Monday, September 29, 2008

The Food Stamp Challenge: Reflections


Well, I made it through the week and survived the Food Stamp Challenge. Interestingly, it was a very busy week and I don't know if that made it harder or easier - I was probably hungrier, but had actually had less time to think about food.

It was a little touch and go on Friday when I had an off-site staff meeting and afterwords everyone wanted to go Panera for lunch. I accompanied them and figured I would use my remaining $1.12 to buy a small soda. When I got to the front of the line during the lunch time rush and told the cashier that I only wanted a small soda, he looked at me quizzicially and just gave me a cup without charging me for it! Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

I finished the week with a handful of spaghetti, some sauce, three eggs and a little bit of lettuce - not much to build on for the next week. The biggest lesson that became even clearer to me is the difficulty of eating well while trying to eat cheaply. It's easy to understand why someone would purchase something like "Sunny-D" to drink rather than real juice: it costs about half as much, but has little nutritional value.

The same is true for bread. You can spend $2.29 for whole wheat, or 99 cents for a larger loaf of white bread with less nutritional value. Fruits and vegetables are a story unto themsleves. Wow! You would be lucky to have one or two pieces of fresh fruit a day -- well below what is suggested to be healthy.

I found the experience to be very rewarding, and eye-opening. It was also a great educational tool for my daughters. I am blessed that I don't have to live this way every week, but right now -- and, unfortunately, even when the economy is good -- there are far too many for whom this is how they live. In a nation as prosperous as ours, we can and must do more make sure no one goes hungry.

On a lighter note, there was great concern at the soccer fields on Saturday that the whole family was undertaking the Food Stamp Challenge, and many of the parents of my daughters teammates were offering to take my girls home so they could have a good meal!

1 comment:

Phil Booker said...

Well done... Much wisdom is found in eating cheap. Such therapy draws on many aspects of our personality and personal philosophy. I hope you can use this experience in your future career.