Food Stamp Challenge: Day Three

How does it feel to know you only have a limited amount of food to eat today or you might not have enough food in your house to last the week and you know you don’t have money to buy more? That is how are staff are starting to feel on this the third day of living on a food budget equal to what a food stamp recipient would receive. Read about their experiences below.

Larry Sly, Executive Director. The weird part for me was how excited I was when I realized I had the cantaloupe I bought that can serve as breakfast the next two days.  I like oatmeal, but three days in a row is plenty.

I’m also going to have an interesting night because I am going from meeting to meeting and have very little time to have food in between my obligations.  I do not have the option of picking up a light meal (sandwich, other takeout food) so will need to wait until 9 for dinner.  This diet allows no flexibility.

Joan Tomasini, Food Drive Coordinator. I never knew tuna (without mayo) could taste so good. This was my dinner (on toasted wheat bread) last night with a glass of milk and a glass of OJ later. During the day I ate two slices of wheat bread – was already tired of peanut butter – had a banana and dry cereal (Life cereal is actually pretty good). When I was out driving around I saw a deli I actually thought of stopping at and then remembered I didn’t have any money. Even going by a Starbucks (actually many Starbucks) and realizing that you can no longer just stop and buy something when you want to is quite a change. It gives you a better perspective on how lucky we are to be able to do that. I don’t feel hungry, maybe just not food satisfied. I haven’t even missed Cheez-Its yet.

Caitlin Sly; Farm 2 Kids Coordinator. Last night’s dinner was pinto beans, brown rice, and three tortillas.  I also had some frozen peas to add some vegetables.  Luckily hot sauce is a condiment because that added some flavor to the dish.  The rice took long to cook because I was using a rice cooker I had never used before.  Normally, I would make something else and save the rice for another day, but I really didn’t feel like repeating the pasta from last night and I didn’t have another choice, so I had to wait until 9:30pm for the rice to finish cooking.  My lunch has been consistent:  apple, yogurt, carrots.  So far my experience has been that I am pretty bored with the food that is available – it is a lot of repetition.

The main thing I have noticed is a lack of choice.  I have the money to buy enough food just without a whole lot of variety.  It seems I can eat some of the same things but not the brands or flavors I prefer.  The pasta sauce I chose was something I would never eat normally but it was on sale.  The yogurt was a brand and flavor that I’m not especially fond of, but it was half the price of my normal brand.  As far as fresh fruits and vegetables, I am limited to what is on sale.  While I may not feel like carrots, there was a huge bag for 99 cents so I had to go for it.  There were two types of melon available and while I would normally go for the watermelon, the honeydew was $2 cheaper.

Veronica Wimer, Purchasing Manager. No more tuna, I’m done with canned tuna, what was I thinking there is no way I could eat 4 cans of tuna a week (is that even healthy???). I have had tuna sandwiches for two nights now and I don’t think that I can stomach another tuna fish sandwich for dinner. I have to rethink my menu and make some adjustments. Yesterday ‘s menu consisted of coffee with milk, a PB sandwich for breakfast then an egg salad sandwich for lunch,  lentils w/ carrots and tuna fish sandwich for dinner. I did wake up at 3am however to a growling tummy.

Today my breakfast was an apple w/ PB, instant coffee with milk, then pasta with sugar, I mean pasta sauce with broccoli and I have to cheat here. There was about half a cup of eggplant in my fridge that I wanted to use so it didn’t go to waste so I threw that in w/ the pasta. I’m not sure what I’ll do tonight… stay tuned

Don McCall, Grants Coordinator. I finally went food shopping last night. First I went to the 99¢ store (never been there before, and I discovered that most of the items actually cost 99.999¢, which they round up to $1).  I purchased 2 pounds of carrots for $1 ($2 sale price at Safeway), and 1 pound of broccoli. They didn’t have any yogurt and all of the bananas were way too green. Went to Safeway and got 6 bananas, 2 four packs of yogurt and since my favorite cereal was on sale (Post Shredded Wheat with Bran) I pickup up a box of that also. Found microwavable frozen turkey pot pies on sale for 89¢ each, so I got four of them.

Had a pot pie for dinner and snacked on some cereal. I was not hungry this morning until after I ate my first banana.

Patty McDowell, Community Outreach Coordinator. PB&J for my Day Two lunch after having the same thing for my Day One dinner was not great, but I devoured this much earlier than my usual lunch time. Being hungrier than usual at the end of my work day caused me to feel unmotivated to venture to yoga (which is what I like to do on Tuesday evenings). However, I “made it” through although I noticed I had lower energy than usual because of my empty stomach. I felt better after my Day Two dinner of 2 soft tacos with ½ can of beans, 2 oz of cheddar cheese, ½ tomato, romaine lettuce, sour cream (this is a condiment, right?), and hot sauce. I really wanted to use my “one avocado” but decided to save this. (I could only afford one avocado with the $4 per day challenge.)

To prepare for Day Three, I roasted chicken breasts so that I could make chicken salad. While I prefer “boneless” chicken (I was a vegetarian for 10+ years and do not like dealing with deboning chicken) and usually chicken breasts (for health purposes), I used bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs since these were less expensive. It was REALLY HARD to not dive into the chicken as I was preparing the chicken salad, but I stayed true to the challenge. Waking on Day Three with hunger pangs started me thinking about food which seems to be continuing all day. Eating 2 hard-boiled eggs and a piece of whole wheat toast for my Day Three breakfast started me on a good foot, but again I ended up eating my lunch earlier than usual. I am looking forward to having some vegetables with my dinner… something I wish I could have bought more of with the $20 for this 5 day Food Stamp Challenge.

There is still time to be a part of the challenge! Visit for more information on how to get started. Let us know how the challenge is going for you in the comments section below.

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