Home > Getting missional > A week in their kitchen: the art of empathy

A week in their kitchen: the art of empathy

First day on the hamper.   Here’s how it went.

Morning coffee…. black, because I don’t want to run out of milk for my son.  “That’s ok”, I thought.  “I used to drink it black, it’s better for me”.  At least that was the thought till I took my first sip.

Breakfast for  Ben: fruit loops (to his delight) instead of his usual waffle with maple syrup.   Sunny D instead of his 100%, no sugar added apple juice

Breakfast for me: two dessert yogurts instead of my usual: eggs.

Lunch for Ben?  a handful of vegetable thins

Lunch for me?  cheese and crackers

Lunch for Reub?  The whole carton of tapioca pudding and some crackers

Dinner: pasta with tomato sauce, mushrooms and cheese.


Funny, we’ve only completed day one and I feel like I can relate just that little bit more to people finding themselves in need of an emergency hamper.  How creative they have to be with their food preparation?  Today wasn’t too hard coming up with dinner.  Tomorrow will probably be ok to, but by the end of the week, coming up with dinners may take more innovative thinking.

Little things like the fact we only got 6 diapers in our hamper.  Even if we only used 1 diaper a day, that still wouldn’t last us for the whole 7 days.

Lunches were challenging.  I honestly couldn’t think what to eat for lunch.   My son struggled with the same until he decided on crackers.   Crackers.  For lunch.  Wow.  I can’t say I’ve ever fed him just crackers for lunch.  What a great mom I am, eh?

There were many moments today when the thought crossed my mind about digging into our own pantry and eating what I wanted, but I remembered one of my main motivations for doing this: I’m tired of living in ignorance to what is a reality for so many.  I’m tired of my cozy life, that doesn’t have time to look around to see needs in my own community.

How many families in Calgary have both parents working only to find that their expenses are too high to afford groceries?

How many families worry about how they will feed their kids?

How many families don’t have a clue what its like to worry about something as simple as: hunger?

Today was hunger awareness day.  I feel I’m more aware of the hunger issue in our city more than I was even a few days ago.   Thanks to places like the food bank, no Calgarian has to go hungry.  That is a gift.

Today, I volunteered for the food bank handing out paper bags at the C-train station.  I was shocked at the multitudes of ignorance of the hunger need in our city.    Granted, I had 5 seconds to say “It’s hunger awareness day”, then offer the paper bag.  Some probably only heard half my sentence in their focused effort to get  where they were going.  Sure, some may have heard nothing, only seeing this invasive paper bag in their face.  I took that into consideration as I was swore at, avoided, brushed off, laughed and scoffed at, some even taking the bag out of my hands to throw it on the ground or in the garbage right in front of my face.   But watching the wealth of people pass by with no concern bothered me.  I wanted to yell, “Don’t you see this could be YOU needing this?!”

……It bothered me because I was watching my reflection pass by me numerous times.  I was one of them till just recently.

Empathy: walking in someone else’s shoes, or spending a week in their kitchen, is a gift.   I’m calling this week: A fast for the less fortunate.  Every time I want to give in and reach for my preferred food or hit the local starbucks, I remember this is for them.   I will be their advocate.  I will support.  I will stand for them.

But the only way to have the passion to do so is to allow empathy to work through my every fibre…… and then allow empathy to turn to action.

Categories: Getting missional
  1. Wendy
    June 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Again, great post! I can only picture where you were handing out those lunches. We’ve done something similar to that & it’s very moving, and humbling! Way to go at not “cheating” on your hamper. This is a phenominal way to impact Ben as well!

  2. Charlene Z
    June 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you for giving us the chance to learn through your eyes! This is something we all need to know, see and be apart of change for our city. Blessings to you my friend! Blessings!!

  3. theresa
    June 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    when in college & my husband & i split i had to use cgy food hampers for a while. humbling to day the very least. i never told a soul. that s why i was curious to hear through your blog how it was going

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