We have finished the 2016 Welfare Food Challenge and it truly was a challenge! My partner, Kevin, and I ate only what we could purchase with $18/week per person, the amount a welfare recipient in BC receives for food. Check out my previous post to see what we bought and why we chose to participate.
So what did we spend our remaining $2.19 on??
By Wednesday we were hungry, missing snacks, and craving fruits and vegetables like never before! So we went to a small produce store nearby and managed to get 2 Ambrosia apples and 2 Bosc pears with the remaining money from our $36 budget and ate them as snacks in the last few days of the challenge.
What did we (2 adults) eat for 7 days with the foods we bought for $36??
- Cooked oatmeal with vanilla yogurt, peanut butter and 1/2 banana and a 6oz black coffee (x 1 day)
- Overnight oats with vanilla yogurt, peanut butter and 1/2 banana and a 6oz black coffee (x 3 days)
- 2 slices of whole wheat toast with 2 fried eggs and a 6oz black coffee (x 1 day)
- 2 slices of whole wheat toast with margarine and peanut butter and a 6oz black coffee (x 2 days)
Breakfast was definitely my favourite meal of the day. The oatmeal portion was smaller (1/3 cup of dry oats) than I would typically have, so the first few days I was feeling pretty hungry by mid-morning without any snacks available, but by the end of the week I was getting used to it. I know I’m late to the game, but can we have a moment to talk about how amazing overnight oats are?!?! It’s something that I will definitely be including in my regular breakfast rotation and can’t wait to try out different combinations. The coffee was definitely a nice treat, but if I decide to do this again I will cut out the coffee! I didn’t feel like I needed it, and would much rather have had a larger portion of oats and more fruits and veggies.
- Frittata (eggs, potato, mushrooms, onion) and 2 slices of whole wheat toast with margarine (x 1 day)
- Perogies with caramelized onion (x 1 day)
- Instant noodles with a hard boiled egg – not pictured because I was so hungry that I ate it before I remembered to take a photo! (x 1 day)
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich (x 1 day)
- Dinner leftovers: Pasta with tomato sauce (x 1 day)
- Dinner leftovers: White bean spinach pasta (x 1 day)
- Dinner leftovers: Black bean chili (x 1 day)
Lunch was less exciting than breakfast and usually a bit of a mind game – how long can I tolerate this feeling of hunger before I have to eat knowing that there would be nothing until dinner time. I generally started to get hungry for lunch around 10:00 and would try to hold off until 11:30-12:30 before eating so that I could make it through my workday afternoon. The instant noodles were less than appetizing but I forced myself to finish them, not allowing anything to go to waste.
- White bean spinach pasta: Macaroni, white kidney beans, frozen spinach, onion, chicken broth (x 3 days)
- Lentil squash curry stew: Butternut squash, red lentils, frozen spinach, onion, curry powder, chicken broth (x 2 days)
- Pasta with tomato sauce: Macaroni, tomato sauce, frozen spinach, mushroom, onion (x 1 day)
- Black bean chili: Crushed tomatoes, black beans, onion, frozen spinach, chili powder (x 1 day)
Dinners were not bad (aside from the “sad chili”), but getting to dinner was even more of a struggle than lunch. I often was so hungry that I couldn’t focus on anything besides getting home and getting dinner into my belly as quickly as possible. I thought a vegetarian chili was going to be a great idea, but unfortunately with only 1 can of black beans serving as 4 portions, it ended up being a watery, bland tomato soup with a few black beans floating in it… hence the nickname “sad chili”.
- Not only did I feel hungry, deprived of proper nutrition and socially isolated, but I also had so much stress about our food supply running out before the end of the week. No child should have to feel hungry or isolated because of food, but unfortunately, 35,000 children in BC do. No parent should have to stress about running out of food for their families, there are enough stresses for parents without having to worry about food supply. No pregnant woman should have to worry about depriving their unborn baby of proper nutrition without having the ability to make a change.
- Our diet on the Welfare Food Challenge was blatantly inadequate in Vegetables & Fruits and Milk & Alternatives which provide critical nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, fibre, antioxidants, and many other vitamins and minerals. And by limiting our sources of protein to primarily nuts and legumes (simply due to $$), our diet was also inadequate in iron, vitamin B12, and zinc.
- Both Kevin and I also lost a considerable amount of weight over the week demonstrating that despite my efforts to choose quantity over quality, it was still not enough. While some people may see this as a positive effect for us in this week, it is not sustainable and within a few short months we would be suffering from malnutrition.
- Though we were able to “make it” through the week on the Welfare Food Challenge, it is clear that $18/week per person for food is horribly inadequate and puts thousands of children and adults in BC at risk of malnutrition which has profound effects on growth, learning, physical and mental development, and contributes to disease.