Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Day in the Life: Visiting the Food Bank

A week ago, I described one of the ways in which the food bank culture limits choice.

Almost two years ago, in a post on Challenging the Commonplace, I wondered how much thinner I could slice my bread. Since then, of course, bread prices have shot up even further, as have the prices of flour, yeast, molasses, honey and oil - all ingredients for making whole wheat bread in a bread-making machine.

I acquired one of those machines not long after writing that post, thanks to friend Daphne. And for almost a year I did make my own bread. Then those prices went up and up and up and I couldn't do that anymore either.

All of which is a roundabout way of telling you why I visited the food bank today. It was to get bread.

It was my third visit in as many months. Only to get bread, you understand, not to stop for a meal or to sign up for a hamper once a month. I don't do well in social situations and asking for help is a non-starter, so I would go in, get my bread, and quickly exit.

Each time I've been to the food bank, I couldn't help but notice the brightly-coloured food laid out on the table directly behind me, opposite the bread shelves; with plates and utensils alongside, inviting anyone who wanted to, to sit down and dig in.

So, yes, today I went to the food bank, to do my grab-bread-and-run errand.

But it was not quite run. It was more like a slow inch-by-inch exit with eyeballs glued in the opposite direction to that of my body.

Having exited, I headed off to Sears to pick up two camisoles I'd purchased on a gift card - thanks to the reward points I'd earned from having made wise use of my credit card. All the while I thought of those cold salad dishes at the food bank: wild rice mixed with tomato and what looked like currants, seeds and onion and a great bowl of mixed leafy greens. There was more, but those were the two dishes I'd had my eyes on.

Still thinking of the food, from Sears I went to the pet store to get some canned stuff for Kiltie, who needs a special diet. She eats better than the human, natch.

I returned home by way of the street that has the food bank. And walked into the building. Went directly to that table, grabbed a small plate and fork, put a scoop of wild rice mix and another of greens on the plate, sat down and ate.

Oh. My. Goodness. It felt like my damn veins were flowing like a spring river, the food was that good; and I hadn't realized how much I'd missed the different textures either.

We are fortunate in the Cowichan Valley. Over the past two years or so, our local community gardens have set aside a place for growing food for the food bank. That explains why the spreads at the no-longer-just-soup kitchen include fresh fruit and veggies over our long growing season. But how our food bank is managing it in the off-season I don't know. Regardless, this is one very grateful recipient.

Today was my first meal at the food bank. I may eat some more meals there.

Thank you to the people who run the Cowichan Valley Basket Society, including Dave the cook, and the driving force that is Betty Anne Devitt. Thank you to the grocers and the people of the Valley who make such nutritious food available.

1 comment:

Daphne Moldowin said...

I'm so glad to hear that the Food Bank is offering real food these days. The slop that passed for food a few years ago didn't look fit for a very hungry pig, let alone the humans who were frequenting the place. Too bad there isn't a kitchen in the Mill Bay area. Yet.