By Ken Bresnan, Parish Outreach Liaison, Catholic Charities
Welcome back to the Food Stamp Challenge. I realized in the beginning that it would be a challenge. What I didn’t realize is that it would also be emotional.
Working through another day on $4.50 is still a challenge and a new experience. Besides my awareness everyday that there is no money left for any snacks, morning coffee somewhere, and a mid afternoon pop, I am really starting to feel a sense of lack of freedom.
My Menu - Day Three
My most recent day started with the ubiquitous cereal with a banana and coffee. Lunch returned to the infamous bologna sandwich with chips and a can of pop. That took me to
$2.80 so far for the day. Supper then would have to come in at $1.70. Therefore I could have a quarter lb of 80% ground beef hamburger in my Hamburger Helper along with some canned beans. Not much meat once cooked. My other choice was half a frozen pizza with a small apple. I went with the Hamburger Helper meal.
Observations about choice and frustration
Normally when I go to the grocery store or plan my meals for the day or week, I really don’t have any boundaries. Naturally I can’t have steak and shrimp every day, but I am used to a variety with a meat or fish and vegetables and fruit every day. But when I go to the store now, I don’t feel that I have much choice. There are thousands of items in the grocery store but I am learning that there are only a small percentage of those that I can work with.
The frustrating part is that this is what I came up with after walking up and down most of the isles of the grocery store. Let me emphasize that the frustration part is really showing itself. As I was looking for items I didn’t have the feeling that I had much choice at all.
As I have said before, the empathy is increasing each day that I do this project.