Food Stamp Challenge: Day Two

Day two of the Food Stamp Challenge for several Food Bank staff members. They are struggling with not being able to have coffee (or the quality they are used to), the lack of ‘extras’ and being tempted with free food in the office (not part of the rules of the challenge). Is anyone else participating? What are you finding to be most difficult?

Larry Sly, Executive Director. I generally have a pretty repetitive diet anyway, so a second morning of oatmeal and bringing along my yogurt and carrot for lunch is not much different than normal.  I had Cesar salad last night, but had not purchased parmesan cheese for the salad since it didn’t fit in my budget.  My girlfriend is convinced I do not get enough protein since I am a quasi-vegetarian, but I didn’t have the “there was cheese in the salad” rationale.  Sticking to this diet also means I couldn’t accept an invitation to a salmon dinner last night.  The drawbacks are becoming more obvious.

Joan Tomasini, Food Drive Coordinator. I liked my food for day one. I ate nutritiously including milk, oj, fruit, peanut butter, wheat bread – hmm – no vegetables though. For dinner I had 1.5 peanut butter sandwiches and a glass of milk (it was actually 2 sandwiches but I couldn’t eat all of the 2nd one). The for a snack it was a glass of oj and an apple. My husband had chicken so I left the house but when I came back I could still smell it. I guess that is what I miss most is the smell of things and it has only been a day. Yes, I miss my coffee terribly. Hopefully I won’t be grumpy this week – my husband is supportive and when I asked to trade an apple for some wheat thins, he threatened to padlock the cupboards. He knows I want to succeed at this. Anyway on to day two!

Caitlin Sly; Farm 2 Kids Coordinator. Today has been better so far because I was actually able to do some planned shopping yesterday.  I found some “Honey Oat O’s” at the dollar store and that was sufficient for breakfast with my not-so-delicious instant coffee.  I was able to find some good deals at Grocery Outlet and had a dinner of rainbow pasta with tomato sauce and a bowl of frozen peas.  So far, I am not hungry, but I miss the extras I would usually add – parmesan cheese, mushrooms, onions, etc.


The results of Veronica's shopping trip.

Veronica Wimer, Purchasing Manager. My shopping experience took a lot more effort than I am used to. I had to go to 3 stores to get what I wanted at the lowest price possible (FoodMax, Trader Joes and 99¢ Store) however I had to make some sacrifices. The whole wheat bread that could afford was made it high fructose corn syrup. Normally I purchase Organic whole wheat bread and organic milk from COSTCO. On a positive note, there really is no room for junk food, most of everything that I bought is in its whole natural form with minimal processing (ok, maybe not the instant coffee). Pictured right is the food I bought.

Feeling good this morning, I have had my coffee, with 4 oz of milk, two pieces of bread with two TBs of PB for breakfast. Dinner was not a happy time for me, unfortunately. I was not please to find out that sugar ( corn syrup) was the second ingredient in my 99¢ Del Monte pasta sauce that I had with the whole wheat rotini. My frozen broccoli spears were not as appetizing as my usual TJ’s purchase, (the brown spots were kind of a turn off). Unfortunately I was not  paying attention when I went food shopping, I made the wrong choice in buying  tuna, I bought tuna in oil which I am not used to and did not sit well with me last night. So thus far I have learned that even though you may be able to find many food items for cheap you will pay in the form of quality. And of course today is the day there is free food in the office!

Don McCall, Grants Coordinator. I am taking the challenge by not drastically changing the bad eating habits that I usually follow: I don’t like to cook much, and don’t very often make anything that takes too much time. I don’t plan ahead and eat whatever is convenient, sometimes healthy, sometimes not.

I haven’t been to the market yet… On Monday I had a banana, yogurt and a cup of tea for breakfast. I had the last 1/3 jar of peanut butter (4oz.) for dinner.  On Tuesday – so far I got two bananas at 7-11 on the way to work. 2 for $1. It would have been cheaper at the supermarket. I am drinking tap water for the first time in a long while.

Patty McDowell, Community Outreach Coordinator. I started Day One with oatmeal and an apple which was not bad, but a cup of instant coffee just isn’t the same as a double soy cappuccino from Peet’s Coffee. After having chicken noodle soup (to help heal my sore throat), I ventured to the grocery store to do my Food Stamp Challenge shopping trip. Typically I shop at TJ’s, Whole Foods and the Farmer’s Market, but for the challenge I chose one store: Safeway and intentionally only took $20 cash ($4 a day for 5 days which is only $1.33 a meal not accounting for snacks).

Even though I arrived at Safeway with a shopping list, I found myself spending more time evaluating what to buy than usual. For example, while I only wanted one can of whole pinto beans for burritos, it made more sense to buy 2 cans of vegetarian refried beans because not only were these 2 cans less expensive than 1 can of whole pinto beans, but I scored a package of 10 flour tortillas for free!  When I got to the check-out, I was surprised to learn my total was $22.05 which required me to return one yogurt (60 cents) and tomato sauce ($1.00) and one apple (59 cents). With a $19.86 grand total, I only have 14 cents to spare! The most memorable thing that happened during my Day One was having a customer get impatient because I had to return a few items to bring my total below the $20 cash that I had in hand.

After that experience, eating a PB&J sandwich and a banana for dinner felt easy for me. Day Two started with my stomach rumbling. Adding a banana to my oatmeal and apple breakfast helped me make it through a few hours of work before breaking out my carrots earlier than planned. I am determined to make it through this 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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