food we ate, april 4 til now

Well,honestly – this isn’t ALL the food we ate. I forget to take pictures or I’m too tired or my house is chaosville. Most meals were  made w/ things we got at the food pantry 2 weeks ago . We did do minor grocery shopping for basics. I had two crying meltdowns that were food related – one because the ground beef from the food pantry was spoiled and the other because bread dough (honey wheat oat…the one I make the most) didn’t rise.

About the crying – I never cry. Maybe once or twice a year. The advantage to this is that people who know me know that when I’m crying, it’s super important. Lately? I cry over every damn thing. Dearest says, “It must be hormones.” And I said, “No, I think this is who I am now.” To his credit, he didn’t even flinch. I notice this has been a gradual thing as I’m getting older. I cry if something is impossibly cute or beautiful or horribly sad and tragic. Bread dough not rising and spoiled meat  are probably not the most tragic things but it was in my world on the days it happened.

Anyway…on to the food.

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This was something I’m calling Loaded Potato Casserole. I diced potatoes, rinsed them, then coated them in a packet of “chili seasoning” that I found in the pantry. I added a can of pinto beans and baked the whole thing for 25 minutes or so. I threw cheese on at the end. The chives on top are super fresh. I harvested them from the garden…. the day after we got 6 inches of snow.

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Poor chives. They were looking pretty sad after the snow but have bounced back since.

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Basic spaghetti loaded with chunky onion tomato sauce. This was where I cried. I wanted to make meatballs but the ground beef wasn’t good. I DON’T EVEN LIKE MEAT. What the hell?

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I’m calling this one Eggroll Bowl. I guess it’s “Deconstructed Eggroll” but ugh, hipsters and their deconstructed ethnic foods. What happened here was I thought I had 2 packages of eggroll wrappers so I went ahead and made eggroll filling before realizing there were no eggroll wrappers. No crying over this for whatever reason. I just cooked it and put it in bowls over rice.Hubby had made a pork roast for a fantasy baseball thing he went to and I put some of the leftover pork in the mix.

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“Baja Fish Tacos”. This was a taco meal kit from the food pantry. Well, the seasoning and tortillas was. The fish was from the food pantry,too. The fish we get there is frozen pollock and it’s not terrible. I’ve found it’s ideal for things like tacos or sandwiches.

The tomatoes and lettuce are from this tiny produce shop near us. It’s literally in an addition on this man’s house on one of the more traveled back roads here. His prices are great and most things are pretty local. He also has eggs, both local small farm and more factory farmed. The latter were reduced this week because he had too many so we picked up several cartons for 75 cents each. We’ve been eating a lot of breakfast-for-dinner meals.

And we still have a ton of these frozen pancakes left. When I first served them, my littlest thought I was handing him a plate of small cookies. Yeah, they do look like that.

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One of the most memorable things I made recently that I didn’t take pics of was Jim Lahey’s Potato Pizza .Because potatoes, which we have a lot of right now.
I loved it but I got mixed reactions from the rest of the family.

“It’s …..interesting.”- Husband

“I just don’t know how I feel about this.”- 15 yr old

“Don’t call it pizza. It has no sauce.” -11 yr old

“Nope.”- 5 yr old

I wish my other kids had been home. I think they would have appreciated it.

My 11 year old is an incredibly picky eater (sensory issues. No, “if he’s hungry enough,he’ll eat” doesn’t quite work here) . We accidentally discovered that he loves those stupid chunky campbell’s soups – Loaded Baked Potato,specifically. I HATE buying soap in a can because I can make it so cheaply at home. I have tried feeding him various homemade potato soups and he’s rejected most. FINALLY, I made one this past week that he loved. Bye, campbell’s chunky soup.

Used homemade broth for it,of course.
I don’t remember what I did with that chicken. Garlicked and baked,maybe?
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I still have a bazillion carrots to use. I’ll get on that this week.
I’m sure it’ll also still be pretty potato intensive.


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This week at the food pantry

We missed going to the food pantry in March entirely. The one here is only twice a month and I think we were sick the one day and something else was happening on the other. Even though we restocked quite a bit of staples and did some good grocery shopping with Taxmas money, we still really needed to go yesterday.

This week there was quite a lot of produce that had been donated that needed to go (disadvantage of a bi monthy pantry…anything fresh has to be gone that day or it’s going to waste) so volunteers kept trying to get me to take more. Lots of  white and sweet potatoes,carrots,apples. A few oranges. I had just bought a 50 lb bag of potatoes a couple of weeks ago and 5 lbs of carrots (reminder: my weird food quirk is that the only veg I HATE is carrots). I see many potato dishes in my future.

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They also had several large shipping boxes of frozen microwave pancakes and frozen cookie dough. They gave us a whole box of the pancakes because there was no room in their freezers. Glad we have the upright freezer. We also took the cookie dough…hearts for Valentine’s Day. Exp March 22, which I’m sure is still ok but we’ll see. I will live if we have to toss the cookie dough but it would be a nice treat for the kiddos.

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We also got frozen fish & ground beef, some canned beans and fruit, spaghetti sauce,rice,pasta,cornmeal,juice, 3 blocks of mozzarella, and Ghiradelli chocolate -dark chocolate and sea salt with caramel. Oh,and a taco meal kit. Some of the canned food was expired in 2014. They might be iffy but some food still is fine after that date. I’ll see what happens when I open it.

I think that’s it. The day after we go to the food pantry I usually start putting together the week’s meal plan around what we got. Looks like fish tacos, spaghetti & meatballs, something rice and beans oriented for sure. Not immediately clear on the rest.

 


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The food people get from the food bank

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to tell me what they get from their food bank. I got hundreds of answers and what I heard was exactly as I expected but maybe not what a lot of people would expect?

And that was absolutely why I wanted to do this post.

I’ve been writing about food insecurity for long enough to have encountered recurring conversations and remarks. I would say it’s a common occurrence to see a person say they don’t have enough food to eat and the overwhelming response they get is, “Go to your local food bank.”. The advice might be coming from someone who thinks this is helpful advice but they’ve never been to a food bank themselves OR they have used food banks before and they’re experience has been excellent. “Excellent” is not what most people would describe their experience as and it’s also important for people to understand that sometimes food banks are not accessible for everyone. But mostly, I want people to understand the limited capacity of what “go to the food bank” might mean for someone.
I want to clarify here that this is in no way a diss to food banks. Food banks are an incredibly valuable asset. The people who manage and volunteers at food banks are tirelessly compassionate and caring people. They want people to get enough food and they would rather it be good food. As more states impose restrictions on SNAP and limit who can get it, food banks are crucial but as the number of people who need them increases, the ability to truly help people decreases. You’re hearing from GOP candidates that the best thing we can do for “the poor” is to just get rid of the SNAP program altogether on the federal level and let the states decide how to allocate money for safety net programs. This will have a massive impact on already struggling states where food banks are maxed out on their helping potential.

Right now there are people who are trying to feed themselves exclusively from food banks. These people usually are just over the limit to qualify for SNAP (I keep telling ya’ll…SNAP works exactly how it should and needs to be expanded). Some people do get SNAP but the amount is small. People will sometimes have to go to several food banks in their area to make it work. Two people told me they couldn’t use the food bank where they live because the eligibility is based on whether or not you qualify for SNAP and they didn’t. Some food pantries do not deliver and people without transportation can’t make it there.

Produce is rare for some,especially in the winter months. This is an important point for foodists to take note of. If you’re advising poor people that it’s easy to eat healthy, you need to be aware that their options are limited. 

 

[in photo: bag of apples,bag of white potatoes,3 onions,1 cabbage, 5lbs wheat flour, 5lbs cake mix base, red thai curry seasoning,shelf stable milk,1 lb macaroni,2 lbs dried lentils,2 cans black beans,1 can chickpeas,1 can blackeyed peas,1 can chili beans, 1 can kidney beans,2lbs white rice,1 lb brown rice,2 cans pineapple,2 cans mandarin oranges,2 cans fruit cocktail,1 can peaches,1 can tuna,2 cans cream of mushroom soup,juice,1 lb pasta,1.5 lb egg noodles,2 lbs ground turkey,1 lb hot dogs,veggie chips, contact lens solution,1 loaf of sourdough bread]

This is what we brought home last Monday from our food pantry. Our’s is a “self serve” pantry and clients get to choose what they want. The amounts are based on a point system for family size. These guidelines are supposed to be a 3-day supply of food per person. This food pantry is open twice a month. What’s available changes.

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Sorry this photo is blurry but I think you can get the idea. When we go in, we take the card with our family size on it (6 that week because 1 kid went back to college). On the tables, the food is labeled with points. Canned food is usually 1 pt, as are grains. Meats are more….I think the ground turkey was 4 pts.  I know a bag of chicken is the costliest at 10 pts. Some items are only 1 per family (especially produce). Occasionally they have non-food items like toothpaste and those are always one per family.

From my perspective, this is pretty good. I have never had expired food. Nothing has ever made us sick. I can usually figure out ways to make meals from it , although sometimes it takes a lot of creativity and strict management of resources available.

So, that’s my experience with the one we use right now.

Here is some of what other people wanted to say about their experiences:

Amy, Central NY-   We have a food bank and a fresh food giveaway.  The fresh food giveaway is bread and produce, every once in a while dairy products or eggs.  The food bank is toilet paper, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruit, canned vegetables, mystery poptarts (They’re out of the box and the wrappers aren’t labelled, so you don’t know what kind they are until you get them home and open them.  I can’t have peanuts, but so far I have been lucky and have not gotten the peanut butter ones), pancake mix, syrup, tuna fish, rice, beans, lentils, and some vegetable soup that’s bizarrely nasty on its own but that can be put into a stew or something similar.  One time the food bank had body spray.  And they’ve had agave nectar a couple of times. 

Elizabeth, Southern PA -…my experience has been mixed. Some only give enough for two days for four.
I’ve had produce, frozen meat, canned meat ( once the chicken was bad and made my daughter ill). I’ve seen nothing but bags of stale soft pretzels at one place

Becky, Vermont (volunteer) – We purchased a walk in cooler for meat and other frozen foods. The amount you get depends on family size. For example, a family of 4 would get around 12 cans of veggies, 12 soup, 12 various types of macaroni, 12 tuna, 10 other meat cans. Two bags of rice, 4 frozen packs of meat…etc. You can come once a month. Fresh produce comes in from the food bank once a month. You would need to be in that week to get it. Eggs we have too.

Peggy-  Our foodbank also allows only one pickup a month. The only time I ever received meat was the first time that I went. I was turned away by the foodbank itself. A lady came out and told me that the woman in front of me was the last person they would serve. It was two days before Christmas, a snow storm was forecast. I had driven 15 miles to get there…I was nearly sure to almost starve before they opened back up in the new year. A kind woman gave me one of her family’s four boxes. It had a pork roast in it.

Brooke,MI-Last time my husband was off work…they asked for paycheck stubs…haven’t been back unfortunately. We did get all the staples. Never any fresh stuff. I can get baby food..diapers and wipes also. 

Chris, FL- I haven’t been back since we all had food poisoning. I know the bad food came from the food bank because it was the only food we had in the house.

Sheila, CT- I went to the FB today in the neighboring city. I”m allowed to go only once every 3 weeks since I no longer get SNAP, this is about it for me… I also go to the food bank in my town (once a month, when I am not scheduled for work I am able to go to this)  and the food truck is once a month  but I have Fibromyalfia and so can only go during good (not really bad) weather. Today at the FB in the neighboring city I was given: 

1 turkey breast frozen
1 chicken pot pie “use by 1/5/16….  (not so sure about this, it was not frozen, it was fresh. 9 days past it’s use by date and it has poultry in it.. : ( Not feeling like I will use this… 
1 box of cereal (contains almost- I am super allergic to…) 
large box of pound cake
box of stuffing mix
peanut butter
grape jelly
2 cans beans
1 can apricots
1 big can (28 oz) tomatoes
can of cream of mushroom soup
can of cream of chicken soup
2 boxes pasta
3 individual servings size coconut water mixed with juice
1 can of carrots
8 or 10 bagels
2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
trial size fabric softener.2 small cans Vienna sausages : ( 
2 dozen eggs
32 oz skim milk
16 oz chocolate milk
16 oz hazlenut meal- says it can be used in place of flour
So that is suppose to do me for 3 weeks, for 3 people…
Wendy, SLC,Utah- I live in a low income senior apartment building with 80 apartments. Once a month the food bank brings both state and federal boxes. Even the guy who has been distributing the food for many years does not know why some people get state and others federal. I get the state box. Each one is decorated by kids. Sometimes they are quite clever! Boxes were distributed yesterday. I got 4 cans of tuna, 2 small cans of salmon, 3 cans of cranberry juice concentrate, peanut butter, 2 cans fruit cocktail, a box of honey graham crackers, a loaf of oat bread and 6 strawberry Activia bottles. I gave back 2 cans of beef stew, a jug of grape juice and a brick of plastic cheese. We have a free table in the community room, so we can put what we don’t want on it and take something else. I took a bag of powdered milk and an old guy gave me his 6 bottles of Activa Everybody here wishes we got things like fresh meat, veggies or fruits!

Anon, MI- The pantry I used to volunteer at in the next town over  a few years ago
that was supported by several local churches, who did not have pantries
of their own and chose to consolidate resources.  The requirement was
residence in the local school district.  Customers were allowed one trip
a month and were given a general listing with quantities in various food
groups.  “Day close” produce and bakery was donated by the local grocery
store and could selected according to their needs/preferences.   Meat
was typically donated from a local butcher shop, frozen.  Never things
like butter, eggs, cheese or milk.   They always referred to it as
supplementing their customers groceries, not providing everything.
Extra trips were allowed on a case by case basis.  Customers grabbed a
shopping cart and chose their own items.  That worked soooo much better
than throwing stuff in a bag and handing it to them, not having a clue
about personal tastes.  A free clothing closet was available as well as
bill assistance.

From my recollection, I can’t find the actual lists on my computer.

1-2 people (then kinda double or triple or 3-4 and 5-6)  There were
allowances made depending on how deep the shelves were.

3 cans of veggies
2 cans soup
2 cans meat (usually tuna)
2 boxes mac & cheese, pasta,  hamburger helper, rice or potato mix
2 cans of fruit
1 can spaghetti sauce
1 box cereal
1 fruit juice
Baking supplies if we had them, if requested.
1 peanut butter  (but for instance an elderly woman might not use this
and could select something else)
1 jelly
2 personal care items which might include 1 laundry soap, 1 toilet paper
a package of frozen beef, pork or chicken (no fish ever)
1-2 Snack items, cake mix, pancake mix/syrup etc., jello, pudding were
usually available

Various things like canned or powdered milk were usually available if
requested.
Things like unusual vegetables or canned goods that had been donated
were free for the picking if they could be used, as well as dry beans.
Usually there were diapers, feminine hygiene products and formula
available.

I think we estimated $30-40 worth of product per trip for 1-2 people

Pam, Chattanooga-  The food Bank delivers to a local church once a month. We usually get a frozen 10 lb bag of chicken legs and thighs 5 or 10 lb bag of potatoes some fresh produce a couple of canned veggies some donated baked goods and some other random stuff. In late fall I received a huge amount of end of season produce. Carrots onions and peppers that are in my freezer. This month got a cabbage and a lb of older carrots that cooked up fine in a soup. Last month not much produce but peanut butter and cereal were appreciated.

Connie, Lake County ,Ohio- Most of the good pantries are run by churches, and usually the Catholic churches. They divide the community into sections. You have to go to your assigned church. The one we went to for several years, before our recent eviction/move was once every 30 days. Clients choice from each food group. Three day supply for however many people. For the two of us (adult son and I) we usually got 3 soups, a breakfast (pancake mix/syrup or cereal) two pasta, sauce, 3 canned fruit, pb&j, 3 canned veggies, tp, 1 snack, and something frozen- sometimes bagged entree, sometimes hot dogs, chicken, whatever they have. Other items depend on store donations- if they had close date yogurt/dairy, sometimes eggs. Lots of bakery donations, wry depends on how much they got- 1 or 2 bread, a couple cookie/cake/pastry. Occasional “fresh” produce, but lots of times borderline spoiled.

Current church seems to have more/better donations. We got quite a lot and also got milk, eggs, frozen leftovers from on site caterer, frozen meat, bread, dessert. They had a snack shelf, coffee/tea, baking products.

There is also a produce give away the first Saturday. Last time we got 10 lbs of potatoes, cabbage, onions, apples, watermelon, carrots, grapefruit, squash and some baked goods.

Another church does “taxables”. Last Saturday of the month. One month deodorant, shampoo, shaving supplies, along with toothpaste and TP. Next month laundry and dish soap with TP.

MJ, Southern IL- We don’t go all the time but sometimes we need to. Usually there is a frozen chicken, or a lb of hamburger, once we got a pork loin, pancake mix, syrup, a few cans of fruit and veg, soup, box of cereal, and spaghetti noodles and a can of tomato sauce. I am always grateful that I can cook. I can turn a sows ear into a silk purse. Sometimes there are out of date things. I always check things out well…we have also gotten sick from chicken. About twice a year they have a thing where they load your trunk. Once we got a case of frozen pineapple chunks…lol…it was summer so they were good frozen treats.

Most all of the food pantries here are run by churches…I don’t know of any town around that has a food bank.

Lydja- We haven’t been there for 6 months, but when we went it was usually this;
2lb bg macaroni
1 can veggies usually green beans
1 can soup
1small jar jelly
1 small jar peanut butter
4 to 5 day old full size cakes or pastries
4 loaves breads usually I was given more because most folk didn’t want the whole or multi grain healthy bread. I took all they would give and freeze.
Sometimes there would be a stick of margerine, or a pack of hot dogs or bologna, maybe a couple of rolls of toilet paper.
At Christmas or Thanksgiving the first 25 or so got hams or turkeys.
That food bank gave out 2x a month. There were others, but they were in bad areas, and only did evening hours.
I found an outlet store that sold dented, close to date food, I was able to make what they had into passable meals cheap.
There were too many folks in need,and not enough to go around.

Ramen Noodle Nation (great blog, btw) shared these links related to their food pantry excursions- Blog entries on food pantries and gave this update… The mobile food pantry has been better since these were written, last time got a bag of peppers, a pound of sliced ham, stale French bread, some ranch dressing, hummus and chips, lettuce and a few other things.
Found a second church community meal.
One church food pantry in November 2015, gave us frozen thanksgiving turkey breasts with corn, stuffing, noodles, a box of biscuit mix, cranberry, and soups. We got a similar box in December.
Meat seems to always be in short supply and since these were written Squawker can eat dairy if she has a glass of Lactase milk that day.

An, Minnesota-

I am a student-parent at a community college in Minnesota. I have a work-study position in which I facilitate Poverty 101, a training program I designed to break poverty stereotypes amongst our student employees (this is needed…just wait for it–the pictures speak volumes). We just opened a new Resource and Support Center this week. The center will help students get connected with basic needs, and houses our food pantry. While we have had a food pantry for awhile, it was located in an empty store closet with no heat.

I have included a few photos. The one titled, “Pantry,” is what we used to give out to students–snacks to get them through the day. The photo titled, “Food Bags,” is from our holiday break packs, which were packed with the hope of supplementing a student over winter break. They consisted of a few cans of generic soup, dehydrated veggies, unlabled tuna, pasta, and a couple cans of fruit. Some had sauce and beans, but there wasn’t enough to go around. The photo titled, “Screenshot,” is what was on the posters advertising the break packs. (As you can see, the marketing team hasn’t taken Poverty 101.) Students were upset about the difference between the advertisement and the actual items, but what do you do when it’s your only option? The lack of cultural sensitivity is real, and I am having a rough time breaking down the poverty stigma on campus.

Don’t get me wrong, faculty is trying  and finally we have administration behind us. But the struggle is real. The distributor the pantry gets their food from recently told our contact that they are having trouble securing food at the prices they need to keep supplying the many food shelves they serve. This pisses me off to no end. We all are painfully aware that food not sold eventually goes into dumpsters, not hungry stomachs. There is no reason, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, that we can’t feed everyone nutritious food.

But that’s another story.

 


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Reverse Advent Calendar

Reverse Advent Calendar

  
I like this idea from Mum in the Madhouse . 

I know, I know. It’s not perfect. Most food banks won’t even be open on Christmas Eve. Poor people need food all year long, not just the holidays. 

Both totally true. BUT  one could certainly adapt this idea to work better w/ the food bank schedule. Or even give it to a family you personally know who might be in need!

This would be a wonderful thing to do year round. Maybe during the summer months food could be kid- friendly to offset the loss of school meals?  

Whatever food bank you’re donating to, ask ahead of time what they need the most of. It’s good to think about other non-food items,too…. toilet paper, feminine hygiene supplies, razors,toothpaste,etc.

Feeding America’s Backpack Program


This school year we’ve been participating in the Backpack Program. The program’s intention is to provide meals to food insecure kids during weekends and school breaks when they might not have access to enough food.

Each Friday a bag of food comes home with each of my boys. Friday’s food often looks like this :


Each bag has a boxed meal, a couple packets of oatmeal, a can of fruit ( usually applesauce or mandarin oranges), a can of veggies, a protein( either peanut butter or tuna/chicken), and a can of soup.

The program has been really helpful these past couple of months. Even though the program is centered around children getting enough food, it’s been a help to our whole family. If I had a dollar for every parent who told me they skip meals to make sure their kids eat, I’d be able to feed a whole lot of families. Programs like these usually provide food security for everyone in the household. Some of the food that comes home in the backpacks can easily be used to supplement family meals. I use the canned applesauce as a baking substitute for oil/butter or eggs when they’re in short supply. Canned veggies can be thrown into casseroles , skillet meals, or homemade soups. I use the tomato soup in rice dishes,chili,soups,and things like my own version of this Cabbage and Lentil Skillet Bake. And let’s not forget that weird pierogi casserole I made with the leftover boxed mac and cheese.

Speaking of boxed mac and cheese…

Before the Backpack Program, my kids very rarely had boxed mac and cheese. I’ve come clean before as being a bit of a food snob who had to make major adjustments with a poverty “budget”. I make THE best homemade mac and cheese but there’s no way that’s being made too much in our house these days. I had one recent weekend where I didn’t even have butter or milk for the boxed mac and cheese. I used water instead. Like this:

I am often privy to discussions among “real food” advocates. They talk about boxed mac and cheese as if it’s the worst thing you could ever feed a kid. There is a clear presentation among many that a parent feeding their kid this is not only an idiot but they don’t care at all about their child’s health. Now, I love my homemade gooey,cheesy mac and cheese but I have a real appreciation for the boxed stuff now,too. What some might consider “crappy food” is better than no food at all. With 22% of all children in the U.S. living in poverty (TWENTY TWO PERCENT!),  it’s time to stop pearl clutching over a list of ingredients or even at canned vegetables that don’t meet privileged foodie approval  and just get enough food into these children’s homes. Period.

If you’re interested in supporting programs like the Backpack Program, you can donate hereA $1 donation = 11 meals. You may also donate these items directly to a food bank:

BackPackWishList_1.14

Special thank you to Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Ithaca City School District for helping in my area to put food in low income children’s homes via the Backpack Program.

I finally made it to Aldi’s and didn’t swoon (and other thoughts on food shopping w/out transportation)

All the people who told me that I needed to go to Aldi’s if I really needed to save money on food will be relieved to know that we got a car a few months ago and now I can go to Aldi’s.

I mean…if the car starts. Which it didn’t one day last month. It needed a new alternator which we had to wait weeks to get fixed until a) we had money to fix it or b) we got approved for a special loan program that helps low income people fix their car.

Or  if it’s not one of those weeks where it’s the day after payday and we have $15 until next payday, which means absolutely no unnecessary trips besides husband getting to work and home.

But otherwise, I can now go to Aldi’s. Before, I had to take two buses to get there. I would have to take at least 2 kids with me. We live in NY. In the winter, it gets really cold. In the summer, it gets really hot ( so, that’s a no to buying anything frozen). Plus, here in Ithaca we have special weather. Ithacating. It isn’t fun. Sometimes there could be as much as an hour+ long wait at a bus stop to get our bus home. One trip to Aldi’s might take me 6 hours, even though it was 20 minutes away.
Bus fare for one trip to Aldi’s: $5.75 . One of those children required hand holding or sometimes carrying. Since we didn’t live directly on the bus line, we would have to walk about ¾ of a mile to our house from the bus stop (don’t make me mention the weather again).

Total bags of groceries I could get without hurting myself or losing track of my kid: ONE.

I never went to Aldi’s. It was too much work.

Now that I have been to Aldi’s, I think I’m supposed to tell you that it was a life changing experience and with the money I saved, I can send my kids to college!

Sorry. No.

And on and on and on those chips and snacky foods go.

For one thing, my nickname for the Aldi’s here is Ithaca’s Snack Food Emporium. Are Aldi’s like this everywhere?

Nothing against chips but I can’t feed my family just chips. Although at those prices… I could divide a bag among my whole family for 36¢ per serving! That’s a more economical snack than the fresh peaches at Aldi’s. Peaches were 59¢ EACH, and that was when peaches were in season. My food budget is roughly $3 per person per day. I’m not spending 20% of my day’s budget on one peach. I could buy a can of peaches for around $1 and there’s 3 servings in a can. That’s 30-ish cents per serving.
I hear the cries of the real foodies right now telling us poor people that “Yes, you CAN eat fresh produce on a budget!”. I swear, those people just cannot do math.

Well, and obviously, they have no idea how to deal with lack of transportation or food deserts either.

People think of food deserts as being a city thing but they’re just as much a rural issue. Where we live now, the closest place that has something that resembles food is a gas station convenience store 2 miles away. Obviously, the selection is limited to snacks and a few pre-packaged meals that are way overpriced. I could probably walk there if I needed milk but then I’d have to pay something like $5 for a gallon of milk. A gallon of milk I’d then have to carry 2 miles home, dragging kids along, and ugh, did I mention the weather here sometimes? And no, that milk is totally not organic or hormone free or whatever I’m supposed to be eating/drinking to be a healthy and ethical human these days. This scenario is not on my top 10 list of “Ways To Save Money On Food When You’re Poor” . It doesn’t even make the top 50.

We are fortunate out here to have rural bus service, even if it does run a frustrating schedule. It can be hard to even get to the food bank, let alone the closest real grocery store (16 miles).
There are a lot of people in my area without cars. I think some assume automatically that those who live in the country have vehicles. Not so much here,anyway. There is a great group of retired individuals who will give parents a ride to events and meetings at the school. It’s necessary to have such a thing here.  So, with grocery shopping… when people are able to get to the store, they are more likely to NOT buy fresh or perishable food. Who knows when you’ll be able to go to the grocery store again? Dry goods and canned foods is the way to go.

I don’t know what my point is here. The man gave me his Man Cold and my brain is fuzzy. I think I’m just trying to ask people to think before they give advice to low income folks on how and where they should shop for food and what they should eat. Generally, we (“we”= poor folks) know what we’re doing and are just doing the best we can. It might not match what OTHERS think is the best but it is what it is.

*So Many Addendums*
I had no idea so many people felt so strongly about Aldi’s. If only some of those people were as upset by poor people not having access to good food as they were by me not liking Aldi’s!

But really…people also do have to remember that their Aldi’s may not be the same as my Aldi’s and Ithaca Aldi Lovers need to think about what a new shopper’s 1st impression might be in the local store. You walk in and *boom*….it’s all the snacky stuff straight up in your face first thing. I did buy trail mixes for my daughters who are at college. They seemed to have a good ratio of dried fruit to everything else. My one daughter complained that most of the pre-packaged trail mixes are more like candy and those weren’t. So, score one for Aldi’s!
The produce is NOT impressive. I picked apples off the neglected trees in our field that looked better than their organic apples (upcoming post!) . Everyone told me I had to go to Aldi’s ESPECIALLY for the produce but when I got there ,I was like “meh” and I couldn’t really afford a lot of it,anyway.

My key point was about transportation and food shopping. Writing while sick probably didn’t help me get that point across. Note to self: camp out on the couch and binge watch Netflix next time.

Lunchtime Links: Stamp Out Hunger, lots of lentil recipes, and another study confirms stuff we know

My laptop is back. Thank the techy gods for buyer’s protection plans. They replaced the screen and it’s as good as new now.

So, back to things like Lunchtime Links!

Tomorrow is the annual Letter Carrier’s Food Drive, better known now as Stamp Out Hunger. On Saturday, May 10th, leave a plastic bag with canned and nonperishable food next to your mailbox. Your letter carrier will donate it to a local food bank.

If you don’t get mail delivery and still want to contribute, check out this list to find a food bank near you.

Does anyone see flyers for this in your own area? I never see anything here. I only know of this event because of social media and I go to my local post office nearly every day. Maybe I’m not aware since I don’t get home delivery?

Speaking of food banks…

via Sustainable Food Trust  –

Affordable healthy diet ‘too expensive for many

This isn’t news around these parts (meaning this part here of the blogosphere). We know that the need for food banks has increased. Eating healthy is really not something that some poor people CAN do.
Meanwhile,I can present studies and personal narratives every damn day ,all day long and I will still hear some people blame poor people for unhealthy eating “choices” ( saying choice implies there is more than one option) , fat-shaming poor people ignoring the “obesity-poverty paradox” and of course, saying poor people aren’t trying hard enough to do for themselves.

On the issue of “concern trolls” (people who raise “concerns” or non-helpful solutions about the things people do or act supposedly out of interest for the good of the people or cause at hand but who actually are working AGAINST what or who they claim to be advocating for, often ignoring the personal narratives and voices of people with the most experience )…. when it comes to the health and nutrition issues, weight is not the primary concern they need to be thinking about. From my perspective, brain health is the most important. Low income kids who don’t get the right food or enough of it can’t excel in school and tend to have more behavior problems. Obviously, the same is true for adults. Who can function well at a job when they’re hungry? Being hungry and not getting the right nutrition can literally make you pretty loopy and affect the way your brain works.

Hangry is a real thing.

 

Ok,enough of that.
How about some recipes? Lentils. Because it’s one thing people are like, “These were cheap but now what the hell do I do with them?”
This is a great list of recipes from Whole New Mom.

Lentil Collage Wmk

“Lentil-fy your life!”

Missing here is this thing my step-daughter makes (regional cuisine of Panama, where the step-kids grew up). Next time we Skype with her, I will ask her for the recipe.I tried to make it from memory but it wasn’t quite the same.
(I really love Skype. My step-daughter is living and going to school in Belgium right now. The other day, she took us on a live tour through her new town and showed us her container garden she has growing. That’s just SO cool,right?)