*Some days I wasn’t sure what I was missing most.
I’m writing this post late Friday night. My participation in the Winnipeg Harvest Poverty Pledge is coming to an end. I had expected this to be relatively easy. After all, in 2008 I had lived off of $20 a week for food during Lent. That had to last me the weekend as well. If you visit the post you can tell by the picture there’s quite a haul of food. As I detailed in my first post this week, it wasn’t anywhere near as easy this time around. I felt I was missing out on more in 2015.
What did I find myself missing the most? Number one without a doubt was coffee. It was probably numbers 2,3, and 4 as well. I missed it as a beverage, but I also missed the visits to the coffee shops. Both Twist Café and Espresso Junction are regular stops on my walks to and/or from work. I enjoy their coffee, but I also appreciate the exchanges with the staff at both places. That aspect of my day was also missing during the Poverty Pledge.
Energy was something that also went missing during the five days. Wednesday, was particularly noticeable. I found that by about two in the afternoon, I was feeling a little fuzzy and had a great deal of trouble concentrating. I went home and went to bed at about 7 pm. Slept for three hours and then got up for a couple before going back to bed again.
My meal out for the week was going to be Thursday lunch, but I decided to hedge my bets by buying a little pick-me-up on the way to work. I chose a 50 cent chocolate bar and a can of peaches. That combined with my lunch out gave me all I needed to carry on until the end of challenge.
One of the things that the Poverty Pledge wants to raise awareness of is how people living on Income Assistance find themselves in social isolation. This might have been the oddest part of the Poverty Pledge for me. I’m an introvert by nature, and so I quite enjoy my alone time, but for me this is a luxury. I’ve written in the past about the supper club I sometimes join up with. Well, this week there was a dinner planned, but because I had already chosen to make my meal with my clergy colleagues my one invitation out meal for the week, I couldn’t join the supper club.
I also noticed how fortunate I am, because even though I decided to do the Pledge on rather short notice, I did have offers of food and beverage from friends who were concerned on what I might be missing out on while taking the challenge. Just the fact that I’m a priest brings me into a circle of people with whom I have a bond. It also gives me a chance to tell people what it’s like to go with very little food for a few days. This is something that those who live the life don’t often get.
This was evident when we had our clergy lunch on Thursday. I mentioned the Poverty Pledge, and two or three times before we left I was offered leftovers to take with me. Seeing as it was Shepherd’s Pie this was quite tempting, but I decided to keep a strict interpretation of the no free food rule.
The best part of the clergy lunch was that we ended up talking a lot about food. One of the parishes represented runs a food bank, and all of us have some experience with people seeking help to feed themselves and their families. While we started out talking about food, our conversation spread to other areas such as mincome, and the ideas behind transition cities.
While there were stories about the great needs, there were also encouraging stories about how the various parishes are forming new relationships in our neighbourhoods as a result of these food related activities. As a result of this lunch, my time doing the Poverty Pledge left me with some new hope.
This is the kind of hope I also see in places such as the Bell Tower Community Café. The Café is a place where people can not only get groceries from a food bank, but a meal to share with friends and strangers, as well as an evening of live entertainment in the same setting. These are as important as the groceries they take home.
Poverty Pledge Takeaways:
I have two takeaways from having done the Poverty Pledge.
1.) It is extremely difficult to live of $3.96 a day. If you factor in things such as toiletries it’s virtually impossible.
2.) It doesn’t have to be this way, but we really need to come together more at all levels of society if we are going to change this. It reconfirmed for me the importance of all of us needing to find more ways of spending time eating together.
I’m glad I took the Pledge. Having said that, I think I’m going to find other ways to raise awareness on hunger issues, because in the end, I found myself missing out on too many things, such as energy, focus, friends, and of course coffee. Which reminds me. I think I’ll find a breakfast place with bottomless cups of coffee Saturday morning.