Hunger Action Month

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Leftovers are gone

I must admit that I missed two days of following the $25 Challenge due to business commitments. WOW! Was I glad that I had those activities scheduled because they provided me some variety in my otherwise bland and constant diet of carbohydrates and limited food choices.

To compensate for the days that I missed, I extented my participation in the Challenge until the food I had purchased was consumed. I ate the last of my chicken and pasta last night...and, now I will not have "Chicken Tonight" as my dinner time theme or menu. I could rehash the meals I had during the Challenge, but that part of doing the Challenge is of little importance other than the lessons the menu taught me, which included recognizing how easily one can become trapped into eating foods that are low in nutrition value, allowing yourself to eat more calories to supply the energy you need rather than eating foods that would produce that same energy with less calories, and most of all realizing how fragile your existence is when you have a fixed income in the world of constantly rising prices.

The final leftover from my Challenge is my commitment to work harder than ever to bring more nutritious food through the Food Bank system to those in need and to constantly work to get benefit levels increased.

If you read any of these blogs and have a question about any of the collective statements...try the Challenge for yourself and you will understand what motivated the words.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Challenge for Sure!

Well, my week didn't change much in terms of eating on my alloted $25 worth of groceries. While I enjoyed the meals provided at my meetings and dinner events throughout the week, my awareness was most certainly elevated to a new level. We certainly take our access to groceries for granted. At each meal this week, I was aware that more and more people would be struggling to make ends meet and keep food on the table, much less healthy, fresh food.

I'm grateful for this experience and will be ever mindful of how paltry our safety net benefits are.

Kathy Ryg

"It's Over"

The challenge officially ended yesterday, Sept. 28. Thanks for the eye-opener.

But, before I bring more awareness to the issue of whether or not $25 per week is enough food for one person who is on government assistance in Illinois, I will put a fork full of pancakes in my mouth for breakfast. I will have a hearty lunch -- maybe.

For dinner, well, just read my last post. I detailed what I would be looking forward to.

I can't wait!!!

Thanks again for the opportunity.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Final Countdown!!!"

I have absolutely no idea how I [barely] pulled it off.

I knew I could do it, however, it's not something that I would want to practice. I am very thankful that I'm fortunate enough to not have to survive on $25 per week on food. It's a great saver, however, it's just not for me.

Taking this challenge reminded me -- not that I needed one -- how fortunate I am to be able to afford what I have and can provide for my family.

There are too many scratching and surviving on less than $25 per week for food.

I was born and raised in Chicago, but foodwise, I was raised on southern cooking. My maternal grandmother is from Georgia and I have enjoyed southern cooking all my life. She taught me my culinary skills and my children are being raised on southern cooking.

With that said, I can't wait until tomorrow so I can enjoy some greens, sweet potatoes with brown sugar, turkey and dressing, with gravy, corn muffins, peach cobbler and iced tea. I will pass up my usual Dr Pepper for some Georgia-style sweet tea.

Oh, I did lose one pound. After my soul food dinner tomorrow, it will be back.

Happy eating!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From "Start" to "Almost Done"

Last Sunday I took my $25 and found the store that I knew would give me the most for my money...Aldi's.

I have a family of four and thought I would make sure that $25 of food would do for the entire family of four for the week. I planned it out so that it COULD work, if we were extremely disciplined.

I bought a whole chicken, a loaf of bread, a bag of salad, a box of rice, a bag of egg noodles, a gallon of milk, a box of grapes, a 24-pack of bottled water, a box of deli turkey for sandwiches, a bag of cheese and a 30-count package of eggs...all for $24.88.

The chicken would be baked and portions would be used one day in homemade chicken noodle soup and one day in fajitas.

My husband and I rarely eat breakfast and sometimes if we don't get a chance to eat lunch, because we are so busy in the field, we will just eat dinner.

Yeah, no breakfast and sporadic lunches...

Considering all of that, I said that although it's supposed to be $25 per person, my family of four could do it with just $25.

Boy, I am starving and my husband said to count him out after day one. And, my hungry-jack girls (ages 9 and 5) began to wonder why they were getting less snacks between meals than before.

I didn't have the heart to tell them that I included them in mommy's food challenge. So, I let them off the hook about four days into the challenge.

So now it's just me...and...I'm glad the end is very near.

It has saved me about $30 this week from eating lunch , but I need to get on a scale to see if the little weight I have is diminishing.

Until tomorrow...the last day of the challenge.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Well I'm gearing up for another dinner of ham & beans. It got me through the week and on budget. So what did I learn by going through this exercise?

It's hard to stay upbeat and on top of your game when your hungry. When you don't have the money to grab a snack (whether it's a candy bar, a piece of fruit or something else) it's hard to keep focused on the job at hand. Your mind and stomach continually wander back to wanting something to eat.

There is food all around you, all the time, but you can't eat it. There are fast food places on every corner, advertising on the radio, coworkers snacking at work. It seems everyone else has more than enough and you're on the outside looking in.

Forget nutrition. When shopping the only thing that matters is price. I didn't look at any of the labels or ingredients, cheaper is better. I spent my last dollar on cheddar cheese gold fish crackers. I wanted to have something that would fill me up - and crackers hit the spot (for twenty minutes) and only cost 95 cents.

The most important thing I learned is how difficult it would be for a parent to feed a child on food stamps. It's just not possible to provide a healthy diet. And, if nothing else, that's something every child deserves.

Frank Finnegan

I long for a slice of Chicago-style pizza...

My meals have been fairly consistent during the day this week...granola bar for breakfast and two hard-boiled eggs for lunch. My dinners have varied from pasta to chicken nuggets. However, I have tried to stay as true to the Challenge as possible. Whereas, many in the Challenge have taken hand-outs, I have been declining anything offered. I do not fault those who are taking the hand-outs. In fact, I had a great conversation with Senator Pamela Althoff yesterday about how people do things to get by. Those faced with this Challenge on a daily basis will do whatever it takes to have a meal. On the other hand, there are some out there who may be too ashamed or do not want to seem like they need the food out of being prideful. I am trying my best, but have a feeling I will fail by the end of the week.

Nearing the end of Day 4, I hopped on the train to commute home. My usual procedure is to sit down, put on some mellow instrumental music (Jazz, classical, etc.), and then start reading whatever book I have in my bag. I tried and failed. I have lost a lot of concentration and patience due to the Challenge. I have become extremely agitated for no decent reason. Last night when I came home, my girlfriend asked me what I would like for dinner and said I wanted something I bought off my list. She said fine, but proceeded to fancy up the dinner by adding some things to it. My tone came off negative as I told her I could not have the fancied dinner because of what she was adding was not within my $25. I'm not sure if I was just grumpy because I hadn't eaten much, but I did not like it. After I ate, I was cheerful again. It's a weird conundrum.

When I rode the bus this morning to get to my train, I looked at those sitting around me. How many of them are being challenged every day? How many of them receive assistance from organizations like my food bank? How many of them have trouble making it through the day with a stomach that won't stop making noise?

For their sake, I hope none of them.