Monday December 5
I began a social experiment today…what is a social reality for many. I have taken up a challenge from Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall to Eat The Math. He and I and several other local politicians and media people are going to survive (try to survive?) on a box of food items such as would be given out by St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Victoria Harbour. Among the items (see picture above): a box of dry cereal, apple juice, peanut butter, six eggs, six apples, six tea bags, a package of spaghetti, two sleeves of crackers and one tin each of things like tuna, vegetables and soup. I’m not sure how this is going to play out but Erin Chapelle, who organized this for The Karma Project, has a pretty good idea…
So here’s how the week began for me – a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal and a cup of tea – not far off the norm. Lunch might be my one box of a no-name mac n cheese dinner or a pack of Ramen noodles or a few crackers and peanut butter. As for dinner tonight…I’ll fill you in tomorrow.
Tuesday December 6
So I made it through day one, feeling hungry and missing the snacking between meals…the cookies, the can of pop (things I could probably do without anyway, but when you’re used to having them, you feel the void). And I spent a good portion of the day staring into my box of food – what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner, how do I make my two sleeves of crackers last, can I stretch that can of soup into two meals. Erin Chapelle of The Karma Project is not surprised…
For breakfast today, another bowl of Cap’n Crunch and a cup of tea. I had set aside two apples to bring to work to snack on mid-morning (my day begins at 4am) but I forgot them on the kitchen table, so I’ll load up on water again today and look forward to those apples at lunch-time…if the dogs haven’t discovered them.
Tuesday Update…the dogs did not discover my apples! I consumed my lone box of No-Name Mac and Cheese for lunch and had a cup of apple juice. For dinner, I cooked half of my package of spaghetti, mixing it with the tin of no-name spaghetti sauce and the tin of Vienna Sausages (basically chicken wieners). Some was left over for another lunch or dinner.
Wednesday December 7
Into day three now of my Eat The Math experience. I feel hungry most of the time. I’m listless. And Erin Chapelle was right when she suggested the novelty of this would wear off. I don’t look forward to meal time.
Peter Sundborg at the Barrie Food Bank told me yesterday there are options outside of the box of food I’ve been given for the week…
I switched things up for breakfast this morning, having crackers and peanut butter instead of Cap’n Crunch, which added some variety to the week. For lunch, two fried eggs. Dinner was leftover vegetable soup from Monday night beefed up with the noodles from my pack of Ramen noodles (did not use the flavour packet on the advice of media colleague Heather Butts at CTV Barrie, who is also taking the challenge). It was tasty, but far from filling, so I cut up an apple and lathered the slices with peanut butter – which has become a staple. Oh, and I jumped on the scale this morning…I’ve lost two pounds this week.
Thursday December 8
A headache started coming on last night. I rarely get headaches and they rarely last very long. This one has; not sure if it’s related to my diet this week or not. Breakfast again this morning was crackers and peanut butter. I caught a break mid-morning with our stations’ monthly breakfast meeting taking advantage of some fresh fruit, home fries, a couple of slices of bacon and egg & cheese of an English muffin. I’ll be honest, I had wavered back and forth on whether to partake in this, thinking it was not in the spirit of the Eat The Math. It was a conversation with Barrie Food Bank’s Peter Sundborg that tipped the scale for me. He said many who rely on food banks are living paycheque-to-paycheque trying to put food on the table. Taking advantage of a ‘free’ meal, be it at a work function or at the Salvation Army or Rose Romita’s Christmas dinner, he said, is not out of character for a food bank client. It was good while it lasted, by mid-afternoon the empty feeling was back, so was the listlessness. I snacked on more crackers and peanut butter to get me through until dinner which tonight was two poached eggs (haven’t had them in years!) with crackers for dipping in the yoke. I also had more of the left over fruit salad for dessert. There are two eggs left in the fridge, a few crackers, cans of tuna, creamed corn and green beans, some peanut butter, a bit of apple juice, two apples, half a package of spaghetti and left over spaghetti from Tuesday’s dinner. Oh, and the Cap’n Crunch in my desk drawer at work. A few things to work with on the fifth and final day of Eat The Math tomorrow.
Friday December 9
So I’ve made it to Day Five – the final day of Eat The Math. Apart the brief reprieve from the food bank box yesterday morning (see above) the week has been as advertised – some excitement, wonder and trepidation at first followed by rationing, hunger, slight weight loss and not looking forward to mealtime. One of the reasons for doing this is to help raise awareness of what it’s like to rely on food banks..the impact it has on one’s life and one’s health. Another, as organizer Erin Chapelle points out in our interview (below), is to get politicians to take action…
In the meantime, food banks are pushed to the limit, donations are not always the most nutritious items and are often a generic brand. Moving forward I’ll be more mindful of items I purchase for the food bank, looking for healthier options, perhaps making a financial donation instead to allow the food bank to buy fresh fruit and vegetables to give to families in need.
—Brett Glover here, hijacking Dan’s story for a few minutes, to share an interview with Dan, capping off his week of willpower: