Chris Buchner, Day 1
When contemplating what food I would buy for the Welfare Food Challenge, I wasn’t that worried. I’ve been really poor at various times in my life and I thought that one survival skill I’d developed through these periods, was how to survive on very little money.
On Tuesday evening, I went shopping with my 26$. There are lots of inexpensive stores in my neighbourhood, and so I headed to the Dollar Store and the green grocers that line south Fraser Street. And I made some rookie mistakes. The first mistake I made was that I spent all my money, not saving any for later in the week. The second was that I was focusing so much on affordable carbohydrates and fresh fruit and vegetables, that I didn’t have enough money to buy much protein. When I got home, I put all the food I bought for the week on the counter and realized that while I was able to bring home a good amount of food, the meals will not be complete, nor appetizing. Another realization that I had was that the packaged foods I bought at the dollar store and the cheap cold cuts are not things that I feel good about eating. They are not particularly healthy and it’s unclear where they were made and what exactly they contain. Another issue that I hadn’t anticipated before beginning the challenge, was the isolation that this would have on me. I can’t enjoy the nice meals that my family are having, and I have had to cancel a few social plans that were to revolve around food. So, I’m still at the beginning of this challenge and some of the realities that people living on welfare face daily basis are already becoming more clear to me – impossible choices between healthy food vs. affordable food, and increased social isolation. This is going to be tougher than I had anticipated.