Hunger Action Week, Day 1: Who’s Taking the Hunger Challenge?
Hunger Action Week is here! For many in Seattle and King County, that means taking the Hunger Challenge. For others, that means volunteering at a local food bank, contacting their legislators, and donating to local efforts to end hunger in our community. There is one goal for all of this – ending hunger in our communities. We can do it, if we all come together.
It’s a timely start for Hunger Action Week. “Policy Affects Policy“, a report about public assistance programs like basic food benefits shows that these programs kept poverty from rising in New York City during the recession. Without an increased and aggressive effort to enroll eligible families in programs, an increase in the benefit amount, and increases to federal tax credits for low income families and additional 250,000 New Yorkers would have slipped into poverty. “ Said Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, “The added equivalent of income to buy food has been a lifesaver.”
With that in mind, a note about the Challenge: The Hunger Challenge is an exercise. It is an opportunity for those of us who normally do not have to think so concretely about our food budgets to see what life is like for the millions of Americans living in poverty and on basic food benefits – for a week. Not a month. Or a year. At best, the Hunger Challenge can approximate the experience of being on public assistance.
The Hunger Challenge is meant to start conversations and inspire action. Though many of us taking the challenge and sharing our experiences may complain about going without or americanos and lattes or the occasional cocktail or even almond butter, we know that our short-lived and self-imposed inconvenience is nothing compared to the struggles millions of our neighbors face on an on-going basis. Hunger is real and we can end it. The Challenge is one way of raising awareness.
So, who is taking the challenge? A lot of people. Tracy Taylor from King 5 news, Chris Egert from Kiro TV, Martha Kang from KOMO news, Clay Holtzman, Monica Guzman, the folks at Foodista, Kathleen Flinn, Cook Local, Hsaio-Ching Chou, and lots of others.
We’ve already seen two distinct types of participants emerge: The planners and those who choose to make it up as they go. The planners’ posts are full of photos of food purchased and recipes written. The make-it-up-as-you go posts detail, to the penny, the amount spent of each meal. Generally there is some grumbling about what is left over for the dinner budget. I can say from experience (I am a make-it-up-as you go participant) that the planners are going to have a better week.
Andrea Mitchell from Foodista and Can You Stay for Dinner? made her $84 stretch, spending half of her budget on produce. She also, allegedly, gave up almond butter.
Sheri Wetherell from Foodista gave us a great recipe for Apple Banana Raisin Oatmeal and stressed the importance of nursing mothers getting enough good calories during the day. She also explored the items typically found at food banks.
Kathleen Flinn and her partner made their own bread and cut out some ingredients that they would normally use.
John and Patricia from Cook Local made a list and went shopping over the weekend and left just enough money to either buy coffee during the week or beef bones for a soup stock. Recognizing that preparing healthy meals can be time consuming, this time around (Cook Local is a Hunger Action Week Alum) John and Patricia are using recipes that can be prepared relatively quickly.
Monica Guzman purchased ahead of time, but didn’t plan out her meals. She also left a $5 cushion, which seems smart.
Nadja Haldimann shopped at Grocery Outlet and Safeway and found herself in a argument with her husband over an “impulse” cottage cheese purchase.
Martha Kang took the challenge last week but will be posting about her experience with everyone else. Her first post has started a lively comment thread.
Those who make it up as they go:
This would be me. I have done the Hunger Challenge a few times now and never seem to learn my lesson. I don’t plan meals, I don’t shop for more than a few days in advance, and I definitely don’t go to Costco or buy in bulk. Instead of taking the $12 per day for my partner and myself and purchasing a week’s worth of food,I buy each meal individually. This morning that meant blowing my breakfast budget on a cup of drip from Cafe Ladro, picking up a cup of soup for lunch, and leaving me with three dollars for dinner. I think I have to alter my plan.
Luckily, I am not alone in my fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants strategy this year.
Clay Holtzman bought oatmeal, tuna, ramen, and bananas for breakfast and lunch. He left himself in a better position for dinner than I did, with $3.95.
Rory Wallis left himself $1.45 for dinner and skipped his multivitamins.
I’m pretty sure that Back in the Box is one of us non-planners as well.
Are you taking the Hunger Challenge? Let us know, tweet @UnitedWayKC or use #Hunger Challenge or #Whythefork. Check back here everyday to see a a round up of posts and tweets about the Hunger Challenge.