Living on foodbank food
Written By: Monday, December 5th 2016

Ever wonder what it is like to have to rely on the foodbank?

I am taking part in the “Eat the Math” challenge – where members of the media, politicians and some high school students are invited to live on the contents of an emergency food bank hamper for five days, December 5-9th.

Learn more about Eat the Math here at the Karma Project Facebook page

I admit I have more experience at this than many. This was my life 20 plus years ago, when I was a single mom with three small children. I know what it feels like to rely on food banks. Feeling shame, embarrassment, worthlessness is not easily forgotten. And if it’s anything like the food that is provided to foodbank users, not much has changed in the past two decades.

The Food

6 eggs
6 apples
1 pkg ramen noodles
1 tin Habitant soup
1 tin tuna
1 small tin of Vienna chicken sausages
1 tin cream corn
1 tin vegetables
1 box no name macaroni and cheese
1 tin fruit cocktail
10 tea bags
1 tetra apple juice
1 jar peanut butter
1 box Captain Crunch cereal
2 sleeves of crackers

I am very pleased to have the eggs for a source of protein, and the apples for fresh fruit. However, most of the other items are things I would not normally eat. The salt and sugar content are high, and the nutritional value is low. I avoid most processed foods as a rule because of this.

Preparation will be the key this week, so I am trying to pre-plan my meals and snacks.

The Plan

I will need two “meals” and several smaller snacks each day, and will try to evenly distribute the protein sources over the course of the five days.
On Thursday, I am hosting the day long Feeding Families radio auction, which means free lunch and snacks at work. I also want to experience what it is like to attend a soup kitchen to supplement what the food bank provides.

So I will need a total of eight meals:
pasta and sauce (2 meals)
macaroni and cheese with tuna, green beans (2 meals)
ramen noodles with sausages (2 meals)
soup with half sleeve crackers (2 meals)

The can of fruit cocktail will be divided into five portions to eat as a “dessert”.
The cereal will also be divided into five portions for a daily snack.
I will eat one apple per day, sliced with peanut butter – the extra apple can be eaten when I feel I need a bit of a boost.
Four boiled eggs will be snacks (MTW and F)- two will be scrambled for breakfast on Thursday.
Peanut butter and crackers is another snack option.
Drinks are limited to water, apple juice and black tea. Each tea bag can be used twice so that means two teas in the morning, and two at night if I want.
Not a fan of cream corn, so I might mix it in with the soup to stretch it a little further.

It sure leaves a lot to be desired, but for many, their Eat the Math “challenge” is doing this day to day and week to week. It is not a game.

Follow Along

I will be blogging about my experience and also posting to social media using the hash tags

Your observations, suggestions and personal experiences are welcome, so feel free to react, like and share the posts.