Friends! Hello. It’s Elizabeth here.
Ah it’s good to be back. And hard to believe a month has just flown by. I’ve so enjoying reading Chris’s posts (isn’t my sister awesome?), and after a wee break am so pumped to be back blogging again.
I should say though, as much as I was hoping to take a month “off”, there hasn’t been a shortage of DIY-ing in my life. Three weeks ago, my friend Darrell spent an evening with a group of us, learning to spin wool and make lib balm (so fun! posts to come!!) while making a radio piece about 52 Projects, to air soon on Radio Netherlands! Two visioning sessions took place with folks from The Otesha Project to start a wonderful collective quilting project. And the knitting machine (ie my hands) have been at it, producing a pair of leg warmers and arm warmers and 2 winter hats!
Needless to say, there will be lots of great posts coming up. But before I get back into the How Tos, I wanted to take a moment to talk about something a little different.
I’ve mentioned a few times on here that I’m now working for an incredible organization called The Stop Community Food Centre. The Stop started 30 years ago as one of North America’s first food banks. Over the past 10-15 years, it has transformed into much more than that. We’ve worked to enhance the quality of our emergency food services, while offering a host of other food-related programs – from community gardens and kitchens, to after school programs for youth, from low-income and farmer-driven markets to peri-natal nutrition programs.
There’s also an amazing piece of work that happens around civic engagement and community advocacy. Included in this is the “Do The Math” challenge, and next week I’m taking part in a unique way.
Before I get into the challenge, though, let’s just hear the facts:
Right now in Ontario, a single person on social assistance gets $585/month to live.
$585! Take a minute to think about that. I personally could barely cover my rent — a small basement in a house in Toronto’s west-end — with that money, let alone pay for food, phone/internet, transportation, etc.
The point of the Do The Math challenge (which is part of a provincial campaign, “Put Food In The Budget“) is to highlight the inadequacies of social assistance in Ontario, especially related to food.
Food is a flexible budget item — one that isn’t fixed each month, and where decisions to eat cheaper food, or even skip meals, are often made. This is why places like food banks opened up in the 70s and 80s. But here the thing: they weren’t supposed last. They were created as a temporary measure in the midst of a recession. 30 years later, there are hundreds across Canada, and in Ontario, they serve up to 374,000 people each month (40% of whom are children)!
This, in my mind and the minds of the thousands who have taken part in this challenge, has to change.
Starting on Monday, as part of this challenge, 100 youth in Toronto are living for a week off of a typical food bank hamper (which is meant to provide 3 days worth of food – but many end up stretching it out for a week out of necessity), to raise awareness about these issues and pressure the Ontario government to raise social assistance rates by $100.
So along with posts about spinning wool, quilting and knitting up a storm, I’ll be sharing my thoughts here.
And for those who are curious what a single person’s food bank hamper typically consists of, here’s the list:
- 2 boxes Kraft Dinner (or substitute extra rice if gluten-intolerant)
- 3 juice boxes
- 3 single-serving-size scoops dry rice
- 2 small cans soup
- box of dry cereal or 3 packages instant oatmeal
- any TWO of: 175 g tin of tuna, chicken or turkey; small jar peanut butter; 3 eggs
- 2 small cans of tinned vegetables, or 1 tin vegetables and 1 fruit
- 1 potato
- 1 onion
- 1 can plain beans or chickpeas, or 1 can pork and beans
- 3 granola bars or 3 fruit chews
- 1 quart milk
- 1 loaf bread (or substitute extra rice)