Monday, April 16, 2012

Thoughts from Lorie McClain in Preparing for the Food Stamp Challenge

Thinking ahead to my week in May doing the Food Stamp Challenge has brought back memories of my childhood.  My mom stayed home and my father worked. He only had a ninth grade education, he had been in the military, but never served during war time so he was not a veteran. He worked 60 hour work weeks and took on side jobs to earn more using the job skill set that he had, which was in master carpentry. Both my parents were the product of the depression and of World War II both coming from large rural farm families. My parents met, married, and had four children. 
Growing up we had very little money. My father made too much for us to get assistance and to little for us to survive on. So my mother made sure we had clothes by making them, or we got hand-me downs from other family. Trust me when I say we wore no brand names and, other than tennis shoes at the beginning of the school year, very few brand new clothes. My mom was a good cook so she made the most out of the meals she made. We got help with food from our grandparents who were farmers. From my father’s dad we got red label bologna and some beef. From my mom’s parents we got a couple chickens for helping with the butchering of them, eggs, and then my grandparents would on the occasion forget that there were only two people left in their household and bought too much hamburger for them to use. 
All of this added up to my family having a meal on the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But the meals where simple and definitely not healthy and sometimes small. We would have meatloaf, spaghetti, rice pudding, and hamburger with cream of mushroom soup over toast, baked beans with hot dogs, and clean out the refrigerator night, which was the leftovers for the above meals. On Sunday was the big splurge we had chicken or pork with mashed potatoes and gravy, if it was butchering time for the cattle then we would have a few Sundays with beef. We always knew when things were tighter because we would have spaghetti without meat, only sauce, during the week and on Sunday. School lunch was PB&Jor bologna sandwiches and we carried a thermos with sweet tea (we never had anything else to drink). We never bought pop, candy, or chips, only needed foods. 
I look forward in May during the Community Action Month Food Stamp Challenge to seeing if it is still possible to cook some of the meals that my mother made us, or if I can find a way to make healthier meals, or if I will have to find a way to skip meals. The most interesting part is I have a month to think through a plan, which isn’t something that most food stamp recipients have.

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