Dan LaCute

Dan LaCute: Principal of St Andrews Catholic Elementary School

Dan LaCute: Principal of St Andrews Catholic Elementary School

Occupation: Educator, Principal – St. Andrew School
Favorite food: Pasta
Guiltiest food pleasure: My wife’s chocolate brownies
Family size: 6
Estimate of how much you and your family spend on food per week: $250
Why you are participating in this project: As a local Principal, I find it very disheartening that children account for 37 per cent of the clients at the Orangeville Food Bank. As well, as a school community, we have always supported the Orangeville Food Bank with our school food drives. I wanted to better understand, even just for a few days, just how it feels to have to rely on the food bank and perhaps experience the hunger that comes between meals that are not quite as satisfying as the ones I am fortunate to have.
Why this issue is important to you: I hope that my school community and the community at large in Orangeville will see the need to support all of our citizens and consider a regular donation to the Orangeville Food Bank throughout the year as a way of demonstrating that we are caring and compassionate people. God has truly blessed me and my family and I certainly look for opportunities such as this, to share my blessings with others!

Day 1

What are you missing the most?
What are your challenges with cooking?
None so far. Just cooking up some kraft noodles for dinner. Definitely not something I normally have but up for the challenge!
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality people facing economic hardship and having to visit a food bank.
My reality ends after 3 days. I don’t see that as a hardship but rather an inconvenience. What I imagine would be a reality is when people who suddenly need the food bank have to swallow their pride in order to admit they need help from others.
The number one thing you want to share with family and friends.
I want to share my journey of how it feels not to open a full fridge and how I need to ration to make my food items last 3 days. I would imagine I will be hungry at certain times of the day. A good reminder of what others using the food bank most likely feel on a regular basis.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
I learned, in speaking to a food bank worker that 67% of people who use the food bank only goes 2 or 3 times over the course of the year. To me, that means A LOT of people have yo admit to needing help to feed themselves and their families at one time or another.

Day 2

  1. Today, I certainly missed my routine – peanut butter and jam on an English muffin. I am definitely a creature of habit and having oatmeal this morning broke a 12-year record. Last time I ran out of English muffins, I got a speeding ticket. I was awfully careful to stay within the speed limit on my way to a meeting in Mississauga today!
  2. Preparing a basic meal was not an issue today as I mixed some beans into my plain rice as it cooked away. I also cut up two potatoes and an onion and cooked those up together as well. After sitting down to have my nice but simple meal (and ½ can of beets and a thin slice of bread) while my family happily ate one of my favourite meals right in front of me (mmmm…..pasta!), I suddenly realized how difficult it is not to be able to eat something you want when you wish you could have it.  I also quickly discovered that I don’t have many items left to last the rest of the challenge! I guess I’ll have to be more careful during the next 48 hours. Portion control will hopefully get me by!
  3. I noticed throughout different times of the day today, that I felt hungry. Normally when I feel hungry, I just grab a piece of fruit or some carrots and celery. It was not was not an option. I really missed my three pieces of fruit I normally have each day. In the bag of food supplies, I didn’t have a single piece of fresh fruit. Upon reflecting on Day 2, I realize that I certainly have taken it for granted that our family’s fruit bowl is almost always full. I look over my left shoulder to longingly gaze at that glorious fruit bowl as I am blogging. I miss you fruit! On a serious note, this is not my reality. My challenge will soon be over. The daily reality is for the people who need (not want!) to visit the food bank and who struggle to figure out just how they are going to make their donated food last. I am one person. How do parents make food last between their monthly visits? How often do their children go to bed hungry? That is a reality I sit here struggling with knowing that I am sufficiently full from my rice, beans and beets concoction.
  4. I hope that as people read this today, they will think twice about their ability to go to the grocery store and basically get what you want and not necessarily what you need. Those of us who don’t think twice about tossing an extra item or two in the grocery cart, I hope we can stop taking this for granted. Not all members of our community are that fortunate.

Day 3

What are you missing the most?
I am missing pasta with lots of vegetables in a rich tomato sauce!
What are your challenges with cooking?
I enjoy cooking (ok, who’s fooling who?)… when my wife cooks, she uses lots of fresh vegetables. The only items I had in my three-day ration of food that required any cooking were the two potatoes, onion and plain rice. The challenge was making it taste appetizing. I decided to add some brown beans and cumin and pepper to the rice while it cooked and drizzled the onions and potatoes with rosemary garlic seasoning. I think I made my wife smile or was that a smirk at my attempt at cooking something tasty?
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
Today, I really felt hungry and kept thinking about how much I miss the three pieces of fresh fruit I have on a daily basis. That fruit bowl is now directly in front of me on the kitchen counter as I type this blog. I may have to move to finish this blog as the temptation is almost irresistible. During this second full day of the challenge, I often thought about the fact that some people in my own school community may have in the past, or are presently, facing economic hardship and limited access to food and I may not even know about their situation. For some parents in the Dufferin area, just trying to keep it together for the sake of the family must be such a burden. I wish I could somehow lift that burden from them but I know I can’t unless they ask for help. I hope people in my school community and all school communities across Canada, know our teachers and principals are there to help when in time of need.
The number one thing you want to share with family and friends.
I want to share with everyone how this challenge has made me more aware, physically (through hunger), mentally and spiritually, how God has truly blessed me. I can support my family without feeling the struggle that many do and that it is my responsibility, as well as others like me, to support those who are less fortunate. No one deserves to go to bed hungry.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
Through this challenge, I learned that next week is National Hunger Awareness Week (May 5-9). I am embarrassed to say that I have not been aware of this week in the past. I shared this information with my school community in my newsletter today and I’m hoping I can help to draw attention to the importance of awareness first and action next.