I purchased the food for my week on the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge. I used $33.55 of a $34.40 budget.
Ten early observations:
- In no way does this match the reality of people who live day after day, week after week, month after month, on low incomes. This is a controlled exercise and witness. Hopefully it will allow me to develop a deeper understanding of the realities faced by my brothers and sisters and of the privileges that I have.
- I have a safe place to live. access to a well-functioning refrigerator, freezer, and stove. I have more cooking utensils, pots, and pans that I know how to use.
- I do not have to worry about juggling my food expenses with other expenses.
- Shopping took far longer than usual. I paid much closer attention to price while trying to take nutritional data into account.
- I will eat essentially the same menu every day during the week. That is a function of my lack of imagination in the kitchen but also the reality of the costs. Food is cheaper in bulk. But when I spent $8.00 on ground turkey, I did not have funds to buy the turkey filet I considered. The ground turkey will make 7 meals.
- Looking at the nutritional value, I will consume more carbohydrates and fat than I usually do. In part, that is because I try to restrict carbs and fats. It is also the case, as I suspected, that less expensive foods have more fats and carbs.
- There will not be many fruits and vegetables. Several factors enter here. Cost. Where I shopped. I did not go to a farmers’ market. My preferences also played a role. Recognizing the environmental impact does have me wondering about reducing my consumption of meat. That is something I need to consider in the future.
- There will be no caffeine unless I find coffee in situations where people who use food stamps can also freely access the coffee. That has me wondering – we have coffee on at the office. Anyone who comes in is allowed to drink the coffee. But how likely are people who use food stamps able to get to our office. I have to work this through some more before Monday.
- Preparing for the challenge has reminded me of how much food and eating is involved in my work. I have already had to reschedule two meetings so they did not involve meals. That’s a luxury that many of my sisters and brothers do not have.
- There will be much to learn during this week. I hope I am wise enough and open enough to learn.
See you along the Trail.