I'm taking the five day Hunger Challenge and will be feeding my family for just under $50 -- the equivalent of the average SNAP benefit (I’m using the household average SNAP benefit of $47.60 for the five days for my family of three). My hope is that through my experiences with the Hunger Challenge, I will understand just a little more than I did before about the struggles many of our neighbors face every day and by sharing my thoughts and experiences it will help someone else understand. You can read more about my week on my blog, Hunger Bites.
I was running late yesterday (day three of the challenge) and considered not making a lunch for my husband or myself (the kid was going to a friend’s and would be fed lunch there) but I knew we didn’t have money in our “food stamp” budget to buy lunch. (Note: you can’t buy fast food or prepared food with CalFresh benefits. For the purposes of this challenge any food purchases are to be included in our allotment. If you have seen “EBT Accepted” sign at a fast food place, that is for homeless or seniors only who may not have kitchens to prepare their food.) I stayed to make lunch and start our dinner in the crock pot resulting in me being late to my meeting. Not good.
When you are already working long hours, maybe working at two jobs, taking your kids to and from day care, and staying up late worrying about how you are going to pay your bills and feed your kids, your plans don’t always work out how you, well, planned. Running late can happen to anyone. But when you are already distracted at work because of the stress of not knowing how you are going to put food on the table, running late to work is just another thing working against you. You are probably worried about the security of your job at this point. I’m just guessing how someone on this sort of food budget might feel. I really don’t know but I do know I have been more distracted, tired and overall feeling less productive since I started this challenge. I can only imagine how scary all this would be if this was really the life I was living.
I would love to hear how you plan and stay on track for your meals without having to go for take out when things don’t work out as you intended. I think this is something many of struggle with whether or not we receive CalFresh/SNAP benefits.
If you would like to learn more about the Hunger Challenge, food assistance or SNAP (CalFresh in California, formally Food Stamps) please visit the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano's website at www.foodbankccs.org.