I grew up, often with food stamps, sometimes reduced and free lunch, etc.  There have been times in my life when $100 in a month for groceries would have been a gift.  So I have been through it, not as bad as some, but worse than many.  Even so, the exercise has been valuable so far.  Here’s why, and I am sure I will add some more to this on Friday:

  • Paying attention to what we buy, we eat healthier and more responsibly.  But we certainly would struggle to eat organic…we are pretty much at the grocer’s mercy.  We almost never eat organic anyway, but at least if we read something about highest pesticide fruits for example, we have the choice to change what we do.
  • It isn’t easy, especially if you have to buy everything from scratch.  For example, to get a 30 cent sandwich, we had to spend $5.00 on peanut butter and jelly, as well as $4.00 on bread.  That is a big part of the budget.  We are not using anything from the house, nor accepting any food at work or from friends.
  • The kids have had some real tradeoffs to make.  Looking at prices, planning to a budget and making tradeoffs, even if just for a week, makes a difference.
  • They have learned to look at coupons.  Panda Express had a free coupon on Facebook, Albertsons had some amazing coupons this week, Target had some good ones, my mom even called with coupons she had found.  Of course, not everyone has the luxury of finding all those deals, or even driving to the separate stores if they do.  I know there were times growing up we didn’t have access even to a car.
  • I have had the chance to talk to more than 100 people about hunger in our community.
  • A lot of memories have re-surfaced of my childhood, that’s always fun…
  • Cooking together, shopping, budgeting, looking for deals, that in and of itself is a good way to do something together as a family.
  • It is an adjustment not to have enough money to go have a coffee with coworkers in the morning, or to join a lunch with friends, and a good reminder that many people do have to make those choices and tradeoffs…it can be embarrassing to be in that situation.
  • I found out my son couldn’t open a can 🙂  This has now been remedied…

So even if it is just for a week, and certainly doesn’t have the stress associated with it as if it were real life, I think this is a good exercise to take part in. Hopefully everyone is learning or appreciating even more than I am and thinking about what they can do personally to end hunger…real hunger.

So good job UnitedWayKC on the #HungerChallenge, and thanks for sponsoring and raising awareness.