I learned about the Hunger Challenge from Alanna Kellogg at BlogHer. I followed last year's Congressional Food Stamp Challenge with great interest. Given that I'm coming off of 3 weeks of conferencing the timing is perfect for me to try this challenge. I already give substantially to both a local food bank and to national anti-hunger efforts so I think it will good for me to raise my awareness through action. I look forward to having a deeper sensitivity to the problem and to sharing my experience through blogging.
I shopped today at three different grocery stores (which already makes my experience different from the poor). Although they are each within a reasonable walking/bus distance from my home (< 2 miles), I was able to drive to each and spread my purchases around to maximize my $21. In some ways it is easier to do this a single person (I can cater solely to my tastes & the absolute cost of single servings is lower than larger sizes) and in some ways harder (I lose the economies of scale from larger sizes which often translate to a higher upfront cost but lower per serving costs & for many things I have to buy more than I can eat in a week thus making my $21 spend less efficient). Also I made up a few rules/allowances for myself. The stores I shopped at were, as I mentioned, a distance from my home that I could have reached without a car (though I would have limited myself to one), I will use some items that I have on hand that I received for free. And I did not purchase spices or seasonings though I could have purchased them in bulk.
I spent $20.40 (and I will attempt to blow the remaining sixty cents on an onion). I purchased no meat/tofu (though one store I shopped at sells tofu for 5 blocks for $1 and I almost added a block). I bought juice, bread, fruit (bananas & apples), yogurt, eggs, peanut butter, pasta, packaged tomatoes, frozen spinach, a tiny bit of bulk rice & beans (surprisingly organic was cheaper than conventional), fresh baby bok choy, green onions and the mack daddy of cheap and unhealthy eating, ramen noodles. With more careful planning I could have maximized my use of bulk bins and increased the variety of my choices.
I plan to eat smoothies for breakfast (juice, fruit, yogurt), ramen noodles doctored with eggs and veggies for lunch, toast with peanut butter for a snack and pasta or beans & rice plus spinach for dinner. My goal was to balance some of the carb-tastic cheap food with protein & veggies. I'll use a free package of coffee for my caffeine this week. I also got a package of instant mashed potatoes courtesy of my shopper card from Safeway which might come in handy if I run out of food. And, I have some coupons for free fancy juice because I purchased a bottle that had gone bad so I can get several protein shakes if need be.
I'll post a daily menu starting tomorrow. I hope you'll follow along and consider taking the challenge yourself or making a donation to either the San Francisco Food Bank or you local hunger fighting group of choice.