The Non-Consumer Advocate blog to try the Food Stamp Challenge. The basic premise is that you attempt to live for one month on what a family of your size would receive in food stamps. Katy lives in Oregon, but she has two sons just slightly older than my kids and one husband, so I figure the $400 a month figure she was working with should be comparable to what we'd get in the state of Ohio. To make this a little more palatable to my fast food-addicted children, I told them about the Grayson County Humane Society in Leitchfield, Kentucky and their Grayson Angels program. This is a small, rural shelter, always short on funds and held together by dedicated volunteers. A member of the Grayson Angels pledges to donate $1 per day for the year. Given that we are totally gluttonous and spoiled human beings in my household, quick calculations revealed that if we stuck to the Food Stamp Challenge for one month, we could save more than enough money to fund ourselves as Grayson Angels for the year. It worked beautifully, no one died of trans fat-withdrawal, and the shelter got its money. While my children have many faults, one of their redeeming qualities is a love for animals, so I knew I could get them on board for the Food Stamp Challenge this year.
In addition to funding a charitable donation, my hope for the challenge was to show my children how lucky they are in their normal lives. I always feel a little obnoxious doing this challenge, as if it's some great sacrifice for us to do without for one month when some families are living this way all year long. It's a little like spending a week in a wheelchair to understand what it's like to be disabled. I still wouldn't truly understand because I would spend that week knowing that in seven days I would indeed be standing up again. In the same way, we know that on February 1st we can head down to the nearest McDonald's and stuff ourselves with fries. It makes me feel like a bit of a fraud, but I figure it's for a good cause.
We're just over three weeks into the 2012 Food Stamp Challenge and things are not going so hot. We got off to a bad start when we tried to soothe The Professor's post-Christmas/back-to-school depression by taking him to see the latest Sherlock movie on January 2. We very rarely go to an actual theater, so when we do I let the kids get something from the snack bar. Needless to say, I could have bought us all Taco Bell dinners for the cost of The Professor's Pepsi and king size box of candy. We also hit a few potholes in the form of strep throat and colds. The Vulcan was the only one who came through completely unscathed. I, on the other hand, got both this month, and The Vulcan doesn't appreciate me cooking him food when I'm ill. In fact, he avoids all of us when we're sick, appearing only to get a drink from the kitchen and then making a hasty exit with his shirt collar pulled over his nose and mouth like a doctor's mask. (I get my revenge by chasing after him, pretending to heave big, germy breaths his way. Makes me feel better just to see the frantic look in his eyes as he races for the stairs.) As a result, there were more fast food meals than would normally fall into my personal guidelines for this challenge.
Our main goal is to stay under $400. In reality, my goal is to spend $365 less than my average monthly grocery bill last year. Given the embarrassingly large amounts we spent on food most months, this goal is totally doable. To add a little extra incentive, anything we save over the $365 will go to Recycled Doggies, a fabulous rescue group in the Cincinnati area. (Our beloved St. Jimmi came from them.) They recently took in an adorable dog named Liberty who had been hit by a car and horribly injured. She was taken to a shelter by her owners who couldn't afford vet care and luckily the shelter contacted Recycled Doggies. She's a beautiful black dog, less than a year old, but her injuries required a tremendous amount of treatment. Last I heard the bills topped $5,500, so I figure they can use all the donations they can get.
If you'd like more information on the Grayson County Humane Society and their Grayson Angels program, please click here. If you'd like more information on how you can help Liberty, please see the Recycled Doggies Chip-In link here.
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