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Food Stamp Challenge: Day 2

November 26, 2012 | Repairing the World


?Submitted by Jacob Buchdahl

Free snacks in my office, which I cannot eat

The obvious “challenge” in this food stamp experience is budgetary: $1.50 per meal is substantially less than, for example, the cost of a Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich—or even a cup of coffee there, for that matter.  Around my midtown office, even the relatively inexpensive places don’t provide any conforming lunch options. 

So the first lesson that sinks in is that I have to eat at home, or eat foods prepared at home. And that leads to a second, less obvious challenge, which is that of time (or maybe of help, depending on how one thinks about it): I have been relying entirely on the work of others to cook for me (yesterday’s cabbage soup, or tonight’s chili), and I’m not sure exactly how I’d be negotiating this week without that support, which is another luxury all in itself.  So far today I’ve repeated yesterday’s breakfast (corn flakes with banana) and made only a slight variation on yesterday’s lunch (peanut butter & jelly sandwich, an apple, some yogurt replacing yesterday’s soup). 

And the second lesson that sinks in for me is how I’ve failed to appreciate how many of the food choices that I make on a daily basis are truly luxuries: frilly post-workout drinks like coconut water; fresh berries; extravagant espresso beverages; and just about any afternoon snack I’d usually pick up without thinking. 

Similar to saying blessings before or after meals or observing kosher dietary restrictions, taking this food stamp challenge has caused me to think more about what I’m eating and appreciate abundance that I easily can take for granted.  And most of all, it’s given me a new-found understanding of just how close the safety net gets to the ground.

Read more clergy and congregant posts about this challenge

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