Archive | January, 2019


28 Jan

Every two years I take on my Food Security Challenge to remind others – and myself – of the challenges of trying to live on Food Stamps (Called CalFresh in CA).

For the next month I will have the sum of $6.46 per day to spend on food, which reflects the amount that a single person would receive in benefit.

calfresh.jpgThe environment I begin my challenge with is markedly different than that two years ago.

The provision of food stamps themselves has been threatened in a way they have not been in over a decade. In a desire to cut the numbers receiving food stamps, many people working low wage jobs that do not have set hours will find it harder to receive benefit with the continual changes requiring onerous reporting requirements to prove on a week by week basis that they are not earning above the threshold for food stamps. (Here is a report from the Center on Budget and Policy if you are feeling wonkish. Report Here)

I also find myself in an environment where people are trying to get food stamps who would never imagine having to do so – like Federal Government employees with steady jobs. For all of us, it has highlighted the financial fragility of a country where 34% of Americans have zero savings and only 10% have above $10,000. Finger wagging about lack of thriftiness will only get us so far when healthcare and other costs are spiraling yet wages are stagnant.

This position of increased vulnerability (despite the high level of employment – most of these jobs don’t pay anything like a living wage) has huge implications on levels of addiction, crime, consumer debt and poor health.

Increased vulnerability affects the affluent as well. The Thomas fire and debris flow, that affected our Foodbank’s service area a year ago were a reminder that the Foodbank is there to help everyone in our community.

Am I being a downer? Sometimes you just have to tell it straight.

Over the coming month, I will be speaking to those facing the struggles – federal workers trying to recover from the recent record-breaking shutdown, homeless vets and others. I’ll also be looking at what can be done to help and seeing how I personally manage on my $ 6.46 a day.

Last year I ran out of food before the end of my 30 days and I don’t want to do that, so I’m starting off a low cost breakfast on day#1 of my challenge


Half a piece of wholewheat bread with a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter (no added sugar) Half a piece of bread $0.05 ($3.00 loaf at Trader Joes) and Peanut butter about $ 0.10 ($1.99 Bottle at Trader Joes).

Okay, I have some protein, some fiber and some money in my pocket. Time to go in search of some vegetables!