This is over. I solemnly spent my last twelve bucks in a wild binge at the supermarket, buying blueberries and extra fruit and even pre-cooked rice, because I DIDN’T CARE!
My challenge was a success in that I found a way to stay healthy on a tiny amount of money ($6.46 per day plus whatever food I could get from a Foodbank or member agency distributions). Does this mean that the money provided for food stamps (Cal Fresh) is sufficient?
No way. Even though I spent over half my money on fresh produce and cooked for myself, my diet became very monotonous. If you cook up a huge pot of vegetarian chili you have to eat it. I was so busy with work and childcare that I would often eat what I had just frozen, because I found I didn’t have time to do more than reheat.
The social aspect was also crippling. I hold a lot of meetings in coffee bars, and I do a lot of work in them. But to buy myself the right of entry, I would had to have spent my entire days money.
Food stamps are no replacement for jobs that pay enough to feed and support a family. Many people on food stamps are working multiple jobs with few benefits, having to make painful choices between spending money on food or on some other necessary expense. Yet a common misconception is of fraud or spongers. (The fraud rate is less than 1%).
That’s why the Foodbank advocates at the State and National level to protect these benefits from being cut, which is a yearly threat. We also work to provide over 9 million pounds of supplemental food to families and seniors that prevent them from slipping into malnutrition.
Anyone could do what I did for a month (and many have no choice). The real challenge is for us to build communities where a living wage will prevent people being in a nightmarish double-bind of working all hours at a job yet still relying on ‘charity.’
Meaningfully enough, my final meal of the challenge was a bowl of soup that my mom made for me. Homemade lentil and spinach soup and delicious. It was a cheat, because the food didn’t come from my food stamp money, but I say so what, if your mom can’t give you a bowl of soup, who can??
Thanks to everyone who has offered encouragement to me this month, it is very kind. Thanks also to the people who left not so encouraging comments on various sites. The purpose of the FSC was to stimulate thought and discussion on a big area of challenge for our country, and I succeeded in doing that, which was the real point in eating all those bowls of chili.