September is hunger action month and one of the ways we at Food Outreach raise awareness is by trying to eat on $29.00 for a week. This figure represents the amount of food stamps or supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) our average client gets. This will be my third year doing the challenge and I can't say that I'm looking forward to it but it's really nothing compared to what our clients face. For example, I'm not fighting HIV or Cancer and the multitude of side effects that accompanies the treatments for both. I have my own vehicle (try doing public transportation with nausea and diarrhea <two common side effects>). I have an MBA and I'm an RD; if there's anything I should be able to do, it's plan a grocery budget. Most importantly, I have an end date in sight. The hardest part of the whole challenge is the amount of mental energy you have to put into meal planning, budgeting, and preparation and all in fear of running out of food. Food doesn't consume my life but for those seven days it does. I can't imagine how different life would be if it was like that everyday.
One of the reasons that I chose to start participating in the challenge was so that I could put myself in my clients' shoes, if only for a week, so I would have better perspective on how to serve them as an RD. For example, buying in bulk is largely a myth. For one, they don't really have the purchasing power to do so. It's akin to Warren Buffett telling you to buy 25,000 shares of XYZ company because it's going to take off. Secondly, let's say they can afford some bulk shopping; how are they going to carry it all back on the bus? Interestingly enough, I've also found that dairy is hands-down the most difficult food group to satisfy on the $29.00. Don't get me wrong, I know there are plenty of other sources of calcium. but at the same time I feel obligated to at least try when the new "my plate" is pushing it on the unknowing public. This year my focus is going to be to incorporate more beans and grains. I'm pushing for a more plant based menu at Food Outreach. I really want to sink my teeth into this topic and get some intensity on various dishes so I can make better decisions when it comes to altering our menu.
This blog will be on hiatus from 9-6 to 9-13-11 but I'll be typing away over at The Food Outreach Blog I'd love it if you would join us. You don't have to live in St. Louis to participate and we'd appreciate any type of help you can give us with this project. Please check out this site if you're interested
Hope to see you all on the the Food Outreach Blog