My Hunger Action Month Challenge: One week down, Three more to go.
This week I learned the meaning of the term food insecure.
"Defined, food insecurity is when you are so limited in resources to buyfood that you are running out of food, reducing the quality of food that your family eats, feeding your children unbalanced diets, or skipping meals so your children can eat. 15.8% of Texas' population is food insecure" (http://www.safoodbank.org/index.php/info/hunger-fact).
This week, my household was food insecure.
The grocery shopping that I did last week did not last - sort of. I bought too much of one thing and not enough of the other. For example, we ran out of bread on Wednesday but we had plenty of frozen vegetables.
I've reduced the quality of food that we're eating. Instead of purchasing fresh produce and meats last week, I purchased a lot of frozen meals and frozen vegetables. I even bought a package of macaroni and cheese (something I hadn't done since my college years and which I made for my lunch today).
And I've skipped some meals. Not too many. But here and there.
Having said all this, I also went out to lunch with some friends. Talk about a hack job on my pledge, right?
I bought a children's meal (PB & J sandwhich + a bowl of fruit + apple juice) for $4.95 and a half of an egg sandwich (that thankfully was GINORMOUS!) for $2.19.
Juniper didn't touch an ounce of her food. Well. Allow me to correct myself. She may have touched it, but didn't eat an ounce of her food. And I, having felt guilty for breaking my pledge, tried to make up for it by eating only my 1/2 sandwich (which was only 19 cents over my allotted food stamp budget). We boxed up June's lunch and on the walk back to the car, a passerby caught my eye and asked if he could have my leftovers. I gladly gave it to him.
I learned a lot this week.
I learned that my figures for the food stamp budget was way off. I had based my numbers off of the 30 in 30 calendar on the San Antonio Goes Orange website, where it says $2 per person, per meal. But based on the San Antonio Food Bank's numbers, that number is significantly wrong... so my budget for this week has dropped to $29.35/person! Luckily Stacy Teet of KSW directed me to Epicurious's handy-dandy list of Top 10 Money-Saving Ingredientsd and to Divine Caroline's list of 20 healthful foods under $1 (although I question Caroline's math on a few of those items) to help me on my journey. Wish me luck in week 2.
Most significantly, I learned that when you're food insecure? Your entire life changes.
I've kept my life and the lifestyle of my family fairly routine. If I were single and had no children, I probably would've taken it to the next level & included lifestyle choices to my pledge. I'm pretty involved in a lot of things. And if I were truly food insecure, a lot of those luxuries that I'm involved in would have to go out the door! For example, this week, the auxiliary group that I sit on the board for held a luncheon (which I didn't attend) and the lunch would've cost me $15.
The feeling of loss when you're food insecure is unimaginable. It has got to be really frustrating working 1-2 jobs trying to provide for your family, but coming up short. Throw on top of that the sense that you're losing yourself - no more social engagements, time to yourself, etc. And if you have kids? No more play dates. Friends don't/can't come over. No more impromptu cupcake runs. You become, in a way, a social outcast. But not so much because others are outcasting you, but because you can no longer participate in social events as many of them, interestingly, focus themselves around food.
I feel a little silly doing this pledge. I know that I could be doing a better job, but am not able to make myself give up much more than food. When it impedes on my social calendar, I have a hard time sticking to it. This is simply yet another example of the fact that I've mentioned before, regardless of whatever simulation I come up for my pledge? It will never compare to the truth of living with food insecurity.
There are 20 more days in Hunger Action Month. What are you going to do to help fight hunger in America?