Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Food Stamp Challenge -- Day Seven
"Simplify, simplify," read the words on the mug in the picture of my breakfast on Day Seven of the Food Stamp Challenge. This advice, offered by Henry David Thoreau in his immortal classic Walden, may represent a survival strategy to those who are actually dependent on food stamps. But to the rest of us, it should serve as a reminder that there's a price to be paid for our excesses, and that price will be paid, not only by us, but by future generations as well. My decision to switch to a vegan diet ten years ago was based in large part on the connection between meat consumption and world hunger. Participating in the Food Stamp Challenge helped to remind me that hunger is not just a global issue, but a local concern as well.
This message is especially significant as Thanksgiving approaches. During the month when we express gratitude for all of our blessings, it's a good time to reflect on those in our region who experience hunger on a regular basis. According to an article in the February 23, 2012, edition of the Sacramento News and Review, approximately 178,000 Sacramentans received CalFresh benefits in 2010. And as hard as it may be for people to feed themselves and their families on their minimal food stamp allowance, there are tens of thousands of people in Sacramento who don't even have the safety net of food stamps.
There are many ways that those of us who don't have to worry about hunger can help those who do. The most obvious way to help is to donate food or money to your local food bank. Two of my favorite food banks are:
River City Food Bank -- http://www.rivercityfoodbank.org/. To make it even easier to donate food, River City Food Bank has partnered with Goodwill Industries so that each Goodwill Xpress location in the Sacramento region also has a bin where people can drop off food for the food bank. And if you'd like to know which nonperishable food items from their wish list are on sale at your local grocery store, River City Food Bank has a list of sale items, updated twice weekly, at the following link: http://www.rivercityfoodbank.org/docs/RCFB_Weekly_Sales.pdf. They've also started a new program called Virtual Food Drive so that you can shop online for groceries to donate. Check it out at https://secure.rivercityfoodbank.org/.
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services -- http://www.sacramentofoodbank.org/. Registration is open for their Run to Feed the Hungry, which takes place each year on Thanksgiving morning. Other ways to donate to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services can be found at http://www.sacramentofoodbank.org/support/donate.html.
I'll be writing a check to Alchemist Community Development Corporation (http://www.alchemistcdc.org/) to help them as they continue to find ways to make fresh, local produce available to low-income families. Whether by making it possible for people to shop at the farmers' market using their CalFresh benefits, setting up farm stands in low-income neighborhoods, or encouraging convenience stores and corner markets to offer fresh produce, Alchemist CDC is always working to put healthier foods on everyone's tables. And to cap off my participation in the 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge, I'll be attending an Alchemist CDC fundraiser tomorrow night, featuring a six-course vegan dinner prepared by traveling vegan chef Joshua Ploeg. It will be a welcome change after seven days of my own cooking!
At this point, the recitation of what I ate today is pretty anticlimactic, since I'm mostly finishing up leftovers. But to round out the week, here's what I had:
My breakfast, shown above, was rice with vanilla rice milk and cinnamon sugar, apple slices, and tea with lemon.
For lunch, I had leftover pasta with mushroom sauce, finished off the last of my oranges, and ate my last carrot. (Wow, that's a really orange lunch!) To drink, I had iced tea with my last lemon wedge.
Dinner was my last potato, baked and stuff with leftover chili, the last of my cabbage, sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes, and the last of my apples. Once again, my beverage was ice water.
Thanks to everyone who has followed my experiences this week. Monday, Sacramento Vegan will return to its regular function, informing vegans what menu options are available to them in local non-vegan restaurants.