Hunger Action Month

Friday, September 26, 2008

We are out of milk.

My family of 4 decided to take on the challenge this week. With my background as the youngest of 7 children with a single parent for a portion of my life and starting out our marriage in a bitter financial state, I though we would be very resourceful with the challenge. Having the four of us to pool our funds together made the challenge much easier on us than a single person with only $25 - I'm not sure even the most clever economist can figure that out.

We all worked together to plan our menu (a lot of carbs, leftovers, and pb&j), collect coupons, and find the best sales. We between 2 coupons we had, a brand deal, and a store discount we actually got 6 boxes of cereal for free! However, at the store, when we had to stay away from our organic, whole grain, carbonated fruit juice all natural soda, and anything at all convenient the challenge began to be less of game and sunk in for real. We were terrified as our sub-total climbed and we still had meat, dairy, and produce on the list.

As the week has progressed, I feel an overwhelming sense of failure and guilt for not providing for my family. I cannot help but to think of the families who face this every week.
Now we are out of milk and fresh fruit. We have 6 boxes of cereal to eat, but no milk...


bingham37 said...

Thank you for participating in this fair and important challenge! What you are doing is shedding light on a problem that so many people struggle with... silently and often for years if not their whole lives.

You're an inspiration to me because if someone who genuinely lives in abundance chooses to put themselves in the shoes of those who are in pain... there's hope for this civilization yet.

I just stumbled across this challenge today but I'm going to try it next week on my own.

And to those who say this challenge goes too far... they need to deal with their fears better and try to inspire others instead of trying so hard to drag others down.

Since I'm a vegetarian I used to get that kind of attitude all the time from insecure people who are intimidated by my taking positive action to make a better world.

People who work to improve the world around them are bound to make some (scared of change) people uncomfortable... you just have to ignore those negative messages and keep on doing what you believe in. Hopefully, eventually, they'll catch up!

Thank you again for your good work!

the opoponax said...

I also just stumbled on this challenge, right at the end of the week. I've read the whole blog so far, and I have to say that it's very enlightening. My first thought, hearing about this, was to say, "Oh, sure, no problem. How can it even be a challenge?"

Well, that's easy to say when you have a CSA subscription of fresh vegetables (at about $15 a week for enough veggies to feed a family of 4 which is twice what my roommate and I need), my windowsill herb garden, and a pantry fully stocked with bulk goodies and seasonings. I grocery shop for only a few items a week, and aside from the occasional megasplurge it never comes to more than $20 or so for two people.

Then I realized something else. That CSA cost $300 up front at the beginning of the year. The olive oil, basmati rice, parmesan cheese and other bulk staples get refreshed a couple times a year, which makes them much cheaper than small quantities, but it costs $200 easy to fully stock the pantry.

Oh, and another thing. I'm lucky to have a fully functional kitchen full of high quality tools and appliances, which weren't cheap. I'm also lucky to know how to use it all, which means I can turn a couple pounds of tomatoes into the best sauce you ever tasted inside of half an hour (Ragu? What would I want with that junk?).

And there's more. Because I have a stable office job and no kids underfoot, I have the time to cook a big dish from scratch and save leftovers, to "put up" fresh foods from my CSA vegetables, and to take a pile of dirt-encrusted veggies and make them into an appetizing dish without needing to buy convenience foods like deboned and skinned chicken breasts, containers of diced onions and minced garlic, bottled salad dressing, and all that stuff which really adds up.

Let's not even talk about dietary restrictions and able-ism issues!

The final conclusion? It might be easy for me, a middle class single young (and healthy!) woman with good kitchen skills and plenty of free time to eat on less than $25 a week. But it's probably not easy for just anyone, and it's got to be especially hard for overworked, underpaid people with families in substandard housing.

Anonymous said...

Mix half powdered milk solution with half fresh milk. Double the milk for very little outlay and minimal compromised flavor -- especially when it's just for cereal.

Regarding the previous reply about CSA... Several CSAs will allow some subscriptions to be paid with a payment plan. Some even have sliding payment scales where you can exchange working on the farm in exchange for a reduced price for the subscription. Additionally, CSAs typically only deliver part of the year, so a family could save up during the part of the year when the CSA is not active to make the sizable up-front payment.