I know it’s been a while since I blogged, and I apologize for that. Work has been a whirlwind, blah blah blah.
But I’m restarting the blog because I’m taking the FOOD STAMP CHALLENGE, in which people attempt to live on $21 worth of food – the average amount a recipient of food stamps receives.
Given that this is Lent and the season of sacrifice, I thought I’d combine this with Operation Rice Bowl and try to live cheaply foodwise and then put the savings toward hunger relief efforts.
I’m starting this out with three rules:
1. I can use the seasonings I have around the house to flavor my foods. Practically, that means I don’t have to waste the whole first week’s budget on spices, but it also reflects the fact that more and more people are going on food stamps – people who a few months ago had kitchens much like mine, and never expected to be moving into poverty.
2. If someone offers me free food, I’m going to take it. Snacks around the office, appetizers at receptions, and the birthday cake I’ll be eating this weekend when I go to visit my niece. This mirrors reality – if a person is hungry, and someone offers that person some food, she’ll eat it.
3. If I get a migraine, I can eat what I need to make that migraine feel better. (Usually, some salty food like a 80-cent bag of potato chips can help.)
I went shopping last night to prepare for the food stamp challenge, and here’s what I purchased. My Safeway club card savings are in parentheses:
1 can of pineapple – $1. 25 (.44)
1 eggplant – $1.01 (.49)
Italian parsley – $1.29
Bag of frozen corn – $2.00 (1.89)
Bag of mustard greens – $2.19
Whole wheat linguine – $1.00
Quaker Quick Oats – $2.50 (2.75)
Dried Navy beans – .99 (.20)
Coffee – $3.69
Hazelnut creamer – $1.50 (1.05)
My total? $18.91. However, my Safeway was out of boxed tofu. I have a box at home, and I’m charging myself $1.50 for it (a reasonable price), bringing my total to $20.41 59 cents are left over from the week.
Now, I know the one thing that might raise eyebrows is the purchase of coffee, which took up about 25% of my weekly food budget. And I’m sure some people would say – as they do about food stamp recipients – “Why are you spending money on coffee, and not on more fruits and vegetables?”
The first answer is obvious. I get cranky easily, and for the sanity of those around me, I don’t think I should be both hungry and under-caffeinated this week.
And for the second answer, I have to ask – how many of you would care if I drank too much coffee and ate too few vegetables if I wasn’t “on food stamps”? There’s many attempts to apply moral standards and shaming on food stamp purchases, including attempts to move away from subsidization of so-called unhealthy foods. But frankly, the whole system is geared toward setting people up for an unhealthy diet in the first place. It’s better for us to look at how to encourage and expand options for fresh fruit and vegetable purchases, rather than attempt to punish the poor for engaging in behavior that most of us would be loath to give up, like coffee and soda.
All right. I’m off to take a vitamin pill now to ensure that I don’t get scurvy. I’ll report back later today on what exactly I ate.