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.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Challenge Day 5 - Feb 14th (Final Day)

Day 5

Finally, a warm day! Up for the challenge

Task today:

“Your stove broke down and the landlord hasn't come around to fix it. We hope that you will find a way to make your meals today.”

Well, there goes the scrambled eggs. I could eat another piece of bread (toasted) with more peanut butter. Or I could have a tuna sandwich for breakfast. Hmm! Extra toast it is. Thankfully, I still have lunch left in fridge. Soup can be eaten hot or cold. Today, I don't need it to be hot to warm me up like the last few days. You sure need to be creative to solve problems.
So yesterday, I did not get the battery. I made a decision to not use up resources for 1 task. I needed to accept that we all get too busy and at the end of the day, we can't always do it. So today, I still have to walk to the closest store to purchase batteries but it is a much warmer day to go outside.

It's Valentine's Day today. I realized that I cannot make a big batch of cookies to gift to my family and friends. Although it is a minor celebration, I am sad to think about the pressure of holidays to put a strain on a budget for gifts. Time to reflect on the giver and not on a gift. They will forget soon forget the gift but not you. My husband is wanting to cheer me up and has offered to take me out for dinner. I had to turn down a restaurant dinner but am looking forward to spending the evening with him.

A person at work today mentioned that they had been not taking their medications because their spouse was ill and needed their medication more. Why are pharmacists not inquiring why patients are not getting prescriptions filled? I offered them a Trillium form which is income based. The biggest challenge for applicants is that the form requires information about last year's income tax filing. Because people are lower income, they sometimes do not file a tax return. This person, who is not my client, is not being helped by their healthcare providers. We could do a better job.

Home from work. Stove may not be fixed. Tuna sandwich and mushroom soup with vegetables (thawed out today) for supper. Enjoying individual pieces of fruit like frozen candy. Tomorrow, I will walk back into my life. I still will eat a similar breakfast, have soup still left for one more lunch then I can choose supper menu.

What I really miss eating are the nuts. I usually grab a handful daily. I did not purchase any in my budget because I was cautious to spend all my money on food. But if at the end of a food allowance I had a bit of money left, I think I would consider that treat. Also, my food was quite bland. Rather than buying spices, I chose flavoured tomatoes, salted broth base and vegetables with unique flavours to try to add to flavor. I ate food to keep me fueled well but not for the pleasure of taste or colour appeal. I did try lentils and am going to use more. I will check with the educators at Kenora Chiefs Advisory about the lentil cookbook they are using in communities. Apparently there is a recipe for cookies too. 😊

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Challenge Day 4 - Feb 13th

Enjoying my breakfast of toast, peanut butter and eggs. Lentil soup still at work for lunch. Supper TBA

Task today:

“The batteries for your smoke detector need to be replaced”

Of course, the discount stores would offer a great price but they are too far away to walk. For convenience, I will walk to the closest spot to pick up a new battery and pay a much greater price for for that time saver. Glad I have money in my pocket for that.

Forgot to get the battery. Maybe I can call the landlord to get battery replaced. Anyways this task is not getting done today. Failed because I was too busy helping others then wanting to get home hours after I leave work. I would never spend money to go back to town for this one item. I can probably get away with one night without this battery.

Finally 9 pm and supper. Spaghetti, sauce, frozen vegetables and fruit. Everyone has been taken care of and finally time for my care. I like my quick exercise routine requires a space approximately 3 x 10 ( i can do it in a hotel room) Jumping, stretching and strength core activities. No equipment, no cost and relaxation at end.

One more day to come

Challenge Day 3 - Feb 12th

Off to work after eating a very regular breakfast of 2 eggs, toast and peanut butter. Taking lentil soup for lunch and will eat it if I find time. I need to stop at a store for a few more items today.

Today's task:

“Your dietitian said your iron is low. Figure out how to increase it”

Low iron. What foods could I afford? Or do I need to buy a supplement. We, as healthcare providers, often ask our clients to make a change that could put a financial strain on their budget. The request is very vague and I will need to check for foods that are high in iron that I can afford to eat, taste good and provide sufficient iron.

So it looks like some of the food I have purchased has iron.. eggs, lentils. Although meat has a good source of iron, I may be limited in purchasing it due to cost; but I like sardines, salmon and tuna which could be in my basket and supply more iron. For the vegetarian, spinach and nuts (which I eat almost daily and have not purchased this week) could be alternatives.

Sometimes, clients don't want/like/desire to eat the food high in iron. So perhaps, I could get a bottle of iron from the pharmacy. The cost is approximately $6-10 for 100 tablets. It comes in various dosage forms with different amounts of elemental iron. We often want clients to take with orange juice (or other acidic food) which I do not plan to purchase as one of my food choices. Also, if iron deficiency requires me to take a supplement, a physician or NP could provide a prescription it at no cost to me.

I thought I would pick up some more food today after work. I ended up a one store for work related task and decided I was not going to get to the grocery store for fresh produce. Although I was able to get more carbohydrate (pasta) and protein ( canned tuna), I was not able to find affordable vegetables or fruit (canned or frozen). It is too cold outside to walk to another store and the groceries I already am carrying, arequite heavy. I will just have to eat the same fruit and vegetables for another day. One nice thing about frozen fruit is you can eat it more slowly from frozen and enjoy it as a nice snack before bed.

It is so cold outside tonight. How can anyone live overnight outside in this weather? Thanks for the shelters in Kenora but that is not the ideal. Lots of places are open during the day but not at night. I need to go home and pull out blankets, coats and other winter items that are not being used. I saw a post on Facebook that one organization needed towels so I will bring a few of those too.

Sleeping tonight in a warm bed and thankful for heat. Not hungry but starting to dislike the lack of choices to eat.

Challenge Day 2 - Feb 11th

"Television/video/gaming systems/phone/ ipad and all other electronic forms of entertainment disappeared from your world for the day."

This is a great day!. I like to unplug on Sunday. I planned to go outside and enjoy snowshoeing for an hour or two depending on how cold the temperature reaches. For me, using electronics is a necessity of my work, a way to communicate with other people who only want to communicate through technology and a tool to carry for a safety measure when I travel off-road.

I think about how isolating I would be if I had no way to communicate with my parents who live far away. With the use of online communication, I can speak with them weekly. The cost of a cellphone could be out of reach for many people, but I see many at the computers at the library, using emails to chat with people too far away to call. Where else can people use a computer for free to stay connected?

I will enjoy working on a puzzle that has been on the go for a few weeks. I am starting a new book. I read that many successful people read up to 60 books per year. I am going to try that. The books and puzzles, I get from the library, exchange with friends and occasionally buy on sale.

Today, l will prepare lunches and suppers for next 3 days. I was surprised I have only spent $20.00. I bought lentils, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, frozen fruits and vegetables, broth, canned tomatoes and eggs. I bought frozen produce because it is just as nutritious as fresh but is less likely to spoil.

So a whole day without electronics is a great way to reconnect with people who sit right in front of you. A conversation without the distraction.

Enjoyed a walk outside in warm layers but wonder how a person could live every day outside at this temperature. Where to go for shelter? A trip to the library, when it is open, could give me time to warm up, find some reading material, go on a computer and stay safe. Other programs are also only open weekdays but not weekends. Gathering places are important for social connection.

First Day of the Challenge - Feb 10th

Today is the first day of the challenge. I did start last night by purchasing groceries before I left Kenora.

I recognize that people living on Ontario Works would more likely need to live within walking or public transportation distance of all their required needs.
Because I live so far from town, I plan to do my shopping and other errands on days I am already going (workday). I have seen some of my clients use carpool to get into town.

Today's challenge:
"You strained your back. You cannot afford any painkillers or a hot water pack. How will you alleviate pain?"

How did you know I would wake up this morning with this exact problem!. Medication and heat are the last things I would use. My treatment plan requires no money. My usual treatment is to do gentle back stretches, walk, yoga, and find a tennis ball to apply pressure to the spot. Although many would assume heat, I know cold is better for initial back strain. Good thing there is lots of snow outside and I can fill a bag and wrap in towel and reduce inflammation.
Because I heat home with wood, I will only to be able to carry 1-2 logs as opposed to 5-6 at a time to stoke fire. If this had happened grocery shopping, I would have had to consider 2 trips or lighter groceries.

Made it through Saturday at home. Doing my regular house chores, I reflected on the tools that make my life easier. When I was first married, we had a small unfurnished apartment, we had to walk to the laundry mart, and we had to try to clean a carpet with a broom. Finding change to put into the washer and dryer, waiting at the laundry mart for the wash to be completed and carrying the basket home was a 1/2 day gone. Now I can multitask , getting fire wood, taking composting to garden, vacuuming and washing floors while clothes are getting clean.
As for my challenge, my back was strained all day. I moved carefully hauling wood for the week, vacuuming and any other bending/lifting activities. When I was finished, I did gentle yoga, body scan meditation and enjoyed reading. My back is still sore and will take a few days to improve but I require no medication to tolerate a bit of pain.

Sunday morning and enjoyed being able to sleep in late in a warm bed.