Irene Lanzinger, Day 5

It is Day 5 of the welfare food challenge. I meant to communicate at the half way point through Twitter, Facebook and a blog post. I managed the first two and here is the blog post a few days late. I am definitely counting the days until it is over – two more sleeps.

I have never been so aware of the cost of food. I have lived with my partner, Lee, for more than thirty years. When we first got together our division of labour was that he did the grocery shopping and I did the laundry. That original agreement has survived to this day. So I don’t even buy food very often. I just put what I want on the list on the fridge and Lee buys it.

Now I know that at the No Frills Supermarket cabbage is $0.29 a pound, a 500 g package of pasta is $1.38, beans are $0.68 a can. The food challenge required a fair amount of planning and calculation. Interesting for me but not an easy task for those who live in poverty.

When I was shopping I had to face the reality that vegetables are cheap and fruit is expensive. Carbohydrates are cheap and protein is expensive. These are the facts that make it impossible to live on a healthy diet for $21 per week.

I also learned some things about myself. I thought the most difficult thing to go without would be coffee. It is very expensive and a luxury so I couldn’t afford it. But I have managed quite well without coffee. I don’t miss wine at all but that’s not to say I won’t have a glass on Thursday! The thing I really miss is fruit. The reality is that you miss the necessities you take for granted when you can easily afford them. The luxuries you are accustomed to seem less important.

I think I will make it to Thursday but living on the food allowed by current welfare rates is about deprivation not about a healthy diet. I am living mostly on pasta, potatoes, beans and cabbage and I am really tired of all of them. There is definitely no joy in doing what 180,000 people in this province do every week. My heart goes out to them. It is time to raise welfare rates. Let’s do everything we can to make that happen.

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