Starting today my family and I will be taking the United Way of King County Hunger Challenge for five days. The purpose of Hunger Action Week is to create awareness around the issue of hunger and the challenges people face along with it.
Hunger is up 24 percent in Washington State . The ongoing recession and current economic conditions have many families struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table.
Although my children have never experienced hunger, both my husband and I have (you can read a little bit about our story on growing up hungry from last years Hunger Challenge). Hunger is a serious issue. Looking back at the beginning of last year’s challenge I wanted to show others it was possible to eat pretty well on a limited budget. However, it became very clear right away that doing so took away from the whole point of the challenge. Reading commentaries and comments on my own blog, as well as other participating food bloggers, was a learning and growing experience. I whole-heartily believe most of us (if not all) had the best intentions to inspire people to cook and eat healthier despite a limited budget; however it became clear we were missing the spirit of Hunger Week. Some bloggers were accused of being arrogant and out of touch with the realities people face when on low-income assistance. Then there were readers who left unfair comments on blog posts (not mine but others participating) regarding the use of kitchen appliances or expensive ingredients. None the less I enjoyed following everyone’s journey and made some wonderful new friends. By the end of the week I was reminded of my own childhood, hungry at times, and the difficulties families face when having to manage time and resources.
Because I live minutes away from many grocery stores (5 are within 5 minutes from my house) I had the luxury of being able to shop the stores for the best food prices last year. Living off of one income and being frugal, I know which stores have the best prices for meat, vegetables, fruit, etc. So it was much easier for me to get the best deals to prepare a diverse range of meals. This year I don’t plan on shopping the stores for the best value. Instead, I am going to shop at 1 store which is just blocks away from me. I’m also not going to be preparing as many different types of dishes and baked goods this time around. Although I believe menu planning is a valuable tool and resource to help with budgeting meals, this requires organization on my part and I don’t have the energy, desire, or time to do this.
Last night I went grocery shopping to buy essential items (milk, eggs, butter, cereal, etc) and other grocery items for my kids lunches, snacks, and a few other items for dinner tonight. Already $65 is spent.
Because I’m a frugal person our food bill is already pretty low. Having cooking and baking skills helps provide a wide variety of meals for my family. But for many families, having time to prepare meals is the bigger issue. Most of the dinners this week will be quick and easy.
I don’t want to dilute the purpose of Hunger Action Week by making the focus a cooking or baking challenge . Instead I’m going to take it day by day like I do now. In other words, I’m not going out of my way to cook or bake for this challenge outside of what I already do. Do not let this blog fool you, most days I have no clue what we’ll be eating until it’s 5pm. I hope to post a few recipes, but no guarantees. Last year I broke the cost of everything down and nearly lost my mind in the process. I will not be doing that again this year. Mostly I’ll just be sharing with you our journey throughout the week. I invite you to come back and share this journey with us.
The “challenge” for the week will be to live on a food assistance (food stamp) budget for a family of 5, which is $132. Below are the guidelines we received as participants in this challenge:
Hunger Challenge rules:
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner spending only $7 ($26 for a family of 5) per day.
- Salt and pepper don’t count but all other seasonings, cooking oils, condiments, snacks, drinks, and everything else do.
- Don’t use food you already own.
- Don’t accept food from family, friends, coworkers and others. Not even the free samples from Costco!
- Try to include fresh produce and healthy protein each day.
- Keep track of expenses, food choices, etc. and share your experiences on United Way of King County’s blog.
- You can choose to do the challenge with your partner or family.
|Household Size||Hunger Challenge Budget For Five Days|
Consider the following:
- Can you feed yourself for only $7 a day?
- If you had to make a choice between buying groceries and paying your rent, how would you choose?
- What compromises will you need to make?
- Will you be able to provide much variety or will you need to eat the same thing all week?
- If you don’t know how to cook, does this make the challenge more difficult?
If you would like to participate in the Hunger Challenge it’s not too late. All the information you need to sign up can be found here.
For an updated list of Food Bloggers taking the Hunger Challenge, participants can be found here at the UWKC Blogroll page.
From United Way of King County: Our Donation Project – “Yes We Can!”
While raising money is not the number one component of this campaign, it is definitely a part of it. For Hunger Action Week, we are raising money for a very cool project that I’m excited about.
The “Yes We Can!” project is a partnership with United Way of King County, the South King County Food Coalition, Northwest Harvest, and a local cannery.
We are trying to raise $10,000 so that we can rent out time at the cannery to benefit local food banks. By having access to this cannery, fresh fruit and produce that would normally be thrown away due to their short shelf-life will get canned, preserved, and sent out to area food banks! That way, nutritious produce isn’t wasted and food banks will have fuller shelves. It’s a great project that we are proud to be part of.
- Hunger Action Grocery Budget Totals
- United Way Hunger Action Week Opening Thoughts
- Hunger Challenge Day 1 $20.03
- Hunger Challenge Day 2 $38.94
- Hunger Challenge Day 3 $8.15
- Hunger Challenge Day 4 $16.44
- Hunger Challenge Day 5 $18.19