I cheated. I didn’t cheat a lot but I wonder if cheating a little bit on the Welfare Food Challenge is like being kind of pregnant. I am back on rice and beans. In fact, I have half a jar of rice and beans sitting in front of me that I am trying to get excited about and eat.
On Friday I travelled to Saltspring Island to visit a friend who had recently had a baby. It was my first time meeting the baby and I rarely get to visit the mother. I have been looking forward to this trip for months.
My main worry leading up to the trip was: will I be able to focus enough to make this visit memorable. I have been finding that the lack of food is really impacting my ability to concentrate and be present in the moment.
I decided to accept supper as it was offered. It was delicious. There were vegetables, multiple kinds of vegetables, present in the meal. All my partner, Earyn, and I could afford on our $42 budget for vegetables was a pumpkin, frozen spinach and canned tomatoes. I am really tired of pumpkin. The diversity of flavours present in the meal was such a treat. I immediately felt better. My mood improved and I was able to be an active participant in the conversation.
I was shocked by the immediacy of the change. I have found that participating in this challenge has made me feel the physicality of the research that I already cite on a daily basis.
In particular I am thinking about the determinants of health. Exactly what determines whether or not we will be healthy and what our outcomes will be if we experience illness? The number-one determinant of health, the single largest indicator, is income. Family income plays a significant role in influencing child development. In fact, 80% of the 27 factors identified as having an impact on child development improve as family income increases, according to Canadian researchers.
I am always embarrassed when I have to cite this research to families living in poverty. It seems so obvious and I feel like I am telling people information that they already know. When we provide people with the resources to make choices they make choices that are good for themselves and for their families.
If we have the evidence and know the facts what is stopping us from raising the rates?