Elaine Capes

Elaine Capes and Family

Elaine Capes and Family

Occupation: Husband – GM and VP of Steel Company, Self – Performance and Learning Consultant – self employed
Favorite food: Anything someone else makes – but especially fish
Guiltiest food pleasure: Chocolate cake
Family size: 4
Estimate of how much you and your family spend on food per week: $250 – however we also purchase beef, lamb and chickens from local producers for the freezer so that weekly grocery does not always include these.
Why you are participating in this project: We have been fortunate to not have experienced food insecurity. I believe that no humans’ knowledge exceeds their experience and so to have an appreciation for food insecurity and increase our understanding of what it would be like, we decided to participate in this program. We are grateful for the knowledge we will gain from this as a family.
Why this issue is important to you: I feel its important for my children to appreciate what they have and experience what others less fortunate are faced with. We sometimes take things for granted and are not aware of the food we waste and how much that could mean if we didn’t have the means to secure food in the way we are accustomed to. Having a greater awareness encourages consciousness about the food we have and making sure we a grateful for what we have and generous in sharing with others and contributing to bringing about change to reduce the food insecurity in our community.

Day 1

What are you missing the most?
fresh fruit and vegetables and protein
What are your challenges with cooking?
No real challenge for cooking dinners we managed to pair everything together for a dinner each day from today until Monday. The challenge is school lunches. There is bread – tuna and eggs – neither of which my children are fans of. THey are thankful for the cookies and the juice boxes neither of which they usually get. Not a challenge for cooking but a challenge for diet is the high amounts of sodium in the canned products. In reading the labels some are better than others. Tonights dinner was the linguine with tomato sauce and green beans fried with one onion and spices. So tonight was easy and quite good.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
It’s easy to take a challenge for 5 days. I can’t imagine what this is like for those who are dependant on food banks and have a limited diet. It makes me think there may be an opportunity for educating the generous members of the population who donate to the food banks on what to look for in the items they select i.e. low sodium and alternative protein sources – dried lentils and beans other than brown beans. It also presents the issue of helping people in the preparation so that they can prepare things that may not be familiar and to make their meals as protein rich and balanced as possible.
The number one thing you want to share with family and friends.
That I am grateful for all I have, including the people who would support me if I needed to call on them and I am thankful for being able to have our family participate in this initiative.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
I appreciated the staff at the food bank who explained how the process works and for their commitment to help others. I was not aware of the intake process. Having this experience and knowledge will help me share the process with others and have information to explain how well the food bank is managed in terms of knowing who is coming and making sure the system is not being abused and making the experience as respectful as possible.

Day 2

What are you missing the most?
Anything fresh.
What are your challenges with cooking?
Tonight for dinner we had left over linguine with tuna, canned green beans and mayo – easy to prepare as the noodles were cooked. Some of us heated theirs in the microwave and others ate this cold. And 3 members also had one can of chicken noodle soup. Spoonfuls of peanut butter made a good snack in the afternoon. The kids are “starving hungry”.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
I wonder about health implications – after only one day myself and one of my daughters have raging headaches. And I have been very thirsty.. drinking a great deal of water and have a dry mouth.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
Its very hard not to snack in between meals.

Day 3

What are you missing the most?
Fresh green anything especially lettuce, my children are missing fruit.
What are your challenges with cooking?
Friday is usually Pizza night around our house, has been for 20 years, but tonight we are eating stir fried rice with canned mixed veggies, our last onion and 4 eggs broken into the mix for protein. We actual have this as a meal often usually with chicken or pork.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
Today I found myself not eating so my kids would have more choice. Lunch packing is difficult – there is no fruit and no veggies with dip, no protein. One of my children is going off to Cadet camp for the weekend and will have the experience of eating Army food some prepared in the mess and some that comes in foil packages that are dried and boiled in water. In addition to not eating – I find I will eat anything .. I’m not fond of anything that is not fresh but today I ate the left over KD ( about a half cup ) and had a spoonful of peanut better to round things off.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
I feel tired and grumpy and wonder how people are expected to be sharp of mind and energetic enough to work and look after their families.

Day 4

What are you missing the most?
Not having a headache.
What are your challenges with cooking?
Today is Saturday .. we are all home together – except for the one who is off at camp. We have run out of milk so rice krispies are not so good .. my husband said there’s no way he’s going without milk so he went to the store. I’m ok with a single egg, which today I made into a small omelette with nothing else in it. We are out of bread so no sandwiches. Lunch is soup with no crackers. Tonight my husband and I were out for dinner .. this was planned long ago … yes I feel guilty about having real food while my daughter stays home having KD … at dinner I am so hungry I eat the chocolate that’s sitting at my place. I never eat gravy or sauce but there are 2 people at the table with the same name with requests for special meals .. I give the meal up to the other Elaine and tell the server he can bring me a sandwich if there is no other meal – he comes back with the dinner .. covered in gravy .. I ATE IT.  Iate desert and then after felt … well … over done.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
We are very fortunate to be able to go to a large social event and enjoy a meal such as this… some people would not have this “out” from eating the food supplied by a food bank.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
Starving and then eating a large meal does not make your stomach feel good.

Day 5

What are you missing the most?
In my diet fresh veggies, salad, protein … the ability to make sure my children are getting a nutritious, balanced diet the ability to go to the freezer, fridge or cupboard to get out the items I am used to using and eating
What are your challenges with cooking?
My daughter had a friend who slept over last night and had KD and they are eating Rice Krispies for Breakfast and again for Lunch. They are starving hungry … yet committed to the challenge. We have no more eggs, no more bread .. my husband and I split a can of tuna with vinegar and pepper on it.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
We planned out each day and tried to make the allotted food stuffs last for as long as possible. We received 20lbs of food and we are only able to make this last 6 days. A family who depends on the food bank would get 30lbs of food and would only be able to pick this up ONCE in the month. Where do they get the rest of their meals from ?
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
I have learned it is easy to not have food myself but that it is very difficult to starve your children and to try to make them feel they are being cared for when I cannot provide them the basic necessity of food. I have learned that my daughter has a great deal of strength and conviction despite having a ragging headache everyday and being hungry, and seeing other children eat. She has helped me stay strong to meet the challenge. She faced the physical demands of assisting me run our riding lessons for 2 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday, and with the usual ranch chores.

Final Thoughts

What are you missing the most?
The ability to feed my children well
What are your challenges with cooking?
Trying to make a balanced meal without being able to make the decision from having choices .. cooking what we had was not the difficulty .. not having the food to make a balanced meal and to provide protein was.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
While I appreciate food banks and the generosity of donators – this is not an answer to feeding the population of people who need assistance. I feel that grocery stores could take a very small % of what they earn to provide food cards to those in need so that they could shop to feed themselves. The amount of food that is wasted and composted or that goes beyond its best by date is more food than would be needed to feed those who currently need to draw on the food bank. Also providing the education needed to support better eating on a fixed income (many of us would benefit from this) this is knowledge and skill that has disappeared from our society to a large degree. A focus on teaching so people have a higher degree of confidence about food and how to shop and stretch what they purchase – we could have a healthier solution for both physical and emotional nutrition.
The number one thing you want to share with family and friends.
This was difficult for our family in many ways … especially for the kids .. having to go to school with strange foods .. or no food as one daughter elected to do .. but they were willing to accept this challenge even if they did not like it …. yesterday I bought a few groceries … one daughter (the one that did not eat all weekend at Cadet camp) sat and ate a banana like it was the most delicious morsel she had ever eaten – she savoured every bite – and made comment after comment about how delicious it was. I think all of us have an enhanced appreciation for the food we are able to have access to because we are fortunate to be able to do this. I also think there will be less food wasted in this house as a result of this experience.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
My neighbour offered to provide food for us … a dinner guest we had last night said they would have brought their own tin of brown beans had they known about our challenge .. people are generous and if they can they will help – this is not new information for me but its over whelming to feel this generosity. We can educate those who want to help how to help differently … if we need food banks as a stop gap then we need the right food at the food banks, we need to help people make better contributions. The other thing I learned is this type of diet not only makes you feel bad I gained weight from trying to satisfy hunger with rice and linguine.