So this week of The Hunger Challenge is to live on a food stamp budget for the week. For a family of four, a food stamp budget is $120.68 for the week. We have trouble figuring out our monthly food budget because we buy all of our meat and poultry in bulk (from the farm!) and much of the rest of our foods in bulk too. So it’s difficult to come up with a number that we spend every month. We track our food dollars, but do so more on an annual basis than a monthly basis.

In the video at service this week, the family that was interviewed talked about buying a whole chicken for $4 at Aldi among other things. I cringed at that comment. I wonder what was done to that chicken in order to be able to sell it for FOUR dollars. While I commend this family and others for paying more attention to their food budgets in a move of solidarity and compassion with people that have to live on food stamp budgets all year long, I hope that people that participate don’t only come away with the knowledge that they can find cheap food if they seek it out. People in poverty, as I’ve mentioned, don’t have as many choices as the rest of us. I hope and pray that we come away as a community from this week in hopes of working to give people in poverty more and better choices when it comes to their food:

  • Just because you live in poverty, you shouldn’t only be able to afford government-subsidized junk food.
  • People on food stamps should be encouraged to vote with their food dollars too – many farmer’s markets accept SNAP benefits.
  • As a community of Christ followers, we should be lobbying for a program like this one in Michigan, which doubles food stamp dollars spent at local farmer’s markets because keeping our spending locally builds our communities in a myriad of ways, in addition to getting low income families eating better.
  • I’m praying that this week, Grace people get creative in how we can not only be more compassionate to people receiving food stamps, but how we can help make it easier for them to make more sustainable (both for their bodies and for our communities) food choices.
  • We should actually be spending MORE on our food. Food is our fuel. We are what we eat. And as a country, we’re sick and dying. If this project teaches us as a community anything, it should be that we should be more mindful of how we spend our food dollars.

So instead of living on a food stamp budget for the week, we’re going to only eat from our freezer and pantry and meticulously track how much our meals cost. I’m hoping to show that eating locally, seasonally, and making sustainability of our food choices a priority is not as expensive as many may think.

Meatless Monday at house, so no meat allowed

Organic quinoa, cinnamon, fair trade banana with milk
$0.60 x 3 servings = $1.80

Scrambled eggs (6 local, free range) eggs with cheese, organic peppers, onions, and kale (peppers and kale were from our garden, so I’m counting those as freebies)
$0.82 x 3 servings = $2.45

Tortillas, organic and local butternut squash, organic onion, organic black beans, Neufchâtel cheese, Colby jack cheese, homemade salsa verde (from the garden) – recipe to come
Organic romaine salad
$5.95 total (enough for leftovers for everyone’s lunch on Tuesday)

2 organic apples $1.30
Almonds $0.80
Dark organic chocolate $0.50
Organic grapes $1

Total for three eaters*: $15

*Jasper should really count as an adult eater. You should see that kid – he’s a machine!