Can I have a grande americano, ⅔ decaf?


Can I order a venti, no fat, no whip latte with ½ the vanilla and extra foam?


Oh and can my friend get a vente iced mocha with 1 shot, caramel sauce on top and bottom, no whip, light on the ice and 7 pumps peppermint syrup?


Got that?…..


Imagine one day you found yourself in the midst of crisis; job lay offs and now there’s no longer funds to cover monthly expenses of your nice suburban lifestyle.   Now the reality of not visiting the local Starbucks each morning has hit home.   A government program refers you to the food bank’s emergency hamper program, so you make your way over there for your first visit.


You approach the friendly volunteers noticing that there’s no menu….?   The volunteers start loading your hamper with all the items that have been donated.  “Wait, I can I get glutten free?”  “Umm…. do you have soy milk rather than cow’s milk?”  “Can I get low fat crackers?  I’m on a diet you know….”


The hamper meets you at the end of the conveyer belt and there’s no glutten free, soy, low fat nothing.   Just items that have been lovingly packaged by the volunteers based on what’s been donated by caring businesses and communities.


You get home having no clue what to do with a can of coconut milk and baked beans.   You wonder what you’ll do with that many crackers?   And where’s the chicken breast?


Welcome to the land of no choice.  Its a hard place for someone coming out of a consumer-minded culture.   Instead of custom-made drinks, you are now faced with a new reality: you get what you get and you don’t get upset (a wise 6 year old told me once)


Our “serve me” mentality doesn’t work when crisis hits.


This has been a reality I’ve noticed since spending “a week in their kitchen”.      My casual spending of $5 here and there for novelties like Starbucks is gone.  I can’t meet my friends for coffee.  I can’t take my kids to the local play place with coffee and muffins for the moms to buy.   I bring my lunch to the mall and avoid the luring smell of the food court.  My freedom to choose is put on hold.


But what I can choose is thankfulness.  Whatever happened to that virtue?   What a gift it is for my consumer-heart to be starving.


It has opened my eyes to see how blessed I am to have the power to choose what I eat.  How I take that for granted.   Having the choice of healthy food taken away has made me realize I should take that choice more seriously.   I need to be thankful I have enough money to buy veggies and eat them.


It has also allowed me to see where needs can be met.  If someone I know is struggling, instead of just leaving them to the food bank, I can help them.   I can share my groceries so they can be sure to have healthy lunches for their kids.   I can take them out for a play date and buy them a coffee.


But that can only happen if I know my neighbour….


* our journey of living off a food hamper was done in partnership with the Calgary Food Bank.   We did this along with a few other families who blogged about their journey as well.  You can find all those blogs at