A Spiritual Journey into SNAP

One family's experiment living on a food-stamp budget

Score Card—Week 4

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We have completed our fourth week of the Lenten SNAP Challenge: trying to eat—hopefully even eat well—on $147 per week for our family of four. That’s the maximum food stamp benefit for a family of four in our region.  We are now more than half way through our journey. How did we do?

This week we went $25.51 over budget!  Holy guacamole—what happened?  Well, in part, guacamole.  Read on.

Budget buster #1 was a two-birthday week. Both David and I both turned 50 during this fourth week of the SNAP Lenten Challenge. It has always been our family’s custom to have a special dinner for birthdays. For mine, I made a root veggie stew composed mostly of things we got from the food bank.  Apparently rutabagas, onions, bell peppers and carrots aren’t popular with the guests at the lunch program, but if you chop them all up, throw in some barley and cannellini beans it makes a stew that is absolutely irresistible to the ten-and-under crowd.  It might not have been my first choice of birthday dinners, but it was Sunday—House Church day—and meals are vegan during Lent.  The budget killer was the blueberry pie that I requested for my birthday dessert: $17.98 for fresh blueberries from Mexico.  Not only were these just not okay with the budget but environmentally, what was I thinking!  I suggested frozen, but the pie maker rejected the idea.  And we didn’t pick last summer so the freezer had nothing to offer.  For his birthday, David requested a pork and udon recipe, including chocolate pie for dessert.  That meal was $27.48, mostly going to for the organic piggy.  Leftovers stretched to lunch and after-school snack for the girls, but still—that was a pricey meal for a food stamp family.

Budget buster #2:  We served dinner for the EfM crowd again this week at a total of $34 or $5.67 per person attending.  Not bad, really.  And we had the bonus of another meal for the four of us from the leftovers.  But added together, these little extravagances pushed us well over our budget for the week.  And guacamole ($10.48 including chips) was the appetizer.  It turns out this is a pretty economical and popular choice with our group.  Appetizers are expensive.

And finally, budget buster #3 was the coffee hour/snack time for the Department of Geoscience this week that we hosted at $22.59.  This may seem pretty unnecessary; perhaps I should step aside from this service for Lent.  But it is a long-term ministry of building back some deeply fractured relationships and that’s who we want to be.  It is well worth the price but it did contribute to trashing our budget.

I’m hopeful to do much better in the coming week.  My fellow travelers in EfM will feed me.  Someone else is hosting the GEO Coffee.  And no more treats for anyone!  Although we still have a piece of cake left in the fridge that was gifted by our dear friend Alaina in honor of our birthdays.  So, okay!

A small treat for everyone!  Let’s not lose sight of the culture of abundance.

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