Wow! If you go to this web page and leave a comment, Tyson Foods will donate 100 pounds of chicken and other protein-rich food to a Bay Area food bank – up to 200,000 pounds total. It all happened because of the Hunger Challenge!
Today I went to a buffet. I used to think of it as the Alemany Farmers Market, but today I realized it was a gigantic smorgasbord of free samples. Since a low-income person could easily come here to graze, I didn’t feel like I was breaking the Hunger Challenge rules, which limit me to just $3 a day for all my food.
In the past, while browsing the farmers market, I only sampled items I was interested in buying; today, I snacked at will, without guilt or shame – peach slice, strawberry, dried French plum, tomato slice. Amazing how five days of going hungry can also starve your inhibitions.
My husband, Paul, and I were doing our produce shopping for the upcoming week. But it was totally surreal knowing I wouldn’t be able to actually eat the food I was purchasing for another two days – until after the Challenge was over. As I squeezed Cherokee tomatoes, I realized I’d been missing the sensuousness of fresh produce, confined as I’ve been to a pear a day and a serving of broccoli.
Back home, I analyzed my remaining stash of cooked whole-grain spaghetti and decided I had enough extra to make a version of this spaghetti frittata recipe that Hunger Challenger Vanessa Barrington created. I was missing a few ingredients, but decided to give it a go. I sautéed two diced carrots and a clove of garlic in some bacon grease (my secret flavor weapon), then threw in some spaghetti and added 4 beaten eggs. I had enough food volume to split the result with Paul (who would probably eat a shoe if you sautéed it in bacon grease). He decided it should be called Hakuna Fritata, because the spaghetti resembled a lion’s mane. “Chow mane,” I added. Food deprivation has made me slightly giddy, too. My lunch, $.59.
I sliced up and macerated a mountain of strawberries for my post-Challenge week, not popping a single one in my mouth. I was feeling sooo virtuous. But again, I started thinking about the ill-paid kitchen staff at restaurants all over town. They must handle ingredients every day, week in, week out, that they could never afford to eat at home.
For dinner, I had enough ragù and spaghetti to feed both of us – but by my calculation there should have been three portions left and there were actually only two. I don’t know what happened, because I measured the entire batch the night I made it, and there were almost exactly 8 cups. Somehow it turned into 7 cups. If I’d been counting on that last cup, I would have gotten a rude surprise. Just another reminder that, in the world of the poor, there is no room for mistakes or miscalculations.
“You know, you could have some heirloom tomatoes with your dinner,” I said to Paul.
“I wouldn’t eat those without you!” he replied, melting my heart. “But I might have some wine,” he added, freezing it right back up again.
Total for the day: $2.77. If I were doing another week of the Hunger Challenge, this would have been the day I’d go grocery shopping. My arduous shopping experience of a week ago makes me really glad I’m going to be done tomorrow. It’s the hardest part of eating for just $21. You seal your fate for a week, living for better or worse on the choices you make.
It’s hard to imagine going through another cycle of scanning the ads, shopping, calculating, re-calculating, putting things back and finally hoping the collection of groceries I ended up with will turn into decent meals. It might eventually get easier, but not much. How can people do it month after month? How long before I would just give up and go to McDonald’s for a $1 meal? Or snap and buy something expensive that I craved, even if it meant I wouldn’t eat for two days? Or simply break into tears in the middle of a grocery aisle?
♥ Learn about the San Francisco Food Bank.
♥ Read the blogs of people taking the Hunger Challenge. There’s a blogroll here.
♥ Donate and receive a special thank you gift!
1. Click on donate to go to the donation page.
2. Fill out the necessary info and make a donation of $50 or more.
3. About 2/3 of the way down the form, look for a header that says, “Food Drive/Event Information (not required)”
4. Use the drop-down box to select “Bloggers Hunger Challenge,” so we’ll know you are participating.
5. Be one of the first 12 people to donate $50 or more and you’ll receive a brand new free cookbook as a thank-you.