2012 Hunger Challenge Day 5: Chickening Out

I’m taking the San Francisco Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge for the fourth year – trying to feed my husband (the Bottomless Pit) and myself for just $4.72 each per day. Today was the day. I’d planned to use some of our remaining Hunger Challenge funds to buy a whole, free-range chicken, on sale at our local market for $1.99/lb. I’d scouted earlier in the week, and the person behind the meat counter had told me the chickens were running about 3 lbs. Perfect. $6 was almost exactly what I could afford to spend. So this evening I stopped by, pointed to a bird and asked the woman to weigh it for me. Just over 4 lbs – but way over my budget. “Hmm, that one’s too big,” I said, offering no explanation, and asked her to weigh another one. Just under 4 lbs, but still way over my budget.

Like eggs, the best-laid plans often crack.

“Thanks, but that’s not going to work,” I told her. “I’m going to have to do something else.” It was a weird moment, made even weirder by the fact that I turned and walked out of the store. A quick glance had told me that I couldn’t afford four decent portions (what I’d intended to get from the chicken) of anything in the case. I had just experienced a little of what people living in poverty must come up against all the time. I could have fought my way through rush-hour traffic to a Trader Joe’s or Safeway store and probably found something meaty within my budget. But I was tired and frustrated and didn’t feel like dealing with it. And if I’d had kids at home, I certainly couldn’t have chased all over town looking for a bargain – even if I owned a car. So, it’s more pasta again tonight. As has been the case the past three years, Thursday is definitely the toughest day of the Hunger Challenge. Not helped by little surprises like the Bottomless Pit mentioning as he darted out the door this morning, “I ate a banana – hope that’s OK!” Um, no. You were only supposed to have half a banana per day.

Combo leftover pasta. Again.

Imagine if you had a teenaged boy in the house and were on food stamps! That’s the case with this food bank client. (For more real client stories, go here.) As with many of those who take the Hunger Challenge hoping to gain a little understanding about what it’s like to live on a food stamp budget, I’ve also ended up being very thankful for my life – and very aware of all I take for granted. I’m indeed lucky – except with chickens. GET INVOLVED! ♥ Take the Hunger Challenge yourself. Sign up here. ♥ Read blogs by people taking the Hunger Challenge. There’s a blogroll here. ♥ Follow the Hunger Challengers on Twitter. There’s a listing here, or search for the hashtag #HungerChallenge. ♥ Learn more about the San Francisco Food Bank – and make a donation. For every $1 donated the food bank can supply hungry people with $6 worth of food! ♥ Follow the San Francisco Food Bank on Twitter or visit their Facebook page to see how they’re fighting hunger every day.

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