Ombudsman: Hungry reporter finds new reason to donateWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
When I take out my mail May 12, I am also taking out a bag of canned goods and nonperishable food items.
I have never donated to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers, but that was before I tried to stretch my food budget to $23 for five days.
The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies recently hosted the “Food Stamp Challenge” to convey what an average food stamp recipient receives.
Did I stretch my food budget to $23 for five days?
Do I want to try again?
Here’s what I bought, which totaled about $34:
• Lean Pockets – Five boxes (two sandwiches in each box) for $10
• String cheese – $3.50
• Box of soup – $1.99
• Bananas – $1.60
• Fast-food fries – $1
• Mexican with my husband– $6
• A dozen eggs – $2
• Loaf of whole-wheat bread – $2
• Tub of butter – $3.39
• Bag of raw carrots – $2
My strategy was to buy staples that I could use in a variety of ways. Bread, butter and eggs go a long way. Plus, these items are decent for your health and waistline (maybe not the butter).
I was doing well until the fourth day when I just wanted something different to eat. Hence, the trip I took to the Mexican restaurant with my husband. We went Dutch so I could “try” to maintain this budget
The main problem with only $23 for five days was the lack of variety. It was cheaper to buy items on sale like five boxes of Lean Pockets for $10 because you got 10 meals in one swoop.
I also didn’t get a lot of protein on this budget because meat is expensive. And when I forgot my lunch for work, fast-food wasn’t as much fun as usual. I had to stick to the dollar menu, which was not home to my $4 grilled chicken sandwich from Wendy’s. I got fries for a buck.
Luckily, I don’t have to be on this budget, but for those who do, they could try to supplement with groceries from food banks, churches and other places. I knew this was an option before I took the challenge; I now believe this is a necessity.
So on May 10, leave a bag containing nonperishable items like canned soup and vegetables, pasta, rice and cereal next to your mailbox. The donation will go to the Feeding America program or hunger-relief organizations in more than 10,000 communities, including many throughout Ohio.
Feeding American provides food assistance to 37 million Americans annually. One in eight Americans relies on it for groceries, according to a press release, and the organization distributes 3 billion pounds of food a year. That is much more than $23 for five days.