Nova Scotia

Food security one-week challenge 'went pretty badly' for Dal student

A Dalhousie student who dared to go a week eating only free food found on campus says she has a new appreciation for the problem of food security and what it's like to not know when the next meal will be.

Sabina Wex came up with the experiment while waiting in line for free food at Loaded Ladle

Sabina Wex decided to only eat free food on campus for a week to learn more about food insecurity. (Claudia Yuen)

A Dalhousie student who dared to go a week eating only free food found on campus says she has a new appreciation for the problem of food security and what it's like to not know when the next meal will be.

"I didn't think it was that crazy to try and do this," says Sabina Wex.

The seeds of the challenge came to her while standing in line at the Loaded Ladle, a campus-run non-profit that provides free food to students three times a week. 

Without visiting soup kitchens, she'd only allow herself to eat free food found on campus for a week. She called it the Free Food Diet. 

"It went pretty badly. It was not fun. I did not enjoy myself," Wex admitted to CBC's Mainstreet. 

"I was exhausted. Tired, hungry, unfocused the whole week. I just felt off the whole week because I just didn't have a regulated eating schedule, I didn't know when the next meal was necessarily coming in, even though I planned where to go everyday. Things changed as I went along. I had to go to class, things came up. Life happened and it got in the way of meal time, which is something I never thought about."

Was it worth it?

The toughest day was Tuesday, she says. She found herself being unproductive, despite deciding to attend every class and test.

"I realized this wasn't just me being lazy or distracted. I actually couldn't do it. I found it so hard to focus, to stay awake — even stay warm."

By Wednesday, she cracked. Wex says she ate at home that night because she hadn't planned well enough. She continued to pack small snacks for herself until the challenge was over. 

The anxiety of not knowing the time or place of her next meal was too great, she says.

Despite not completing the challenge the way she set out to, Wex says the experiment was still tough. 

"It was significantly worse than I could have imagined," said Wex.

"I thought, what would that actually mean to feel that food insecurity? To feel that poverty? To have to pretend that everything is OK. To do your work. Go to school and seem happy but have this grumbling stomach at all times." 

Above all things, she says she's learned an appreciation for food security she didn't have before. 

"I still feel like I'm on the diet," she said. "It's something that's made so aware about the state of food in this world." 

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