Left for Damian
Hey here is the first in a series of posts from Damian, who is currently involved in the Do The Math program, an initiative aimed at illustrating the lack of resources available to Toronto's food banks and the families that use them. Here it is in Damian's own words:
Mike or David or Sandy or whoever runs this thing (Octavio St Laurent - ed) has given me the forum to blog about a campaign I'm participating in called "Do The Math". It is being put together by the community food organization STOP. Basically, I have to live off a food bank hamper for a week (or as long as I can). The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of the lack of good food available to people forced to live on social assistance. Here are the basics: (here)
On April 6, 2010, ten high-profile Torontonians (and their families, if they’re joining them) will pick up a standard food bank hamper at The Stop. These hampers—which include an array of non-perishable food, as well as a little bit of fresh produce—typically last a person three or four days, though many folks stretch this to a week or ten days. Our participants will live exclusively off the contents of the hamper for as long as they can. They will not eat out or accept free food or drink (though they are encouraged to eat at least two meals at a drop-in). They will be allowed to use up to five standard pantry ingredients—oil, flour, salt, coffee, etc.—but are asked to keep track of the quantity of these items used.
I picked up my basket this morning and received: a jar of peanut butter, a tin of pasta sauce, a bag of pasta, four eggs, potatoes, onions, a pack of chicken dogs, tea, margarine, tin of peas, two tins of soup, two pears, a tin of chicken (yes, a tin) and some milk. My five pantry items are vegetable oil, flour, salt, soy sauce and spices.
I am well aware that all I am doing is play acting and that I can stop this at anytime but the point of this is not to show me or anyone else what it is like. What it is hopefully going to do is start people putting pressure on the Ontario government to enact some changes. What sort of changes? Well I glad you asked:
We are continuing to build support for the provincial campaign to “Put Food in the Budget,” a campaign launched by The Stop last February in partnership with the Social Planning Network of Ontario and the Association of Local Public Healthy Agencies. This coalition is asking for an additional $100 each month as a first step in addressing the chronic food insecurity and poor health of people on social assistance. In addition to this Healthy Food Supplement, we ask that they also go on to establish a clear and transparent process to set rates based on what it actually costs to live a frugal, but healthy and dignified, life in Ontario.
You can follow my progress on this blog but I have also set up a twitter to document this as well: @leftfordamian. So far the first day it is going pretty well. I made a potato hash and I'm about to start making dinner (a very close variation on lunch I suspect). The only really hard part so far is life without soda. This is one of the only time I have gone without soda in an embarrassingly long time and it sucks.
more to come...