Getting adjusted…

June 1, 2010 at 12:12 am 3 comments

The Food Bank is open M-F and client pick-up times (at least on Mondays) are 1:00-3:30pm and 6:30-7:30pm. The Food Bank in Calgary (as in other regions) provides emergency assistance, and is not meant to be a primary source of support for Calgarians. Today I registered for my first of as many as seven visits for this year. I can go to the food bank three times (provided my visits are 30 days apart) without a referral from an agency – but beyond that, I’d need somewhere like the Bowwest Community Resource Centre to refer me. As my first visit, I had to register, providing two pieces of ID… and ID for my husband. First mistake. I didn’t bring his ID and I was told that he’d have to come on his own for his own hamper. Luckily, I had some papers in my bag with his Driver’s License number, so I managed to pick up a hamper for both of us. Luckily, I also arranged to get our car today – I can’t imagine bringing a hamper for two people (let alone a family) on transit. This way, I got the milk and veggies in the fridge almost right away. My second mistake however, was getting caught up in the process of standing in line, answering questions about my economic situation and trying to take in all the information that was given to me. I forgot to tell the volunteers I was a vegetarian. I’m not sure it would have mattered, but I should have said something. Will I eat the all-beef weiners or will I leave them to my husband? Don’t be surprised if I do. We’ll see how creative I get and how far I can make 1-dozen eggs and two cartons of milk stretch. Without cheese or tofu… I did get produce – an awful lot of plantains – that kind of makes me happy because I just returned from a service trip to a remote community in Costa Rica, and my host mom made me fried plantains almost every day. In case I didn’t know how to prepare them, the Food Bank volunteer gave me some suggestions and explained which ones were ripe, and which were not. He suggested I Google some recipes. This is assuming I have internet access at home, I guess.

The other produce will need to be used quickly. I turned down a second head of lettuce (despite being a veggie) because I know I’ll have a hard enough time using one head of past-due lettuce. I may also need to make some mushroom soup, becasue I got an awful lot of mushrooms. They also have the beginnings of some brown spots – surely edible, just not what I would buy for myself at the supermarket.

I got fewer of the things I expected to get. No dried legumes (and not that many canned beans either). No pasta and only a bit of white rice. Lots of bread, cookies, candy, and things I wouldn’t purchase at the grocery store (like cotton candy and bubblegum flavoured pudding). Maybe I should have said I was celiac, or diabetic. Or vegetarian. I got several packages of coleslaw veggies – but no mayonaise or oil or vinegar to mix with it. I’m going to have to rethink dinner tonight. I am surprised about the quantity of food that I received; I am also concerned about the assortment of food I received. It seems like a lot of odds and ends, but not a lot of things that can be put together for a ‘normal’ meal. I can make peanut butter sandwiches. I can make hotdogs (but haven’t any condiments). I swear I don’t have any pasta so that’s out. I can use my flour at home to make a pastry crust for a quiche with all the mushrooms – but I’ll have to really stretch the eggs and thin them with some milk…oh yeah, and there won’t be any cheese. And I always eat quiche with ketchup. I can use some of the bread, milk and eggs (they’re not going to last) to make french toast (I have a thing of corn syrup). Beyond that, we’re going to have to get creative.

Because of my work with students on food security and our partnerships with the Food Bank this year, I am fairly familiar with the emergency food system, and the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. My husband is less familiar with these issues and the services in Calgary (we’re originally from Ontario). In retrospect, I probably should have brought him with me. Third mistake, I guess. But I’ll post Mark’s first impressions later.


Entry filed under: Erin.

Kristen Darren and Jen – Hamper pick up

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Julie  |  June 1, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Ha- I had the same problems with ID – fortunately my husband was with me, but we didn’t have any ID for our 4 year old! They made an exception for us.

  • 2. Nina  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

    You have inspired me to donate to our local food bank. It just happens that this week Purolator is collecting food donations while they go around on their normal truck runs and they will drop off the boxes of food at the local food bank.

  • 3. Erin  |  June 3, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Nina – thanks for following. This has been a remarkable learning experience. I can hardly sleep at night with everything running through my head. Some really great conversations this week!


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