Friday, May 9, 2014

Are YOU Up For The Challenge?

Imagine an individual that struggles with food insecurity in America; going from paycheck to paycheck just to survive. Everyday is a struggle to find food, let alone nutritional food. Having to compromise quality for quantity to be able to eat somewhat on a regular basis. 

Now imagine this individual has children. The added amount of immense pressure to not only feed them self, but to also feed the mouths of the hungry children. The individual can barely survive doing it on their own, but now they have others that rely on them. He/She could have gotten away with eating Ramen noodles, come to be known as the broke-college student's diet, but now with children the picture is different. The struggling parent can't feed their children Ramen noodles, they must give the kids something nutritional to eat to be able to grow properly. This is a real and common struggle for some in America. 

This is an infamous picture taken of a struggling mother and her children during the Great Depression. This hungry and desperate mother and her children became an icon of those hard times. Even though not every situation looks like this on the outside, doesn't mean it still isn't happening.

This kind of struggle is shown through Barbie's touching story of being a single mother of two, wanting to go to college to make a better home for her kids, and at the moment trying to find a job. One can see her story in the movie A Place At The Table, a movie on instant play on Netflix, or rent it at your local library. Here is a trailer! 

A U.S. Representative of Massachusetts, James McGovern (how ironic that his last name is McGovern and he works for the US Government!),  attempted to live off of food stamps for one week. Many don't know that the average food stamp budget/benefit is $3 for one day. So for a week's groceries, on average, a person can only spend $21. Small things that many people find as necessities, like coffee, are not even close to something they can purchase. Not only that, but they would have to purchase or obtain coffee filters which is not an item that can be purchased with food stamps. For the sake of demonstration, we will allow coffee filters to be purchased with food stamps. So if someone was on food stamps and they wanted to purchase coffee....

Average budget of $21 for 7 days

  • Cheap ground coffee -> 33 oz. = $5.28  which can make around 64 cups of coffee
  • One cup a day, would last a person a little over two months
$21- $5.28 = $15.72

1/4th of the money to spend is already gone!!

  • Coffee filters -> 60 filter pack = $2.78 which can make 60 cups of coffee, unless you're inventive! 
$15.72 - $2.78 = $12.94

Left to spend is 3/5th of the budget

2/5th of the budget is already gone just by buying coffee. It's not even nutritional or filling food!!!!!! This blows my mind...  

The U.S. Representative mentioned earlier, James McGovern, only did the experiment for a week. He said, "I had my budget and I went to the supermarket. It took me an awful long time because you have to add up every penny and it has to last you for a week. So I did it, and I will tell you I was tired, I was cranky... There are people who are living on that food stamp allocation. And you really can't... Every day is a struggle just to eat." A lot of people in America know what this type of life-style is like. A lot of people in America do not know what it is like. I fall under the latter. For me, to be extraordinarily passionate about something, I must experience it first-hand. What is a better way to educate about an issue and understand the struggles than to experience it first hand? So now for those of you that do not face this issue....


I sure am! I will try to eat off of $21 dollars worth of food for one week. I will blog about my journey! So, check it out when I post it sometime after May 19th! Because I am in college, I do not want to waste the money for food my parent's pay for that goes directly to the school, so my challenge will be different and maybe in some ways easier. When I'm out of school, I can try this again! But either way, all of the food I will eat for the next week will add up to $21. This starts May 9th 2014 and will end May 16th, 2014... unless I cave! Fingers crossed!!

Try this quiz out to see if you are knowledgeable about the hunger issue in America!

1 comment:

  1. This article really gets to me! To think about budgeting like that not only for me but also a family is almost unfathomable! The challenge may be difficult, but to put yourself in that mindset and to understand the struggles that food insecurity causes in people, makes me want to challenge myself put myself in their shoes. Thank you for this article and bringing this issue more to light with the challenges that food insecurity causes in people.