Peel Poverty Diet

This week, the Blackboard Special is back but with a different spin: we’re taking a look at what a #PeelPovertyDiet looks like for 48 hours.

The United Way of Peel Region challenged Peel residents to attempt “eating on the edge”, where participants would spend 48 hours simulating a Peel Poverty Diet. The diet would involve consuming only the food items that a food bank visitor would receive.

The challenge started on the morning of October 14 and ended on the 16, which was also World Food Day across Canada.

For UTM, the challenge was accepted by a team called UTMSU x UTMAC.

“I came to UTM as an adult after getting my OSSD while on Ontario Works. The payments barely covered rent and did not cover all of my expenses,” says Jenny Ward, a third-year palaeontology student who chose to participate in the challenge. “So I was using the food bank for a solid two years.

“I’m not doing this to see what it would be like to live in poverty, because I already have. I am doing this because it really needs more attention. Everyone talks about middle class and the upper one percent and the gaps between the two, but no one wants to talk about how poverty really is everywhere is Canada… and goes unnoticed.

“The hardest part of the diet is medications—they have certain requirements,” says Ward. “[For example, they have to] be eaten with a full meal, which just isn’t possible with the items on the list. So I feel really bad for the people who get this feeling of gut-rot on a daily basis. I can handle it for two days.”


Peel Poverty Diet

  • 1 juice box (250 ml) or small container of milk (250 ml)
  • 1 small can of soup (10 oz/284 ml)
  • 1 package of instant oatmeal (43 g)
  • 1 of the following sources of protein: 175 g tin of tuna or 175 g tin of chicken or 1 egg or 3 tbsp of peanut butter
  • 1 small tin of fruit or vegetable (8 oz)
  • 1 small potato or 1 small onion
  • 1 granola bar
  • You may also choose 5 non-food pantry items (i.e. coffee, tea, salt, pepper, seasoning, vinegar, honey, flour, sugar, oil) to use in addition to the above items
Day One

Breakfast: Coffee with sugar.


Dinner: Half a can of tuna (drained and plain).

Snack before bed: A plain crunchy granola bar.


Day Two

Breakfast: Coffee with sugar.


Dinner: 1 small can of soup. 1 plain baked potato.

Snack before bed: 1 small tin of mixed fruit.

Note: Ward mentions that if she did feel too hungry, she would resort to eating the final items left available to her: a package of instant oatmeal and a cup of tea.

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