A Challenge

*** see update below***

I started off a week ago writing a blog post about the holidays, food, get togethers and how I have enjoyed sharing my blog with people over the past year. All of these things are true, we hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at our house, had a New Years Eve gathering for friends, and I have very much enjoyed sharing my recipes with you this year.

Also this year I have a lot to be thankful for; a great boyfriend, a new home, close friends and family, a good job and enough money to enjoy going out to eat or cooking a big meal. I have been thinking a lot about how fortunate many of us are, and how different it would if I wasn’t able to have all the things I am so thankful for.

So last night during dinner, Steve and I began discussing grocery shopping (always a discussion at our table) and that because we want to go out to dinner for special occasions (anniversary, birthday, etc) we need to be mindful of our budget. Then the discussion turned to a recent challenge from Partnership for a Healthier America where Chefs Tom Colicchio, Maria Hines, Holly Smith and Ming Tsai to take the Great American Family Dinner Challenge” tocook a healthy dinner for two real families on a SNAP (food stamp) budget”. In this challenge the chefs were given $10 to make a healthy meal for 4 people. This started Steve and I thinking.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 14.2% of Americans receive food stamps. In Virgina that equals roughly $129.55 per adult. Of course there are factors like income, age and people per household, but let’s use the amount from the USDA.

So the challenge began, could we eat on a SNAP budget? Steve and I both have a background in human services and working with undeserved individuals (Steve still does), and we have worked with people who receive assistance for housing and food, but could we do it? A strict budget of $4.23 a day per person for 3 meals and drinks? Would our friends join us?

So here it is, the challenge for the 5 days to live on $4.23 per person per day for food and drinks. We will start on Monday January 23rd and go through Friday January 27th. Let me add, this does not mean we understand what it is like to live like this every day, having to buy all of your necessities (household items are not included in this) (here are the SNAP guidelines for food purchases) and food on a strict budget. There are wonderful organizations that help fill in the gaps when the cupboard begins to look bare, but they too are struggling to provide for people and families that need the extra help. This will hopefully help shed a little light and understanding on the challenges that over 43.6 million Americans face every day


Over the next few days I will post more about this challenge, guidelines and ideas. A few people have already joined in; Erica S and her family as well as Ellen and her family. My hope is that each day we can post our menus and how this worked.

Comment below if you would like to join us or email veggiegirlcooks1 @ gmail.com. You can follow on Twitter as well

*** Update***
Chef Karl Wilder (San Fransisco) Writes about living on a food stamp budget for 2 months last year (2011)- http://www.fusiononthefly.com/


Also the Huffington Post Article –

Food Informants: A Week In The Life Of Karl Wilder, A Chef Living On A Food Stamp Budget

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