The Gift of Bacon

After work on Saturday, I went to Jeremiah’s house. We finalized our meal plan for the week. I’m happy to report, we came in under budget. Enough so, we can have Papa Murphy’s pizza on Friday night. You have no idea how excited this made us. Papa Murphy’s sells a take ‘n bake FAV pizza (a large cheese, pepperoni, or sausage) for just $5 every day. And since the pizza isn’t baked, it’s eligible for SNAP benefits. (Thank you to my co-workers for this little tip.) I checked their website and it says that you can use SNAP at almost every location. Score!

breadThe last couple ingredients we needed for our menu were sausage, chickpeas, and bread. You should have seen us. Since we came in so far under budget, we opted to buy two sausages at the HyVee meat counter ($1.25 each = $2.50). The chickpeas were included in the beans sales so we got them for $.66 a can. (Yes, I had budgeted $1.50). We decided to splurge and buy a box of Jiffy corn bread. It was $.55 and the HyVee brand was $.50. Jeremiah wanted Jiffy. I didn’t realize it but we now had to budget in another $.17 for an egg and $.08 for milk to make the mix. The bread was a real challenge. The $1.50 wheat bread wasn’t on sale at HyVee. We looked around and compared bread. We ended up with a HyVee loaf of $.99 white bread. All the other breads either didn’t have enough slices, were less health, or significantly more expensive.

When we got to the checkout, the cashier made a joke about how our evening was based on the ingredients, I said “we were trying to live on a SNAP budget.” She said, “every penny counts.” I gave her my Fuel Saver card and used my debit card on the machine. I think she thought I was paying with SNAP because she said, “it went through”. I was really offended when we got to the car. Jeremiah asked, “why?” I said, “I used my debit card. I just got paid yesterday so of course it went through, I have a whole paycheck in my account. I think that cashier thought I was using a Vision card (how SNAP recipients purchase their food). ” I felt for all the SNAP recipients whole have ever been made to feel that way when they purchased their food.

After buying our groceries, we went to dinner. We both decided to get an adult beverage since we wouldn’t be able to have one for the next week. I’m not sure if I would have had I known I wouldn’t be able to do so this week.

Saturday night, Jeremiah mentioned that his parents had left us the gift of bacon. He thought we could have it with pancakes during the SNAP Challenge. I had to share with him the bad news, that we couldn’t do that because we can’t accept free food during the SNAP Challenge. The reason is because not everyone receiving SNAP benefits is lucky enough to have people who leave bacon in their fridge. I suggested we have it for breakfast on Sunday morning. I’m glad I did because it was the really good bacon – Farmland full fat, thick cut.

I asked Jeremiah if we were making less healthy food decisions knowing that we were going into a week of such a restrictive diet. He agreed we probably were. On Sunday, we started our day with two eggs, two & half slices of bacon, and a donut. After church, I weren’t feeling hungry yet so we stopped by my house to pick-up some of the items we needed to prepare our food for the week. By the time we made it back up north, it was 1:30PM. We stopped by Chipotle for lunch. Jeremiah debated not eating the whole bowl. I reminded him, he wouldn’t be able to eat it this week so he finished it.

We spent three and half hours cooking recipes for the week. I made a point to portion everything out to ensure we had enough and didn’t run out. It was a good thing we did because we needed to make another batch of hummus. I was so excited that our cookie recipe made 12 extra cookies. I started discussing how we could eat them based on what we were having for dinner. Jeremiah said to me, “Are you rationing out cookies?” Indeed, I was.

cheesecakeWhile Jeremiah was cooking our dinner, I ran to HyVee in pursuit of our last Starbucks. (We are both Gold Members so this is going to be hard. Especially for me, since I’m giving up coffee entirely this week. I need creamers/syrup to drink it & that isn’t in the budget. Plus, it allows Jeremiah to have one in the morning and one at night.) The Starbucks’ app said that location was open until 9PM. Unfortunately, they were closed when I arrived at 8:05PM. I called Jeremiah and asked for the next closest location. He sent me to a free standing one we had been to together before. After dinner, we finished off the cherry chocolate cheesecake Jeremiah had baked for Valentine’s Day with our grande lattes.

We are ready for the Harvesters SNAP Challenge to start on Monday!

Please note: We are doing the Harvesters’ SNAP Challenge a week early because I will be out of town at a training next week. That means their is still time for you to sign up & participate. To learn more, click here

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2 responses

  1. Hi! I’m sorry, I couldn’t find a name on your blog anywhere, so please forgive me for not addressing you directly. 🙂 My name is Celena McDonnell and I am a single mom of six (for the past 7 years) and we live in Upstate New York. I have happened across your blog in my Reader and wanted to show my appreciation for what you are doing to sympathize with those of us reliant on public assistance. I think it is fantastic, but I wanted to share a bit of my struggle with you. I am a SNAP recipient, however, my calculations come out somewhat different from yours. I was wondering where the allotted $4.50 per day per person came from? I am looking at my most recent decision notification from DSS and I am receiving $499 per month, for six qualified household members. I have divided the $499 by 6 and have come up with about $83 per month per person. I then divided the $83 by 30 (assuming that is a standard month) and have come up with roughly $2.77 per day per person. I was wondering if that sounded right to you, or if not, if people knew the SNAP challenge may not be accurate. I also need to state here, that I actually am feeding seven people on that amount. My eldest daughter is in her freshman year at a local college, to get her degree in nursing. She is full time there, and has a part time job as well, so while she is focusing on those, I am allowing her to continue to live at home. However, since her part time job falls short of the 24 hours a week requirement for the SNAP program, she is not eligible to receive assistance herself. That is why, even in a household of seven, only six are on SNAP. I want to impart here, how difficult this is, but I think you have some idea. I just hope you will continue to share what you are facing, and maybe you can get your community to realize that this is not a perfect system. Imagine having to go through what you and Jeremiah are going through with your groceries, while you work and fulfill your responsibilities to six others as well. Mine is a perfect example of the “cycle” and why the US is facing such epidemic food insecurities. I could make my daughter move out and support herself. And she would drop out of school to do that, work somewhere that pays her below a living wage, and eventually end up on assistance herself. Until we fix the underlying issues, we will continue to struggle as a society. How do I make this work? I don’t very well. Luckily, I have family that can throw me a few bucks (or more than a few), should an emergency arise. However, I do have to report that to DSS, and so my benefits are reduced accordingly. Thank you for listening to me preach, I hope you do not mind me forcing my reality on you, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. And thank you for promoting awareness, you and Jeremiah are doing a wonderful thing. 🙂 God bless.
    Celena

    • Dear Celena,
      Thank you so much for your message. As you pointed out, so many college students are also struggling to eat. In our community, we work with a local college that started a food pantry a few years ago for their students.

      The budget I was given was by our SNAP Coordinators. I believe it is the average benefit for people in the Kansas and Missouri area – we are located in Kansas City, MO. However, we work with people in both states.

      I would strongly encourage you to check out http://www.feedingamerica.org to find a food bank in your area. They have 10 in the state of NY. I’m guessing that probably have a SNAP Coordinator on their staff that can help you make sure you are receiving the full benefit you can. I know some of the people we have helped apply have received as little as $14. The good news, is our staff has been able to educate people about the double your dollars benefit at the local farmers markets to help them stretch that to $28. They can also connect you with any other resources your family might need.

      I know this experience is changing us in ways we never imagined. About 100 people have signed up to participate in our local challenge. I hope that my blog will help educate others who aren’t able to participate in the challenge.

      Thinking of you and your family,
      Amber

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