Sunday, March 23, 2008
So, what is the Food Stamp Challenge?
Well, we are blessed to live in a country with enough food for all. The Food Stamp Challenge seeks to help us be aware of the struggles for food that some of our neighbors have, even in the midst of our world’s bounty.
Each month about 25 million people in the United States participate in the nation’s Food Stamp Program. On average, the participants receive $21 per week ($1 per meal) for each person in their household to eat. As a result, millions of people in our nation—some who are our neighbors right here in Nashville—find it difficult to eat enough food each day and nearly impossible to add healthy choices into their diets.
Belmont’s Good Neighbors ministry invites you to stand in solidarity with our hungry neighbors through the Belmont Food Stamp Challenge. You can join the challenge at any time during Lent.
How You Can Participate:
1. Prayer: Please remember those who are hungry in your daily prayers.
2. $21 Food Stamp Challenge: Live for at least one week of Lent ( or the entire Lenten season Feb. 6- March 23) on the national average Food Stamp allotment of $21 per person in your household per week.
3. WNAB: Fellowship with other Belmonters on Wednesday nights and choose to eat the $1 meal option instead of the regular meal (write $1 next to your reservation, please). Also plan to attend special WNAB sessions on the Food Stamp Challenge and homelessness and poverty in Nashville Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 5.
4. Offering: Save the money that you would have spent for your family each week you participate, and offer it as an Easter gift to a feeding program of choice (a list of a few programs are available on the sidebar). Even if you are not doing the $21/week challenge, you can save a designated amount each week of Lent so that you can donate to a program of choice.
We hope you'll visit the blog often and leave comments about your experience!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Then my taste buds remind me that it's been forever since I've eaten at Jackson's or Fido. I haven't had a girls' night at Rumours or been able to invite my friends over for a fun, festive meal that we make at home. They remind me that it has been many long weeks of beans, rice, spaghetti, potatoes and PB&J . . . My taste buds are ready for the Resurrection!
When I made French fries the other day, my roommate Amanda was astounded. She thought fries came from Wendy's or from a frozen bag named OreIda. She was amazed when I literally sliced a potato, seasoned the strips and heated oil to make real French fries. And they were delicious! Fresh, tasty and seasoned to my liking.
We are so far removed from our food the more money we spend. Someone else makes it for us or packages it for us. It takes more time (and we're certainly tired of our kitchen and dishes right now), but there's something beautiful about having to make your own meal.
What isn't beautiful, however, is that when we live on such little money, we are not able to always make healthy meals. The impoverished in our country and around the world can't always appreciate the beauty of the basics when they are not eating healthy enough for survival.
I believe even more in the beauty of community gardens after this experience. When I grew tomatoes last year, I made pizza and spaghetti sauces from scratch. It was tasty, and it felt good to use fresh basil and tomatoes from my potted garden. My salads were delicious! I chose healthier ways to eat with my tiny garden. My pot was easily accessible, and my roommate at the time said, "Ciona, aren't you afraid someone's going to come and steal your tomatoes?" I hope that someone who needs it will "steal" them . . .
Saturday, March 8, 2008
a. Community is a lifeline, and God means for us to live in community.
b. Food is a blessing and world of complex, beautiful human creations.
c. After trying to eat nutritiously on $1/meal for almost 5 weeks, I can totally understand someone wanting to blow the budget on Doritos. I will judge less.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Well, the offers keep coming. Not because we've told people that we were accepting food but simply because people want to make sure we have plenty to eat during this time. It's amazing, really, how our friends and family won't let us eat poorly. We were gifted with fresh farm eggs from a friend who had extra eggs from the farm co-op at church. We have been given frozen vegetables from one of our friend's parents. Our mother fed us while we were here and insists on gifting us with food. It's quite humbling really. And, while we really try to live within just the $21, we are blessed by the gifts.
I'm reminded of being in Eldorado Park, a community in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2005. I stayed with a family who had enough to survive but not much more. But when a child from next door came to the house and said that her family had no more bread and could not afford any bread, Auntie Connie gave her the bread they had left without hesitation. I'm reminded of the many times we've been with our homeless neighbors in Nashville and seen them share with one another and with us. I'm reminded of the early believers in the book of Acts who lived together in community and "no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common . . . There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold" (Acts. 4:32-34). This was not a decree of the government at the time; these were people of faith imagining a better way to live with each other.
There is enough food in the world for everyone to be fed well, but still so many go hungry. Could the church imagine another way?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The worst part is not eating out - ever. That's what's wearing me down the most. I am spending so much more time in the kitchen. No eating out ever means all three meals for five people come from our little kitchen - the making of and the cleaning up. I'm getting kind of sick of that place. I also miss my Coca Cola.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Wednesday, Feb. 13, Belmont member Margaret Holleman spoke to us about how she and her husband--Metro Councilman Jason Holleman--took the food stamp challenge last fall and lived on $21 each for a week. She shared several lessons learned during their week:
-The Hollemans did not do business lunches or special receptions during their week, recognizing that people who get food stamps are in an income bracket that typically does not afford them the luxury of free big meals as a result of business or social gatherings.
-The Kroger in Bordeaux has the most utilization of food stamps in the Nashville area
-The only seasonings they used on their foods that week were salt and ketchup--something anyone could just get from a local fast food restaurant.
-Their fruit and vegetable intake was slim. Apples and carrots were the most expensive of their grocery purchases. Margaret said she sliced the carrots into tiny pieces so that they would last longer.
-Jason carried a pocket calculator as they shopped so that he could add as they shopped to be sure they don't go over the alloted amount.
-Margaret found that they were very hungry for the first two days but adjusted as the week progressed.
-Margaret really missed drinking coffee and may have "cheated" once or twice for a cup of joe.
-They purchased potatoes on a great sale, but the potatoes began molding in just a few days. Sales may not necessarily be a great deal for people on food stamps.
Holleman Family Shopping List
$42 for two adults
Rice, 2 lbs.
Potatoes, 10 lbs.
Dried red beans, 1 lb.
Diced tomatoes, 2 cans
Tuna fish (chunk light), 4 cans
Carrots, w/ tops, 1 lb.
Apples, red delicious, 2 lbs.
Milk, 2%, 1 gallon
Cheese, sharp cheddar, 1 lb.
Eggs, medium, 1 doz.
Spinach, leaf, frozen, 1 lb.
Chicken, 1 whole, 3 lbs.
Ground beef, lean, 1 lb. (Manager’s Special!)
Spaghetti, 1 lb.
Macaroni, 1 lb.
Spaghetti sauce, one can
Peanut butter, 1 jar
Wheat bread, 1 loaf
Honey, 1 jar
Oatmeal, 1 lb size
Ramen noodles, 2 packages
Holleman Dinner Options
Red beans and rice
Ingredients used: some of dried beans, some of the rice, 1 can tomatoes
Ingredients used: spaghetti, sauce
Roast chicken and potatoes
Ingredients used: Chicken, onion, potatoes
Macaroni and cheese
Ingredients used: macaroni, cheese, milk, eggs
Ingredients used: Onion, spinach, cheese, milk, eggs
Ingredients used: potatoes, onion
Ingredients used: ground beef, dried beans, potatoes, cheese, 1 can tomatoes, spinach
Lunches & Breakfasts
They each had oatmeal (made with combination of milk and water) almost every day, ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches, cut up carrots and apples, tuna, and leftovers.
At the end of the week, the Hollemans had the following items leftover:
- some spaghetti and macaroni
- peanut butter
- Ramen, both packages
*Photograph courtesy of www.jasonholleman.com.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Nutritionists often advise us to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and to limit our intake of sweets and salts as much as possible. But is this possible on $21/week?
Here are typical costs to provide healthy lunches*:
1/2 peanut butter sandwich
3/4 cup carrots
1 cup milk
Total Cost: $1.19
1/2 turkey sandwich
2 cups spinach salad (w/ dressing)
Total Cost: $2.40
With the current food stamp average in the United States of $21 per person, this is essentially $3/day and $1/meal. As you see, one dollar hardly provides a full healthy meal for children or adults.
Jesus was often prompted by compassion to act on behalf of those who were suffering loss, disease and hunger. It seems inevitable that those who follow Jesus must also show compassion in all of their decisions and actions . . . The followers of Jesus cannot ignore the needy of the world, and neither can we look away from the needs of the world. If our lives are modeled after the one we claim to follow, we will, as Jesus did, look with compassion upon all who cross our paths. Looking with compassion requires the further step of seeking to alleviate the pain that prompted our compassion.
~ Bishop Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God
So who are we called to be as followers of Jesus when so many families in our nation and around the world cannot afford even one healthy meal?
*Information from ELCA Food Stamp Challenge
I do not complain, though. I have eaten well this week. Most meals have not been as exciting as the days when I might create a shopping list solely based on one amazing Rachel Ray recipe. I've eaten, though, and I've eaten pretty well.
I had a friend buy a meal for me, and I was very grateful for our dinner together. I traveled for work, too, and my colleague treated me to a feast at a Moroccan restaurant. She did not know about the challenge when she offered. I had not eaten since breakfast that morning, so when I ate that meal, I had felt the pain of hunger for hours. It was nice to receive a filling free meal.
So far, I'm reminded of the joy of community. We are not islands. My $21 does not go very far. But when Lanecia and I purchase food together, $42 seems a bit more filling. Gifts from friends are sheer blessings. So how can I be in community better with my neighbors who wonder where they will get their next meal? What gift can I give that might be someone's sheer blessing without my even knowing it?