Hunger Challenge – Days 1 and 2
By Assemblymember Mariko Yamada
Day 1Skeptics have asked me, “Why are you doing this—AGAIN?”…
The reasons are simple: hunger in America persists in the richest and most powerful nation on earth. And the assault on feeding Americans—by cutting the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $20 Billion over the next ten years has been eloquently questioned by none other than Paul Krugman in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/opinion/from-the-mouths-of-babes.html?_r=0
Going into this, my fifth annual Hunger Challenge, I have learned “survival shopping”, looking for sales and engaging in couponing. This year’s weekly budget of $24.90 is actually a relief over prior years when the daily amount was just a little over $3 per day. For me, coffee is the foundation of my food pyramid, and in earlier challenges, I had to forewarn my co-workers that I would be “off the juice” for five days since coffee was unaffordable. Fortunately, this year, the daily budget of $4.98 couple with a coffee sale and a $2.00 off coupon snagged me a 1-pound bag of storebrand French Vanilla ground coffee.
I am pleased to once again partner with Food Banks in my district, to call attention to hunger amidst plenty during June, Hunger Awareness Month. Remember that many of the long-term unemployed, children, students, and seniors, regularly face food insecurity. For me today, my thermos of home-brewed coffee, along with a grilled cheese sandwich on wheat bread and an overripe banana is food that will carry me through to dinnertime.
With no Monday evening meetings, I was able to focus on cooking for the week. Usually, dinner is a fast-grab from among two or three favorite restaurants, a luxury out-of-reach for most CalFresh recipients (although there IS a little-known restaurant program: http://www.snaprmp.org/).
I boiled the package of chicken, prepared the whole box of angel hair pasta (which turned out to be a mistake—too much food!), and divided the noodles in half to prepare the week’s dinner of spaghetti with tomato-basil pasta sauce, and chicken chow mein with zucchini. Had a glass of orange juice to quell the low-blood sugar feeling I had while cooking. I had a good serving of vegetarian and a piece of American cheese spaghetti and a couple slices of wheat bread for dinner, and felt full. The CalFresh budget did not allow for one of my other favorite foods—dessert. I did miss my usual sweet ending of my evening meal.
Lunch today was a serving of the other pasta dish—chicken/zucchini chow mein. Brought a blueberry yogurt for dessert J No breakfast today—my habit anyway. Drank most of my thermos-full of home-brewed coffee. Have had a full day of Senate committee bill presentation, water hearing and Caucus lunch (where those who knew me from previous sessions understood what I was up to by bringing my lunch) and will head to Veterans Affairs Committee this afternoon and a (non-eating, non-drinking) reception tonight hosted by the Latino Legislative Caucus.
Day 3 tomorrow—this year seems easier than all previous years!