Where would you begin if you only had $4 to spend on a day’s worth of meals? Recent online articles have showcased this emerging dilemma that many individuals and families are facing on a daily basis. For instance, in “The Percentage Of Americans Who Can’t Afford Food Hasn’t Budged Since The Recession Peaked,” Hunter Stuart, of the Huffington Post, chronicles the diet of Jill Taormina and her family: Totino’s Pizza Rolls with a side of canned peas.In the article, Taormina, a mother of two, describes her barriers to creating a nutritious diet for her family, “‘I can only afford to spend about $100 a month on groceries. I coupon as much as I can, but it’s just not enough.'”
Similarly, Brooke McLay discusses her grocery experience with Tori, also a mother of two; however, Tori is homeless. As McLay states, “Low-income Americans are traditionally struck in a deeply unfortunate food cycle. With meager funds, they rely on the cheapest food sources, which are those being subsidized by the government: soy, corn, and wheat. These inexpensive crops are turned into inexpensive foods, mixed with sugars and highly processed, leading to chronic health concerns like obesity, diabetes, and cancer.”After shopping with Tori on a $50 budget, McLay realizes that “nearly every item under $5 is a shelf-stable item. Most of it processed, canned, or packaged…The two grocery items over $5? Fresh produce…If $11 of apples equals two snacks but $3 in Ramen will feed her entire family for dinner, how can she possibly pick apples with her limited food stamp budget? And how will she ever afford to fill half of every mealtime plate with fruits and veggies, the amount recommended by the same government that issued her food stamps?”
These articles are effective in building awareness for this emerging problem in America; however, is there anything that low-income individuals can do to maintain a nutritious diet for themselves and their families? According to Molly Roberts’ article, “Cheap Eats: Cookbook Shows How To Eat Well On A Food Stamp Budget,” there is. Roberts tells the story of Leanne Brown, a student who recognized that Americans on food stamps were eating lots of processed foods and set out to create a cookbook full of recipes that anyone could make on $4 a day.According to Roberts, Brown’s cookbook, Good and Cheap “is free online and has been downloaded over 200,000 times since she posted it on her website in early June. A July Kickstarter campaign also helped Brown raise $145,000 to print copies for people without computer access.”
Food insecurity is an emerging issue, and if we continue to work together to build awareness for our low-income neighbors, we can change more lives and benefit our community. Let’s be proactive, just like Leanne Brown, and find innovative solutions to address this issue.