Fill the Gap

Fill the Gap, Kingston Community Health Centres, Kingston, OntarioDo you think you could live for a week with a limited amount of food, not necessarily of your choosing, and without going out to eat at all?  In celebration of National Nutrition Month, Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) challenged 7 staff members to a week-long food challenge: Fill the Gap, to raise awareness for food programs in Kingston.  The 7 staff members volunteered to eat only the food found in:

  • Family (>2 people) receive 1 Large Good Food Box –  Family (<2people) receive 1 small Good Food Box
  • Selected pantry items i.e. coffee, tea, sugar, oil, etc.

The purpose of the experiment was to explore food and cooking; to live a day in the life of those in our community; to be aware of current and needed services in North Kingston such as Partners in Mission Food Bank, Good Food Box and KCHC Helping Hands Community Kitchens (coming this April); to decrease the stigma of emergency food services; to increase skill development for food, cooking and planning meals; to attract and develop new partnerships with local organizations and to have fun and celebrate food as a part of daily living – regardless of its source.

The participants have been keeping the community updated on their experiences over the course of the week.  It has been interesting to follow them on their journey as regular life still has to continue as they learn how to make a limited food supply work.  One participant had a cold to deal with as she worked to stick to the allotted foods, some noted how much more planning had to go into each meal in order to make the most of the items they had, and creativity hit a whole new level considering the very specific items they were given.  Suddenly grabbing a quick bite on the go, eating spontaneously or satisfying a craving were no longer options.

One team, House of Zen noted:

When you have to think about how to make your food last, you think about food even more. A simple snack is not so simple. Preparing meals become a task of planning –  how to make that ham last for a few days, how to add the most pizazz and taste to the meal, how to balance the meal with a variety of food, how can the meal make leftovers for tomorrow…

Suzanne, who was battling a cold all week commented on how much she wanted to not only eat to cure her cold, but also to eat the foods she craved most:

I have found the inability to make a choice confronting.  I would like to eat what I want when I want and because I have been sick I would have liked more juice and home made chicken soup!  Over the weekend, while lying on the couch I could not believe the number of food commercials on television!!!!!   Our eggs did not have an expiry date on them so we used our own eggs.   I am tracking our sodium intake because of the number of canned items. Thank goodness we had the five pantry items, however, we are missing our fresh vegetables.    I am looking forward to some creative recipe ideas.

Following these individuals as they rose to the challenge has been interesting and has made me think a lot about how I go about my day to day eating.  It has made me realize how lucky those of us who can afford to eat just about anything we want are and how much food waste goes on daily in my own home as well as how much money can be saved with a little creativity.    Kudos to all the participants.  I’m not sure how many of us could actually rise to this challenge.  What do you think?  Would you be able to go a week, heck, even a day, with such limitations?  No stop at Tim’s on the way to work, no quick slice at lunch time, and no late night search through the fridge.

Jordan wrapped the week up with this last post, something we could all take the time to think about:

Perhaps the best thing that came from this challenge for me was a realization that I could last 7 days without going to a restaurant or stopping at a coffee shop for a drink.  It sounds funny – like it would be the easiest thing in the world, but it wasn’t.  This challenge showed me how often I eat out and how much I missed the option.  I hope that the knowledge of how much money I saved on food this week outlasts my craving for a trip to drive-thru and inspires me to spend more time in the kitchen or even the garden.

Thanks to istorija for today’s photo.

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