Monday, May 4, 2015

Food Stamps Challenge, Canadian Edition: Day

I'm finally finished! (And I beat Gwyneth!)

Weight: 145 (down 3 pounds)

Breakfast: Piece of frozen pizza, 2 pieces of toast (with butter and peanut butter) and a banana
Lunch: 3 little cracker samples (free), granola bar
Snack: Cookie
Dinner: Vegetable soup, toast with peanut butter

I had quite the day.  I was asked to stay and work 3.5 hours of overtime at work when I was originally going to work a 5 hour shift; 8.5 hours altogether.  However, I only packed a granola bar and a cookie in my lunch which would then have to last me 8.5 hours.  I really wanted more hours, so I took it, but I was unsure of how well I would do on that amount of food, deciding that I would have one snack on my first break and the other snack on my next break.  I ended up sort of cheating and going to the free sample stand which amounted to 3 little crackers but I'll take what I can get.  I don't know if it's cheating since it's free and it wasn't very much food.

Later, the store got extremely busy, the supervisor got sick and couldn't continue her shift and it was a stressful shift with the store sorely understaffed.  With all the chaos and the need to focus on being as efficient as possible, I must have had an adrenaline rush because I did not feel hungry at all throughout my shift but I ate because I felt that I needed to.  All in all, it was a weird day and I relaxed with dinner and reading in the bath.

And now for the moment of truth.  What is left over?  Well, obviously you already know because you probably skimmed the text to look at the picture.

My leftovers:

For $35 in one week, I'd say that I did pretty well.  But now, let's think: could this feed another person?  My brothers or my dad, all around 6 feet tall and 2 of them overweight?  My guess is that this food would provide 11 very modest meals and a lot of milk and cookie snacks.  That would last a person 4 days at the most.  So, no, I do not think SNAP is feasible for more than one person and even then it is definitely a tight budget.  Maybe I didn't budget correctly and maybe with some adjustments I could have fed two, but I find it unlikely that it would feed 3 or more people.  I won't rule it out; there are very cheap cuts of meat and packages of produce out there, but, to me, it doesn't seem possible.  I believe that it's possible that I could still survive on this budget for one person if I were also buying toiletries and toilet paper but it wouldn't be easy.

What did I learn from this? 
- Living on a food budget requires very careful planning; no impulse buying or giving in to cravings. 
- I have a better understanding of food budgeting.
- If I want to do overtime at work while under a tight budget like this, I need to pack extra food just in case.  
- From an overweight person's perspective, I am eating too much.  You don't need that much food to feel full.  
- PC Spinach pizza is awful and I will not buy it again.
- It is possible for one person to live on $35/week, $140 a month of food but it requires discipline and planning.  It is extremely difficult for 2 or more people to live on $35/week, $140/month.
- Coffee is addictive and the withdrawal is not fun but it's over in a couple days.
- And, most importantly, SNAP (Food Stamps) desperately needs more funding...

Now that the challenge is over, since it's past midnight and I've had all my meals, I feel like I'm stepping into a fantasy world with so many flavours that includes coffee, beer, wine, Parmesan, sour cream... (and I wonder why I'm still fat)

But I'm being melodramatic.  Thousands, maybe millions of Americans (and Canadians and other nationalities that do not have the SNAP program) do this for a good portion of their lives.  I will be donating to a local food bank in my community now that the challenge is done.  Since I'm on the internet, I'm not sure whether I should say that I donated or not since I am tooting my own horn if I tell people, but I'm just doing this for attention if I did the challenge without people knowing that I donated.  Maybe I'll leave it at this: Don't worry.  I'm terrible.  I realize that donating to a food bank or a charitable organization benefiting the homeless or the poor does not make me any more special or moral than anyone else. 

And with that, I will say thank you for reading (if anyone bothered to)!

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