Erin & Mark

May 27, 2010 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment

Mark and I have joined “A Week in Their Kitchen.” For me, this is an opportunity to further explore the shortcomings of social assistance and the limits of emergency food. I am familiar with issues relating to food security (mainly) through my work with the University of Calgary’s Meal Exchange chapter (, but feel this experiential activity will provide me with 1) an adjusted perspective, 2) an opportunity to bring attention to food insecurity in Calgary and 3) a chance to engage in some important discussions in my (relatively) new home in Calgary.

Meal Exchange is a national youth-led organization focused on empowering young people to learn about and fight local hunger through events and experiences that focus on food security. The University of Calgary chapter is new, but in their first year close to 100 students “trick or eated” on Halloween raising over $4,000 for local hunger and over 2,000 lbs of food for the Food Bank. Students also raised over $1,000 through 24 for hunger for Brown Bagging it for Kids. Beyond this, groups of students participate in local discussions about food security and volunteer through various organizations in Calgary.

I’m really looking forward to the discussions prompted by this activity. My husband, Mark, an elementary school teacher, will share this experience with me as we try to stretch a food hamper for a full week. I anticipate feeling many emotions – shock, possibly anger, disbelief? I anticipate feeling hungry, maybe sluggish. I get headaches, but can’t take Advil for those, as per the rules (those who can’t afford to buy groceries, have lesser means to purchase things like over-the-counter pain medication).

What will the hamper contain? Will I know how to prepare it? What will I take for my lunches? Will I make it through the week as a semi-vegetarian (fish only)? Beyond the Food Bank, will I have to rely on other places for emergency food?

What are the limits of this experience? Certainly I cannot begin to understand what it means to rely on emergency food. If I was truly reliant on the Food Bank, social assistance or was making minimum wage, I would be forced to make some really challenging decisions around raising two cats and a dog. I’ll also probably pick up my hamper with the car, knowing how far the Food Bank is from my home, with two transfers I can’t begin to imagine bringing the hamper on the bus/train/bus. Also other aspects of my life will remain comfortable – I know my mortgage is paid and we can continue with the home reno’s. I have cable TV and internet (which will be useful when I have to Google what to do with the contents of my hamper).  Also, if one of the pets has a vet emergency, the car breaks down or the furnace needs to be replaced, I will (likely) have the resources to address said emergency. Beyond that, I’ll also know that this experience lasts a week, while too many others in Calgary and across the country truly need emergency food and are forced to make difficult decisions between food and rent, food and leisure, food and health etc…


Entry filed under: Erin.

Tim & Leah Michelle

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