Comment 36139

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2009 at 01:04:28

I wish you could see that I am not a rich person. I am working with a budget of less than that report recommends. And I am eating nutritious meals, shopping at No Frills and the farmer's market, buying food without a car, only what I can carry a few times a week.

A report that relies on rich people to calculate what a poor person's budget should be is somewhat methodologically flawed. Theoretically it may all work, but it has the same problems as the Illinois "experience" -- not being able to buy lunch is not impoverishment. Packing a lunch is not deprivation. Eating oatmeal is not a punishment.

So how about talking to someone like me who HAS been in that boat and see what they need to get nutritious meals... because nutritious meals do not consist of frozen pizza, "Lean Cuisine" and the neighbourhood KFC.

By the way... today I was in pacemaker follow-up and echocardiography, tomorrow I'm observing a couple ablations... I'm finishing a cardiac testing program and have undergone substantial training as a health professional, although I'm not a medical doctor.

Quite separate from that, I've taught people, including those in my neighbourhood and building, how to cook nutritious meals on a budget. (And next week I'm having some pre-teen girls over to bake sugar cookies, which aren't nutritious, but are a pretty inexpensive holiday treat - and something they can learn how to make.)

More money is not the only part of the equation. Part is having the KNOWLEDGE of what foods are nutritious and how to prepare them. For example, a lot of people don't know how to bring home a bag of $4 potatoes and 79c onions, then turn them into potato soup, baked potatoes with skin, oven-fries, mashed potatoes and potato pancakes... but that's easily taught, even if they can't read a recipe. We need more of that.

And that's why the organizations I'm involved with run weekly financial groups for people -- led by local lifelong Hamilton residents who have successfully faced the same challenges. They're not rich, but they're now able to start paying off their debts and live with some measure of financial stability. Because it's not just "more money" that's needed - it's more skills and an awareness that one's decisions with money can improve their life. It's a mystery to many people. It needs to be demystified.

Now please, can you leave this red herring alone, cease attacking me personally, and return to the discussion about downtown improvement? Poor people matter. I know. They have dignity, and should be given as much back as possible, I know. But empowerment consists of skills and enabling them to take control of their lives, not another $20 for pizza.

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