So today marks day one of the Food Stamp Challenge I am participating in with Maryland Hunger Solutions. $30 comes from the data collected on the average amount of money allocated per person per week on food stamps.
I first learned of this challenge at a showing of A Place at the Table. http://www.magpictures.com/aplaceatthetable/. I was really inspired and wanted to try it for myself one week. When I registered for the hunger conference I saw that Maryland Hunger Solutions was hosting a week coming up so I immediately signed up. I will be blogging my way through the week from October 21st-27th and will be sharing my thoughts here. I kind of cheated already since I went “shopping” in my house. My mom had just gone grocery shopping and I’m not one to waste food, so I looked up prices for everything at safeway.com and chose my rations for the week based on what we had.
I ended up wasting a lot of my precious dollars on fresh produce. If I had been shopping in a store I may have gotten some frozen veggies instead. I started planning meals around protein items: beans, canned tuna, and peanut butter. I then chose some whole grains: brown rice and whole wheat flour (I figured this would be versatile to make into tortillas or whatever). Then I added some fruits and veggies: salad, apples, bananas, avocado, broccoli, and a sweet potato. Apples took up the bulk of my budget at $0.88 each. I realize this diet is vegetarian (or technically pescatarian because of the tuna). So it’s not totally realistic since most people prefer to spend their money on meat and not vegetables. I also think having kids would make it 100 times harder since they are not going to be satisfied with a sweet potato and salad for lunch.
I originally thought this would be easy, after all, I have been a “poor” college student before. But in crunching the numbers, I found it really hard and had to prioritize and make sacrifices in certain areas. I definitely had to choose between more vegetables or dairy. Notice, I did not have any money left for my luxury items of almond milk and greek yogurt. I only have to survive a week without it, but I can see where the malnutrition begins in situations like this. I understand now why someone would prefer to spend $2 on the dollar menu at McDonald’s instead of a $2 bag of salad. Because it’s more calorically dense and it fills you up more, thus leading to obesity and proving the point that someone can be overfed calorie wise but undernourished. I also have access to a car and the ability to browse ads and online for things on sale.
Some basic rules:
- Only eat food you purchase for the Challenge, and if you eat a meal out, that must come out of your $30.
- Don’t eat other food already in your home (exceptions: spices and condiments).
- Don’t accept food at meetings or events (exception: water).
I slept in today and went for a 10 mile run, which also doesn’t mimic the lifestyle of someone working 2 jobs, 16 hours a day and then taking two buses to a grocery store. My first meal was lunch. I had 1/2 an apple with peanut butter, 1/2 can tuna, 1/2 avocado on some home-made flatbread. On a small scale, I’m already starting to feel the pangs of hunger…
I tried to keep this one and all my future blog posts short and sweet. Please continue to read along the rest of the week!