Hunger Action Month

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Sunday's newspaper, there was a menu that took into consideration rising food costs. The goal was to provide readers with a menu that would make it possible to provide an entire meal for 4 people for just $25. I read through with interest - and remembered that one week from today I start the "$25 challenge." $25 is the average weekly benefit that an individual on food stamps receives in the state of Illinois. In other words, your $25 needs to last a week - as in 7 days, 3 meals a day -- 21 meals.

If you are reading this, you already know there is a group of us representing the eight food banks across the state that will attempt the challenge. Next Sunday, we'll each take $25 and go shopping. And rather than buying food for a lovely, albeit thrifty, meal for 4, we will attempt to buy enough food to last for an entire week. The whole wheat linguini, olive oil and fresh green peppers from the menu in the newspaper are all out of the question - as are many of the things I consume, starting with the cup of French roast coffee that I always begin my morning with. Needless to say it will be tough - maybe even impossible. Which is, of course, part of the point. How on earth can $25 spread across 21 meals??? The answer is that is doesn't - which helps to explain why so many of the food pantries across our country are seeing record numbers of visitors.

In the week ahead, along with my colleagues, I will begin plotting - sharing advice on just how we can stretch 21 meals out of $25 dollars. Along the way, we hope you will join us as we think about what it means to be hungry in America.

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