Archive for June, 2011

Day 4 of the Hunger Challenge

Guest post by Assemblymember Yamada: Last night’s meal of stir-fried turkey with black beans and green beans over noodles was a combination borne out of “ingredient necessity”.  Not the tastiest, but filling.

Today is Wednesday and I am “mid-week” with the Hunger Challenge.  I am pleased to learn that there is a staffer in the building who has also joined me for today.  I invited her to send her thoughts to the blog.

During a noon-talk that I gave to the Executive Fellows, several were incredulous that I was participating in this activity, asking me, “How do you do that?” (live on $4.44 a day for food).  I replied that this brief exercise required planning, budgeting, and restraint, and that 2.5 million Californians are facing this every day.

Having left home in a rush this morning, I microwaved leftover coffee from Tuesday and filled my thermos about a third-full.  I grabbed a whole banana, a yogurt (only one remaining from the 4-pk), and a slice of 12-grain bread.  After a full day phone calls, events, presentations, speeches, and preparations for next week’s Senate committee hearings, I do feel hungry and am thinking ahead as to what I will put together for dinner tonight.  Perhaps my can of chicken corn chowder, a lettuce and tomato salad, and toast is on the evening horizon.  I couldn’t imagine if, after a long and exhausting day like this one, I would then have to travel long distances to obtain any fresh food to prepare for a meal, as many who live in “food deserts” across the state must do every day or week.  A few bills in the Legislature address this issue, including  Speaker Perez’s AB 581 which creates the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative to help expand access to healthy foods in underserved communities.  Through our work in the Legislature, I hope we can minimize the burden on these communities with limited nutritious food options.

The Hunger Challenge continues for Assemblymember Yamada

Guest post by Assemblymember Yamada: When I returned from the single-payer, universal healthcare forum in Woodland about 10 p.m. on Monday evening, I was feeling a little hungry.   I had last eaten about 4 p.m. (a turkey-burger with lettuce and tomato).  I decided to make a package of ramen noodles, adding a handful of fresh green beans and about a quarter of the tofu block.  I used very little of the high-sodium content seasoning packet (not healthy).

Looking through my mail, I noticed a number of fast-food ads for chicken and pizza, hamburgers and burritos.  On a $4.44 daily budget, chicken and pizza were not an option; hamburgers and burritos were somewhat more affordable, but if I had chosen to do a “fast food day”, such a purchase would have only covered one or two of my daily meals.  As I settled into my home office chair, I noticed the number of online ads from restaurants whose menu items were out-of-reach.  What occurred to me is that food ads are all around, but for millions of Californians, going out to eat is unaffordable.

Tuesday – Caucus Day

I skipped breakfast, as I customarily do, and drank half-a-thermos of home-brewed coffee this morning.

Tuesdays at noon, the Members of the Legislature gather for their respective weekly noon caucuses, at which lunch is provided (again, Members pay a monthly fee for this privilege).  This is my third year participating in the Food Stamp Challenge as a state legislator, but still taking one’s modest lunch into caucus requires some humor.  News of the 2011 Hunger Challenge had published in what is known as the “Capitol Morning Report”, a must-read subscription news compilation of all that’s happening in and outside the Capitol, so news of my challenge had “filtered out”.

A few members asked me, “How are you doing?”   One committed to joining me next year.  What I brought for lunch was a half-turkey sandwich, lettuce and tomato salad, and a blueberry yogurt.  As a confirmed dessert-fiend, I looked longingly at the trays of rich brownie treats that was put out for the members, but remained disciplined and did not succumb to the sugary temptation!

After an afternoon of meetings, media interviews, and review and editing of various letters and bill communications, I will be heading to an evening reception at which there will once again be an abundance of food.  I will pay my respects and then leave for home and prepare a stir-fry turkey dish with black beans and noodles.

More Wednesday!

Day Two of the Hunger Challenge for Assemblymember Yamada

Guest post by Assemblymember Yamada: Sunday evening, I divided the 1-lb ground turkey into thirds. I stir-fried 2/3rds and with the remaining 1/3, added the ends of my bread loaf as filler and cooked three turkey-burger patties.

Monday morning, I brewed a pot of coffee, filling a thermos to bring with me to work, rather than going to the Member’s Lounge where coffee is always available (Members do pay a monthly fee for this privilege). For today’s lunch, I brought a half-banana and a yogurt; for dinner before attending a speaking engagement on single-payer universal healthcare in Woodland, I will have a turkey-burger on wheat bread with lettuce and tomato.

With last Thursday’s release of the new USDA “”, I have tried to balance the food I have available with my day’s activities (Capitol visit with local elementary school children, Floor Session, and an evening speaking engagement). However, I do not think I reached 50% fresh fruits and vegetables today.

We have Assembly floor session today (Monday). I will be seeing my Hunger Challenge-mate, Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr., on the Floor in a few minutes, and will see how he is faring on Day 1.

Note: Read more about the Assemblymember’s reasons for taking the Hunger Challenge on her website.

Assemblymember Yamada Blogs About the Food Stamp Challenge

This is the first guest post from Assemblymember Yamada as she takes on the Hunger Challenge. She will be living on a food budget for one week equivalent to what the average CalFresh (Food Stamps) would be receiving in benefits. In California that average is $4 per day.

Assemblymember Yamada:

Day 1
After speaking at Davis Community Meals 3rd Annual “Hand in Hand” Fundraiser, I went to my local Safeway armed with the grocery ads and a calculator.

Here is what I bought for this year’s Hunger Challenge:

1 pound ground turkey – $3.99 (50% discount due to expiration date today)
1 extra firm Tofu Lite – $1.99
1 can chicken corn chowder soup – $1.29
1 can black beans – $0.79
1 can tuna – $0.99
1 4pk yogurt – $1.49
1 6pk Top Ramen – $0.89
1 loaf 12-grain bread – $2.49
1 red leaf lettuce – $0.79
3 bananas – $0.62
2 tomatoes – $0.52
1 pk fresh green beans – $2.00
1 can organic coffee – $3.49

13 items total = $21.34

What is different from previous years is that I found in-store coupon deals through which I could afford COFFEE.  Since this is my beverage of choice, and practically one of my five basic food groups, the week ahead should be a little easier for everyone around me.

Going to cook the ground turkey now because it expires tonight.

Treasures Await You in the Silent Auction

In addition to all the great food and wine at the Food Bank’s Tropical Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden fundraising event on June 26th there are over 100 items to bid on in our silent auction!

Here are the highlights of the Silent Auction:

– More than 50 baskets of home and garden items from Sur La Table, Pier One, Bill’s Ace Hardware and others
– Toys, clothes, games and princess fare for kids and families
– Holiday delights for dining and decorating
– Golf and tickets to A’s and Giant’s games
– Jewelry from David Yurman, Tiffany and Brighton
– An AMAZING wine collection from premier and boutique wineries including Arrowood, Cline, Domaine Carneros, Esterlina, Mantra, Pine Ridge, Rombauer, Roth, Shafer, Siduri, Turnbull, Viansa and many more. The highlight of the collection comes from Saxum James Berry. We have 3 bottles of Syrah from 2005, 2006 and 2007. The 2007 is the star of the vertical. It was rated 100 points by Robert Parker and was named 2010 Wine of the Year (number one in their annual Top 100 ranking) by Wine Spectator magazine.

More to come…

For complete event details and to make reservations, visit

Bid on acclaimed wines from Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, a handmade quilt donated by our friends the Tole Bridge Tolers, decor for your home and garden and a kit with all the tools you need to be a master pastry chef at home! Only some of the hundreds of auction items at
A Tropical Afternoon in the Admiral’s Garden.