Grateful for the School Lunch Program

I am taking the Hunger Challenge with my 2 daughters ages 9 and 7.  I know I am participating, they do not.  I decided not to tell them for a couple of reasons.  1 – I’m curious to see if they will notice the change in buying habits from the kid standards of fruit snacks, whole wheat crackers, portable pouch yogurts and other favorites, to more conservative fare of items lacking the standard cartoon character that makes the food taste that much better (or at least that is what they seem to believe J).  And 2 – my thought would be that some families who encounter financially difficult situations may choose not to tell their children for a period of time that they are using other means to extend their food budgets.  So I will be trying to explain to my kids why there is a change in the food we are buying without telling them that what we can afford is less than 30% of what I would typically spend in a whole week for food for them.  For a family of 3 I’m using $47.60 as our budget for the whole week based on the national average SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) guidelines.

Day 1: Emotionally I am still feeling good with high energy.  The kids have not noticed anything yet except…

Today was “lunch on the field” day at my kids’ school. So I headed over to school and instead of the standard practice of spending $15.00 on 3- $5.00 foot longs at Subway, I told my children (to their dismay – since subway is a tradition for this type of event with our family) that they needed to use the school lunch today.  For those that qualify for CalFresh (also known as SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program), most likely they are also qualified for Free/Reduced lunch at the public schools.  So, I took advantage of this and will for the rest of the week.

But here’s the kicker, what would have happened in the summer time when the Free and Reduced lunch program is not available.  There are ways of course – however on a $47.60 budget for the week, saving the extra $2.00 per day gives me one extra dinner at the end of the week.  So Kudos to all the School Districts that provide the Summer Food Supplemental Program to help offset the cost of food even in the summer for those that need food assistance.

Back tomorrow with a Day 2 update.

*Note: I will not deny my kids food for the sake of the challenge if they are hungry.

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