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Food Stamp Challenge

What challenges would you face if you only had $31.50 to spend on food and beverages for the week?

  • manager

The 'proof is the pudding', but seen as pudding has been off the table for some time, here are some receipts (I have highlighted the items bought for me, and specifically for me to consume during the challenge week):


Receipt the first: total expenditure - $20.10


Receipt the second: total expenditure - $2.27


Receipt the third: total expenditure - $1.49


Stuff I already had: estimated expenditure - $5.50


Total= $29.36


So far so good, but this figure does not include many incidentals such as butter, spices, and seasonings.


Wait, what’s this?!

Uh oh. I forgot my lunch for work that day.


…double uh oh:

I took my boy for an early evening walk and he got ‘really thirsty’. I was thirsty too.


Both of these items were on the no-no list, and just those two items brought my total expenditure up to $38.42. I was also gifted a coffee from Starbucks during the week.


Despite planning meals more thoroughly than I usually would, buying items I could use in multiple dishes, spending more time cooking, and drinking nothing but water, I failed to stick to $31.50.


This is a very challenging budget simply for subsistence, not to mention the ways in which a social or family life complicate eating and drinking rituals.


Lifestyle often gets in the way. I was at work, and had forgotten my lunch, but it was going to be a long day and I was already hungry. I was out for a walk with a thirsty toddler, and it’s hard to resist the odd temptation.


Could I live off $31.50? Right now, the answer is no.


Recipe pics and details next time.


Tom

  • manager

Some ground rules for my SNAP Challenge this week, which started Sunday (hey, it’s not too late to try it yourself, we will be blogging through the end of October)…Here’s what I have been eating (the things you can get on food stamps):


- Breads and cereals

- Fruits and vegetables

- Dairy products

- Meats, fish, poultry and eggs

- Other food items that are not prepared hot foods


Here’s the no-no list:


- Food in restaurants

- Prepared hot foods

- Food that will be eaten in the store

- Household supplies

- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco


Many people see poverty as nothing more than a choice or a result of poor personal decisions. Choice plays a part, but so too do luck and broader social conditions.


How else can you explain the massive 45% increase in food stamp program enrollment in 2009? If it’s all about bad choices, ‘stupid’ must be catching like the flu.


At the food bank, we see the whole person and seek to help individuals in making their choices, and the food stamp program plays a crucial role in dealing with some of the societal baggage.


Here are a few more bullet points:

- SNAP reduces the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent each year.

- 1 in 7 Washingtonians relies on SNAP.

- Half of all people on SNAP are kids.

- Most Washingtonians in poverty are working or actively looking for work.

- 1 in 5 Washingtonians relies on their local food bank.


My recipes and shopping cart coming next week.

  • manager

When the idea of a food stamp challenge to mark Hunger Action Month was floated around the food bank, I quickly agreed to take it on. Rather too quickly.

I do fancy myself to be reasonably frugal, but have also been known to live by the generational 'treat yo'self' mantra that has reputedly seen home ownership eclipsed by avocado toast and artisanal coffee.

As soon as my boisterous bravado wore off I started to consider the scale of challenge that tens of millions of Americans face in keeping themselves and their loved ones from hunger... and started feeling a little anxious about the whole thing.

Having more limited resources makes better planning an essential and, while I've never been 'wealthy', I have been fortunate enough not to have plan for each and every meal, as many must and do.

My first challenge will be to figure out a week's worth of nutritious recipes within budget, but not quite yet eh.

I will post all of my shopping (receipts and all) and recipes for the last week in September (beginning Sunday 24th). Please get in touch with any suggestions!


If you plan to join me in marking Hunger Action Month by taking the Food Stamp Challenge please get in touch (manager@snoqualmievalleyfoodbank.org) and let me know. You can also record your own Challenge experience by starting a blog here.


Tom