A Walk in Other’s Shoes is returning to this year’s Week of Action Against Poverty. This challenge is being undertaken by individuals in the community who have interests within the health field. Participants have been asked to attempt to stay within a social assistance benefits’ budget. A single person on Ontario Works would receive $337 monthly for all of their personal needs and $384 for all of their shelter costs. Because participants cannot replicate the housing conditions realistically, shelter costs are not included within this challenge. For the five day challenge, participants will have $11 daily to cover all food and drink, entertainment, some personal supplies and transportation costs. Each day, every participant will be given a challenge card which will reveal an unexpected challenge to be completed before the end of the day.

A Walk in Other’s Shoes is not a competitive challenge. It is a challenge that raises awareness of the hurdles that people living on social assistance face daily. As we within our community develop our own understanding, we can begin to reduce the barriers that they encounter and ultimately increase opportunities for increased prosperity for all. The challenge takes place February 10th-14th, 2018.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Day 1

Here we go!  My initial thought, “What have I gotten myself into?!”.  No backing out now.  People live this reality and they can’t back out.

My second thought, "I am not a blogger" ... again, here we go!

Last night I did most of my grocery shopping for the next 5 days.  See a pic of my haul below.  I hit up Dollarama and No Frills and spent $29.17 total, leaving me $25.83 for the next 5 days.  Being a Registered Dietitian, the grocery shopping was big for me, I truly had to think about each and every item I picked up and that is reality for some of the clients I see.  The challenge started as soon as I got to the store … I forgot my list … nope, not going back to get it, no car.  Shopping took me twice as long as it usually would.  I went from Dollarama to No Frills and back again.  I tested out some of the recommendations I make to clients:

  • Go for frozen vegetables ($2.27 for a bag that MAY get me through the next five days if I ration it)
  • Look high and low on the shelves for store brands (that one worked but I did need to ask a taller customer to reach two items for me)
  • Aim for whole wheat and compare prices carefully, if the price difference is small enough go for whole wheat (whole wheat pasta was more expensive - $1.27 at No Frills, white pasta at Dollarama - $1, I chose to spend the extra 27 cents to get the whole wheat, I can honestly say I see why some people wouldn’t)
  • Check the produce section for 50% items, stores will put items that are close to their expiry or not looking their greatest on sale for 50% off (I purchased bananas that were bagged and marked 50% off, 2.5 lbs of banana at 0.77/lb would have been almost $2, I paid less than $1 for the 5 bananas … will let you know how they are once I open my first one).
  • Aim for no salt added canned foods (my no salt added chickpeas were the same price as the salt containing chickpeas)

In preparation for my shop (and the rest of these 5 days) I did a little of bit research.  The Northwestern Health Unit has a great page on Community Food Programs:

This led me to chatting with the Minto Resource Centre.  They’ve got some amazing resources for families in the community.  What I learned:
  • If you have a family you are pretty much eligible
  • Open Tuesday-Friday
  • Unbelievable number of programs - Baking in Bag, Hot Lunches, WoMan’s Kitchen (not restricted to women only), there is a small store where you can purchase some basics for a very minimal cost (see picture below), a plentiful stash of donated items families can access at any time they are in need, Breakfast coupon program which provides a coupon for milk, bread & eggs for $2 … and the list goes on ...

Check out their calendar and a poster regarding some of the amazing stuff they offer:

Like I said … Here we go!  … Off to the rest of Day 1.

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