November is one of my favorite months–mostly, for the delicious meal I engorge myself with on the 24th (and for a few days after that!). But, I also enjoy it because it reminds us to be truly thankful for some of the things we”re very privileged to have in our lives.
Recently I found out about a food challenge in Vermont sponsored by Hunger Free Vermont called the 3SquaresVT challenge (named after the state”s food stamp program). It simply asked people to change their eating and shopping habits for one week to live on the state”s average food stamp allowance: $38.
As a single twentysomething, this wouldn”t be too far of a stretch for me. Resort back to the college ramen and PB & J diet, cut out a beer allowance, and I could survive. But honestly, not for long–I couldn”t do it for weeks and weeks. And if you added kids into that mix? It was a scary thought.
It challenges others to live on the national food stamp budget of $1 a meal, or $3 a person a day. $21? I was dreading $38! If you want a fun and interesting read, FRAC took it one step further and asked members of congress to participate in the challenge. Click here to read their responses and how cutting their budget to $21 severely impacted their meals and food challenges.
When a budget is so restrictive, every factor that one might usually use in the store (nutrition, health, environmentally friendly) goes out the window–Just the price tag. Fresh fruits and produce are out of the question. Forget organic or diet specific foods, or even whole grain or whole wheat. It”s a whole lot of white breads, pasta, and rice. Is living on $21/week possible? Sure. But more importantly, can you receive all the nutrients you need and still eat healthy on $21/week? That, well, I”m just not sure.
Personally, I”d be picking at bones to savor the last little pieces of food–and now I have quite a few bones to pick with the food stamp system.
Could you do it? Could you feed yourself (and/or your family) on $21/person/week? Let us know, we want to hear your thoughts on this one.