Monday, May 7, 2012

Thank You For Participating in the Challenge

The Ohio Community Action Food Stamp Challenge is now over and we'd like to thank everyone who participated in the Challenge. I'm sure everyone is happy to be back to their normal routine, able to eat the foods they love, but we hope that you learned something and can better appreciate those more satisfying meals. I know I learned a lot about how much things cost and am more aware of the struggles low-income people face. I can definitely better appreciate what I have and so can several of our bloggers. Below are a few comments from participants about what they learned:

  •  I hope the challenge will increase my awareness that people are hungry all the time, before and after the holidays when many give food baskets. Often we describe ours as the world’s richest nation. But something’s wrong when we wallow in our wealth and arrogantly bypass others who want what we take for granted: a good meal every day. 

  •  But even though I've had an attitude adjustment, I know there is food in the house I'm chosing not to eat for these five days. On Saturday I go back to my life, with all the food I can eat. That doesn't seem fair, doesn't feel right.

  • As I engaged in turmoil about using salt, I thought that perhaps high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are so rampant in poorer communities because those residents consume a lot of foods with high amounts of sodium, sugar, and fat. After all, the money is simply not there for them to buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are more expensive.

  • Though not this week, I spend more than $23 a week for fresh foods. So now, if the grocery budget lets you get more food but that is less healthful, what are you going to do? Could it be that poor people’s grocery carts are filled with foods that are high in fat, salt, cholesterol, and sugar because those foods are more affordable and help ward off feelings of emptiness and hunger? I hope the answer to those questions helps the more fortunate empathize with what  poor cope with regularly.

  • But what do people living on SNAP hope for? They hope to make it through the day making sure their families don’t go hungry. They hope to someday say yes to their children when they ask for that treat at the grocery store that’s just a bit too pricey. They hope to make it through the grocery line without the fear that their SNAP card will be denied. They hope to someday leave food stamps behind. And as this challenge comes to a close, I’m unsure of what I’ve learned from it. I’ve learned the obvious: that this is no way to live, that things need to change. But what can be done about it? Do we aim to change food stamps or the people who use them? Is it a bit of both? Is minimum wage the problem? Every time I think I have an answer, more questions pop up. If anything can be taken from following this week's Food Stamp Challenge, I hope it's an understanding that hunger is a very real problem for hardworking people across the country. And I hope that understanding comes with a sense of urgency to fix it.

  • I think it would be challenging to do this week after week but, assuming you have the ability to stop at a few different stores, you can plan your meals around what’s on sale, what might stretch the farthest.
    I’m thrifty as a rule, but I’m thankful I don’t have to be every day.

  • I've been thinking a lot these past five days not just about the food I couldn't eat, but about how grateful I should be about the plenty that's always been in my life. And why I've been so blessed. If I were born to a family in a public housing project in Toledo, I probably would have grown up hungry most of the time. If I were born to a family in Africa or Asia, I may not have grown up at all. But, by luck or fate, I was born into a family of plenty in a community of plenty in a country of plenty.
    Living for five days on $23 is possible, but for me just a little inconvenient. Tomorrow I go back to my life of plenty. Life is not fair when so many have so little in a land of such plenty.

  • People who are poor cannot cheat. If it’s not in the budget to buy, there’s none ... After that experience, I thought about the working poor whose jobs often require labor. With no money for healthy snacks, no wonder people are attracted to cheaper snacks heavily laden with sodium, sugar, and carbs.... I hope policy makers paid attention to reports on the challenge. Food budgets must be increased for those who need assistance. I don’t know the answers as to how that should happen, but as my colleagues and I have shown, it has been tough to stay on the budget and think of much else besides food.

  • I stayed within forty cents of the budget and I was able to feed myself for five days. I also learned a lot and gained just a little insight into the lives of people who use food stamps. ... This is yet another example of how difficult it is to manage inside the confines of a budget for people relying on food stamps for most of their food budget.

  • In these five short days I have gotten a good sense of how exhausting and difficult it is to manage food on a very tight budget. While I think I have managed my budget and meal planning successfully, it hasn’t been easy or all that much fun. My choices are limited, there is no wiggle room, and if I make a choice I don’t like, tough. And I have minimal obstacles. I have my own transportation so I have shopping options. I have a regular work schedule. I don’t have kids. And, I have a kitchen full of cooking tools, like a Crock-Pot and reliable refrigeration to store leftovers. So, yes it is just an exercise and it is always easy to judge other people’s decisions, but going through this has been more than an exercise for me. While I supported programs like SNAP before the challenge, I have a much different understanding now of why they matter.

  • Overall, the challenge has opened my eyes about all the time that it takes planning meals when you are on a limited budget. I could no longer grab and go. I had to be thinking about the bigger picture – how is this meal choice going to affect the rest of my options for the week?

  • I feel deeply for those who are forced to rely on food stamps and have nothing to reach for when they are hungry and have little choice in foods. I can only think of the games their mind’s play with them.

  • I think about the day a low-income family finally overcomes their major hurdles, are stable, and each day is getting better for them. The day they can go to the store and buy the food that is needed, as well as some that is wanted. ... There is a difference between providing food for someone for a short timeframe until they are on their feet and punishing them because they need taxpayer help with food for a short time. The current system for food stamps is out of date. It doesn’t feed people, it only allows them minimal food enough to stay alive. After this week I truly know the difference. 

No comments:

Post a Comment