Audrey Anne Guay, Day 1
This week, my community and I are participating in the welfare food challenge. I, along with others in the province of BC, will be eating only what can be bought with $21, the money left over for food on a welfare budget. No food banks, no free food, no access to pantry or garden.
Today, I ate an orange for breakfast, 2 eggs + 2 pieces of toast for lunch, and lentil soup for dinner. Not a bad first day, and after a long day, I am feeling fed.
Here is the sum total of my day.
I bought: green lentils (2.78), a dozen eggs (2.64), 3lb onions (.97), 4 bananas (1.35), sliced brown bread (2.47), salt + pepper (1.25), olive oil blend (1.25), 2 apples (.61), 2 oranges (.61), 1 bunch of spinach (1.49), 1 bag of stir fry vegetable mix (1.00). Current total is $16.42, which leaves me a bit over $4.50.
I made 4 trips to 3 different grocery stores to get the best deals out there. And I cooked up a large pot of lentil soup, because if it’s good enough for my dad to eat every day for lunch, it’s good enough for me.
At the end of my first day, I am surprised by many things. I am surprised by how hard it was for me to pay attention during manuscript study when I had only eaten an orange. I am surprised that the most expensive things I bought today were lentils, eggs, and bread–foods I usually consider the simplest staples of my diet. That I raged with fiery hanger at ever cafe I walked by where people sipped on $5.00 cappuccinos and sunk their teeth into greasy, cheesy paninis. That I felt so restricted to not be able to share resources with friends/housemates.
Most of all I am surprised at how much I thought about things I usually don’t think of. Like how much time I spent acquiring and preparing food. Or how much energy it all took. I have new-found admiration for neighbours who feed themselves and their kids on this budget year round and have time and energy left over for work and community involvement. They have skills and resiliency I have never needed.
Over the weekend I attended a play one of my neighbours acted in. In it, one character shared about being homeless, “At the end of the day, when you have somewhere to sleep and you’ve been fed, you’re free.”
Tonight I have a safe home to sleep in and I’ve eaten 3 meals, however simple. Yet my mind and heart feel consumed by hunger, the need to plan, the fear to be in need, and lots of anger. I guess I have 6 more days to learn to be free from all of the above.