I've become very interested in the Feed The Need movement in my local region- the idea that if any of us middle/upper class citizens had to live on the food found in local food bank's hampers we just couldn't do it (or at least not very well).
Feed the Need challenged several local chefs and politicians and important folks to live off of Food Bank food for 5 days in a "Do The Math" challenge. Easy, right?? No grocery shopping required- just pick up your hamper and eat what's in it for 5 days.
Maybe not as easy as you'd think.
I can honestly say that I was so disheartened by what these people were given to eat- and I know that this is the reality for so many. Canned and dry pasta, powdered milk, canned tuna and salmon, maybe a few pieces of fresh fruit and a starchy vegetable or two. And as I read the shockingly honest blog entries from those who are participating, I realized- we can't even fathom. Those of us who have so much, the grocery store just a quick car ride away or takeout at our fingertips, can't even imagine what it would be like to eat and pay our rent on just $585 a month.
The participants have mostly been blogging about how little variety there is. For 5 days, yes, we could all live with little variety. But, people, this is LIFE for so many of those out there. KD with canned peas and tuna on a nightly basis, a cookie here and there, and maybe a few pieces of apple if you're lucky. As I write it, it is boggling to me.
Many years ago, pre-baby, I belonged to a health and fitness website where people would write about their healthy meals and come up with great recipes to mimic fattier (read: delicious) foods using healthy ingredients. I was so into it and I felt terrific eating "clean". But do you know how much I was spending in groceries? $250 A WEEK!!!! (and that might be a conservative estimate). Looking back, I would probably average $1100 a month on food alone- once you factor in quick grocery store pickups and take-out. And, yes, I had the money and could afford to eat as healthily as I wanted to, but that's not the point. The point is, it's expensive to eat well. It's disgustingly expensive to eat well. And it's no shock, at all, that there are so many out there who, after having to make the decision between shelter for their family and healthy food, live off of little more then boxed and canned food.
What I wonder is, HOW did we let it get to this? HOW are people, in our civilized, modern society, being forced to choose between food and shelter? HOW are we throwing out heaps of rotted or unused food while others starve?
Take a few moments to read Feed The Need - what you do with the information is up to you, but be informed. In reality, we are all (yes, all of us) just one, two, maybe three wrong decisions away from being a food hamper recipient ourselves.