Day 5 Piggy

A more visceral, tummy-rumbling empathy

May 11, 2012 | | Blogs | Community | Hunger Awareness Week

Well, here we are. The week has passed and we’re still standing.

Last night brought us an illustration of something that must be all too common in food bank households. I was passing through the kitchen. There on the counter lay the last remnants of the little hunk of cheese we had for the week. It’s our big treat and we’ve been behaving like it was gold, savouring tiny pieces.

Without thinking, I popped the remainder into my mouth and it was gone.

Upon discovering this, Brandy was less than pleased. She expressed her displeasure verbally, then followed up with an email, waiting in my inbox this morning. Here’s what it said: “Jeff is a piggy. He ate all the cheese when he knew it was all we had left. $%!)head.”

A minor event, from which we will recover, but it made me think about how much tension there must be within families when there isn’t enough food, how easily a seemingly little thing like that can set off a Lord-of-the-Flies like devolution.

Today the Food Box Challenge participants met for a wrap-up lunch. It was all delicious, but I noticed that the thing I went for first wasn’t the cookies or the sandwiches. It was the raw vegetables. Even if my mind hasn’t been especially missing them, apparently my stomach was.

Also on the fresh and green front, my Food Box Challenge colleague Karen Hutchinson arrived with a gift for me: a baggie filled with freshly picked and washed dandelion leaves. I ate them. After my complaining earlier in the week that I wasn’t ready to go there, now I must also eat those words – dandelions are actually pretty good. (The secret, she tells me, is to pick from plants that have grown in the shade).

My main feeling at the end of this experience is guilt. Now I’ll go back to my wanton grazing, while 400,000 actual food bank clients in Ontario will face another week of the same, and another after that. Still, I do think my attitude has shifted. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought much about food before, other than how it tastes. As Brandy put it, we’ve both arrived at “a more visceral, tummy-rumbling empathy.”

The Food Box Challenge is all about raising awareness. Caledon Community Services has set a target of 5,000 visits to the daily blog all participants are posting on the CCS Food Box Challenge website. Please take a moment and give it a look.

About the Author More by Jeff Rollings

Jeff Rollings is a freelance writer living in Caledon.

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