family closeness. There’s something about passing food around the table, joking and laughing, eating and taking joy in food that brings people closer together.

I recently spoke to someone on welfare who told me that he couldn’t invite his son to his home because he didn’t have any food to offer him. We’re not just denying people food, we’re denying people the opportunity to share food with others, and build the relationships of family and community that go hand-in-hand with that. It’s time to raise the welfare rates!

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