During the month of October, I participated in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, trying out some of the wonderful vegan dishes prepared by chefs in local restaurants.
In a few days, I'm going to participate in a different kind of challenge: the 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge. For seven days, I will eat food that costs only as much as the average food stamp recipient receives in Sacramento County, which is $34.30 per week.
The 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge is a project of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, which has posted the following guidelines:
1. Spend no more than $4.90 per day, per person. This includes both food and beverage.
2. During the Challenge, try to only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food you already own (this does not include spices and condiments) unless you factor the cost of that food into your daily budget.
3. Avoid accepting free food or beverages from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.
Why am I participating in this challenge? There are three reasons:
1. Solidarity with people who are living in poverty. This challenge will help draw attention to the difficulties faced by people whose current financial circumstances have caused them to seek government assistance to provide food for themselves and their families.
2. To prove to those who think it costs a lot of money to go vegan that adopting a vegan diet doesn't have to be an expensive undertaking.
3. To prove to myself that I can do it.
The dates of the 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge are November 9th through 15th. However, I have a prior dinner commitment on the night of November 15th, so I have scheduled my personal challenge to take place between November 8th and 14th instead.
Over the weekend, I created my meal plan and went shopping for the groceries I'll be eating for this challenge. Here's what I bought:
At Dollar Tree, I spent $16 on the following items:
• A 16 oz. carton of quick oats
• A 26.5 oz. can of mushroom pasta sauce
• A box of 80 tea bags
• A package of 6 packs of raisins
• A pound of spaghetti
• A pound of small pasta shells
• A 24 oz. package of white rice
• 2 10-oz. cans of diced tomatoes and green chilies
• An 8.5 oz. bottle of a soybean/olive oil blend
• A 12 oz. package of dried pinto beans
• A 10-oz. jar of peanut butter
• A salt and pepper set
• A 3 oz. jar of chili powder
• A 1.76 oz. jar of crushed red pepper
• An 8 oz. jar of cinnamon sugar
At the farmer's market under the freeway at 8th and W, I spent $11 on the following items:
• 4 apples
• 4 potatoes
• 3 yams
• 2 zucchini
• 2 tomatoes
• 1 onion
• 1 garlic bulb
• 1 green bell pepper
At Sprouts, I spent $6.52 on the following items:
• A package of celery
• 2 lemons
• 3 oranges
• A head of green cabbage
• 4 carrots
• A 32-oz. carton of vanilla rice milk
I have 78 cents left from my $34.30.
I plan to blog about this experience every day during the week that I'm participating in this challenge, so be sure to check back beginning November 8th to find out what I'm eating. I'll also share any observations and insights that I may have as a result of this experience. If you're interested in participating in the 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge, you can sign up at https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/events/327970127302175/.