Heather Hayes

Occupation: Service Coordinator, Dufferin Child and Family Services & Deputy Mayor Mulmur Township
Favorite food: Depends on the season
Guiltiest food pleasure: Ice Cream
Family size: 3.5 (oldest at college)
Estimate of how much you and your family spend on food per week: $225.00 to $250.00 per week depending on what’s on sale
Why you are participating in this project: I want a better understanding of what some of my clients and ratepayers experience. My experiences will help build a better understanding of the quantity of food available from the food bank and what effect it has on people both emotionally and physically.
Why this issue is important to you: e are expecting the people who have least amount of resources to make the most out of the least. Before joining DCAFS I taught cooking classes to children and later to adults.  I believe that we have lost some skills over the past few generations since the removal of home economics from the school system.  Most us have to work within a budget but the skills of pre planning, using beans in something other than a chilli, re-purposing leftovers etc have not been passed on.  I want to see all sides of the issue and work on solving a problem that effects all of us to varying degrees.  I know we can do better supporting each other and learning new skills for future generations.

Day 1 – Getting Started

Getting ready to start the challenge. Having the list of food for the last few days and I have already spent an enormous amount of head space on how to combine foods within what I have been given. Started bargaining with myself about how I could maybe trade an item from the list for something I would use ie juice boxes for another can of veg. If I haven’t started yet I can only imagine what it must be like to have this challenge and worry every month. Thank you for the opportunity to have these inner dialogues.

Day 2

What are you missing the most?
Fresh veg
What are your challenges with cooking?
Thought I’d had things figured out for meal planning with the list provided then I unpacked the bags. All my clever planning was out the window. So I went with KD for dinner. Kept coming back to table to look at ingredients. Still not sure what I will be doing for dinner. Normally that is off my plate by this time in the morning.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
I am surprised how I feel about not having the choice to eat what I want today. Work, family, council all have obligations that need to be met but food is my choice alone and now that is decided by someone else. Really struggling with that.
The number one thing you want to share with family and friends.
Typically I would not eat sweet things for breakfast, I rarely have juice and I don’t eat store bought cookies. I’m looking at my supplies and if I want to stay full I’ll be eating cookies and cream instant oatmeal this morning. Again my choices are limited or taken away.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
This is a heavy weight and it’s less than 24 hrs in

Day 3

What are you missing the most?
FIBER!
What are your challenges with cooking?
With such a limited pantry (margarine, coffee, tea, soy sauce, spice) it was difficult to combine last night dinner ingredients into a tasty meal. Oldest son was the only one to try it and said it was edible, he had worse in college but would not cross the street for it. Added, it had a lingering after taste that wasn’t quite right.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
We wonder how people using the food bank can be overweight. I have a better understanding now. The food does fill you up but it lacks fiber, green anything, and is filled with refined sugars. Day 3 finds me bloated and feeling off. A steady diet of this and I would be struggling with my weight, health and general mental well being.
The number one thing you want to share with family and friends.
Watching others in the lunch room eat salads and knowing I had half a can of soup had me eating outside away from the rest of the group. Didn’t expect to feel isolated. Battled with self most of the night to have a “treat” as it seemed everyone else had more than I did at every meal yesterday. Maybe that’s why you break “the rules” of your budget etc and find yourself ordering fast food or a large double double.
Did you learn anything new? Other comments?
People congratulate you on doing this and then move on to another subject when you talk about being hungry. You can’t see “hungry” maybe that’s why it’s easy to move around it.

Day 4

What are you missing the most?
FIBER and green things
What are your challenges with cooking?
Not much of a challenge today as there is nothing to put together. Eating left over casserole for the third time.
Your thoughts on taking the challenge vs. the reality for people facing economic hardship and limited access to food.
I feel gross. I’m bloated,grumpy and hungry. My mind space is taken up with what I will eat and convincing myself it’s fine. The idea of lifting myself out of this is not even registering. There is no space for other thoughts. Technically enough calories BUT……..so many buts.
The number one thing you want to share with family and friends.
I won’t be buying a lot of food for the food bank in the future. I’m going to start giving gift cards or money. People should have choice,dignity and control over their lives.