Darren and Jen – Hamper pick up

June 1, 2010 at 12:59 am Leave a comment

I went to the launch of the Husky Helping the Hungry Week and got my snapshot with, well, @leahblonde… 🙂  Good start, I figured.

This has been something I’ve been thinking about for the past week.  Then as the minutes ticked by and it was time for me to head down to pick up my hamper, I began getting more nervous.  You can’t really put your thumb on what it is that’s built up the angst in you, until you sit in the car, navigate your way through the city and are a short distance away from the Food bank.

Then it all becomes clear.

I’m a professional. A person whom many look to as someone of some limited stature in the community – being in the newspaper business. It dawned on me – what if someone I know sees me walking up to get a food hamper?  What does that look like to them? Do the rumours start?  How do I feel about that? What’s going to be in it? Questions, questions, questions. Problem: my image of self-importance and perception of those needing the food bank requires serious balancing.

I get inside and I am immediately ushered to the window for participants in the blog experiment.  The wonderful woman (who’s name I didn’t get – read: bad journalist) immediately began asking for ID.. OK… I have it – but I have none for Jen. Ugh.

After providing my scenario of Jen being stricken with pregnancy complications and unable to work, I got a referral to Best Beginnings – a program for low income pregnant women that provides moms-to-be a wealth of information and support.  Good info to give out.

I got the green light to get my hamper.  It begins.

Then, the lovely Brooke says, “I hope you have enough room in your trunk”, and I see them piling the food into the bins. I’m a blue-binner. Then it hits me again.  I’m dressed well, I’m fiddling with my Blackberry and thinking, “I have three sets of golf clubs and snowboard gear in my trunk.  I felt low.  I told Brooke I felt small.  I enjoy luxuries – others struggle for food.

At that point I felt ashamed.  Not for being at the food bank collecting a hamper – but for being so material. Don’t get me wrong – I work hard for what I earn, and I enjoy the fruits of my labour. But, we also try to spend wisely in our family. In fact – I had a hissy fit this weekend because Jen wouldn’t let me buy an iPad – a completely REASONABLE expense, I thought.

And now it becomes more clear how silly I was being.

Let’s get on to the hamper itself. (This post is getting longer by the second).

I was quick through – except for the small plantain conversation I had with one of the volunteers.  He said you could make a lot of different things with plantains – just type it into Google – and I said I’d make it work.

Then I met volunteer Len, who gave me the run down on the food, as I stacked it in my cart.  One thing that struck me going through the line: the volunteers are proud people, happy to be giving a hand.  And they should be proud. Len was proud to be helping and providing his expertise to the Calgary Food Bank.

Now for initial impressions on the amount of food in the hamper:  We would never eat all of this in a week.

I had a back and forth Twitter conversation with Brooke about how candid I was supposed to be in this blog – and, for lack of a better way to put it, she said: be honest.

Let me preface the honesty by saying, I understand this is donation-driven, and more money is sorely needed to help balance out the hamper meals.  But… on one hand I found myself pleasantly surprised by what it had in it – and puzzled by other selections.

First the good:  Lots of staples –  milk, eggs, sauces, pasta, breads, produce (apples, oranges, lettuce, peppers) butter and extra milk, because Jen is pregnant. Good supply of canned goods for chili, stew, and other dishes.

Good mix of nutrition here.  It made up probably 60 to 70% of the food hamper.  Way to go, Calgary Food Bank.

Now the bad: Surprised by the amount of food that (I’m sorry for the honesty) wouldn’t appear at my house in the quantities they appeared in the hamper.  Yes, we have a bag of cookies – but not two bags of chocolate chip cookies, and a box of Oreos. Puddings, turnovers – they’re treats, but they’re also somewhat unhealthy, aren’t they?

We don’t really eat candy in our home (I have two older sons), unless it’s a one-shot deal once in a while – or when Grandma and Grandpa are around.  I received a bag of it from the Calgary Food Bank. I can appreciate, however that for many families trying to scrape together their pennies, that treats like this don’t come very often.

Also from the perspective of a family that is used to eating chicken, pork or beef at least three or four times a week, not seeing much for meat was interesting – but not entirely unexpected, considering the cost of fresh meat and the fact its quite perishable.

To round out the hamper there was toilet paper, kleenex, meal replacement drinks, et al.  Not too terribly bad.  In fact, quite good considering that much of it comes from donations.  The nutrition is rounded out (minus the ‘treat’ food) and we’ll make this work.

Immediately I set to work on preparing a chili that Jen and I can eat for a couple of days in a row.

That’s it for now.  Will probably update this more than Brooke wants me to. 🙂



Entry filed under: Darren.

Getting adjusted… That’s a lot of food

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