Their fridges are all but empty and their waistlines are shrinking for a charitable social experiment that mimics the everyday reality of food-insecure Edmontonians.
“I’m hungry all the time,” Tracy Hyatt said, four days after digging into a severely slashed food budget.
Meet the Working Poor Diet, a challenge embarked upon by three young professionals attempting to bring awareness to the plight of locals with empty plates.
Until the end of the month, the trio will only consume food bought on their individual budgets of $80. No catered lunches, no free samples and no after-work drinks — nothing.
“We take those things for granted every day,” participant Jeff Gonek said.
For the second year in a row, the group is attempting to fill up on foods recommended the Canada Food Guide.
“It’s possible to live, but not totally by the guide,” Hyatt said. “I can buy a bottle of Pepsi for $1, but a carton of milk is $4.”
They’ve based their budgets on earnings gained from a full-time job at Alberta minimum wage, deducting average expenses like rent, utilities, transportation and leisure.
Common, inexpensive ingredients include discounted rice, beans and produce.
Preparation, coupon clipping and menu planning has roughly quadrupled their time spent on food, a reality that Edmonton’s Food Bank spokeswoman Tamisan Bencz-Knight says is lived daily by locals.
“It’s a good representation,” she said.
“The difference for these guys is that they’re done at the end of the month.”
The charity is taking donations as part of the initiative.
Last year, challengers raised $3,000 for Edmonton’s Food Bank. This year’s goal is set at $5,000.
“It’s such a wealthy province. There are so many people here who have,” Hyatt said. “I never thought of the ‘have-nots’ before this.”