Jenna Drabble, Day 7,
It is the last day of the challenge and a few things have been on my mind today. First of all, I am relieved for it to be over and glad that tomorrow I will be able to eat more interesting and varied foods (going to take some time away from beans and rice probably). I am looking forward to enjoying my meals, instead of feeling bored or stressed out by the thought of cooking. I have a few meetings and other commitments this week so I’ll be out of the house a lot and thankfully will not have to think so carefully about what I am going to eat during the day or how I will deal with my hunger if I am away from home longer than planned. If I need to, I’ll be able to go to a restaurant for a bite to eat. I’ll be able to resume socializing with the friends who I meet for coffee or lunch on a regular basis. Mostly though, I am appreciating the fact that I can end this challenge, as this is not an option for many people.
The conversations that have started and the stories that people have shared with me as a result of my taking this challenge are what have made this experience worthwhile. This has been an opportunity for reflecting and thinking critically about the ideas and assumptions that shape our policies and social environments. Many people questioned the $26 figure at the beginning of this challenge, stating that people on social assistance can access food banks, so they are actually able to get more food than what $26 will buy. This may be somewhat true (though not everyone does have access to a food bank) but I think we need to start asking different questions altogether. Let’s start asking why we have normalized the fact that so many people rely on food banks, and why so many of these people are women, children and Indigenous peoples. Let’s talk about how our government has made a commitment to fulfill the Human Right to Food but has done an embarrassing job of keeping this promise. Let’s ask why there is hunger in a country with so much wealth. Let’s ask why welfare rates haven’t risen in almost 7 years and why, even 7 years ago, these rates did not reflect the cost of living in B.C. (I’m going to go out on a limb here and also include the rest of Canada). Let’s ask why we don’t have a national food policy. I am looking forward to these conversations.
We all benefit from a healthier community. Ensuring that everyone has access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in a dignified way is a very obvious and effective way to support public health. We need to take better care of each other. Illness, social isolation and the stigmatization of poverty are not good for any of us, whether we experience these things first hand or not. These are not new revelations, and I am grateful to know so many people who already recognize this and are working tirelessly to strengthen and care for their communities. Participating in this challenge has only fuelled my motivation and deepened my commitment to this work.