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Day 2 of the SNAP Challenge

19 Jun

Having lost the gusto I had on Day 1, today was a little less exciting and a lot more like a regular work day sans coffee. Another egg and banana breakfast, a glass of water. Around 11:30am, I really needed something to snack on but wasn’t quite ready to dive into my spaghetti, so I headed downstairs to the green market for a piece of fruit. As my coworkers each bought a $4 lemonades, I picked through a pile of peaches ($2.99/lb) for my sugary treat and headed to the scale with what I thought was an average sized peach. It turned out to be a half-pound monster that cost me $1.67. This immediately made me reconsider my snack urge: how hungry was I? The $31.50 budget comes to about $1.50 per meal. Was I hungry enough to eat a SNAP-budget-meal-worthy-peach all at once? I decided I wasn’t.

For the next hour I let the peach sit my desk and mask the smell of farts that was emanating from myjames-and-giant-peach garbage can full of egg shells (yea I said it, boiled eggs smell like farts. don’t act surprised). I decided around 1pm that it was finally time to eat my leftover spaghetti and have some more water. Finally, at 3pm, that peach met it’s maker: I carried it to the kitchen and sliced it in half to find the most deliciously ripe and juicy peach I’ve ever had. I packed up the other half to bring home for later and brought my bounty back to my desk before anyone saw the peachy gold I had foraged outside.

With the saga of the peach over and dessert to look forward to later, the day carried on. After some overtime and visit to the vet with our cat, I got home at 7:45. For a few minutes I considered eating bean salad for dinner, but realized I needed to prepare something for lunch tomorrow: back to Western Beef I went. As I shopped, Paul happily ate his turkey chilli, which he topped with cheese and put in a tortilla. This is the fourth chilli meal he’s had in 2 days.

I came home having spent $8.34 on peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, an apple, and a can of chopped tomato. I turned the bean salad into bean chili with some pantry spices, leftover pasta sauce, and can of chopped tomato, and topped it off with some chicken. It was about 9:15pm.

As I sit here now typing at 10:30pm, my stomach feels pretty full. I’m guessing its the massive amount of beans and eggs. Not enough to stop me from devouring the rest of that peach, but enough to make me appreciate a fibrous diet with ample greens and fruits.

Rachel’s Budget: $20.98 spent, $10.52 left

Paul’s Budget: $31.50 spent, $0.00 left

 

Click headings below to learn more:

About the Farm Bill and proposed cuts

About the Food Bank for NYC & SNAP Challenge

Learn about SNAP eligibility standards and allowances in NYC

See the USDA requirements for eligibility and do the math

Learn the difference between SNAP, WIC, and EBT

TELL CONGRESS TO PROTECT THE SNAP PROGRAM

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Day 1 of the SNAP Challenge

18 Jun

Last week I decided to take part in the SNAP Challenge alongside many others and the Food Bank for NYC from June 12th-18th to help raise awareness for the upcoming vote that could effect it’s future. For those 7 days, I would have $31.50 to spend on my food (about $1.50 per meal) which is the average amount of money provided to people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

At the end of this post you can read some background information and find resources on the Farm Bill 2013, SNAP Program, and what’s at risk. AKA, the “What’s all the fuss about? Section”

Never one to turn down a challenge, my husband Paul also signed up. He has no qualms about eating the same meal for days on end, so this is likely a factor that will work to his advantage. On the other side of the spectrum, I enjoy pretending the Food Network has hidden cameras set up in my kitchen; every day is a new episode of Chopped, and I never eat the same thing twice in one week if I can avoid it.

Sidebar: “Hey, um, didn’t you already miss this? It’s June 17th.” If that’s what you were just thinking, you’d be correct. Before I even started I hit a road block: I had weekend plans out of town, which meant I’d have to forgo the BBQ and pies and fresh market finds, bring my own food, and basically miss all of the main activities planned. Literally, the first thing we did was put together a brand new BBQ, and the second thing we did was cook lunch on it. So, here is my first realization during the challenge: I really couldn’t go on that trip if I were living on a food stamp budget unless I was willing to let my friends foot the bill. Since I wasn’t, I decided to start the SNAP Challenge today, on June 17th. Judge me if you must, because I already feel like I failed, but here we are: Day 1.

Paul & Rachel Go Shopping

Instead of making a right out of our door to Whole Foods, we turned left and headed to Western Beef. Having grown accustom to eating as much organic and fresh foods as possible, this was our first big change. It just didn’t seem possible to shop there on a budget. I’m looking forward to going in there next week and comparing prices for the same items I purchased at Western Beef; for now, it would just make me sad to 1, see all the food I can’t afford and 2, see all the food I’ve been paying way too much for. <<insert sad walking here>>

I played it safe and left myself some wiggle room for the rest of the week. Contents: Half a chicken, black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, corn, 1 onion, 3 bananas, dozen eggs, 1lb of pasta, and 1 large can of crushed tomato

I played it safe and left myself some wiggle room for the rest of the week. Contents: Half a chicken, black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, corn, 1 onion, 3 bananas, 1 dozen eggs, 1lb of pasta, and 1 large can of crushed tomato. TOTAL SPENT: $10.97

Paul went in pretty confident, knowing that he's lived off of chili before and he could do it again. Gladly. Contents: Jar of tomato sauce, chick peaks, black beans, small can of crushed tomato, pink beans, milk, 1lb of turkey, chili mix, 1lb pasta, box of corn flakes. TOTAL SPENT: $16.52

Paul went in pretty confident, knowing that he’s lived off of chili before and he could do it again, gladly. Contents: Jar of tomato sauce, chick peaks, black beans, small can of crushed tomato, pink beans, milk, 1lb of turkey, tortilla wraps, chili mix, 1lb pasta, box of corn flakes. TOTAL SPENT: $16.52

Day 1 Meals

I had a hard boiled egg and a banana for breakfast. Around 11:30am I “snacked” on another hard-boiled egg. For lunch I ate some bean/corn/onion salad (which will be making numerous cameos this week), and boiled chicken. I used the chicken bones to make a stock which will see some action later this week in a soup. For dinner, spaghetti with marinara. Even though it would’ve been easier to buy a jar of sauce, I just couldn’t. Food stamps or not, Italians don’t do jarred sauce. It’s worth the extra effort to make it from scratch and save a few pennies in the process. I used fresh basil from a plant I have and a lot of hot crushed peppers to hide the fact that I forgot to buy fresh garlic and couldn’t use parmesan cheese.

While I slaved away in the kitchen, Paul had a bowl of cereal for breakfast and BOLDLY picked up some Pad Thai for lunch (that’s minus $8 from his budget). I’m not sure if he’s a genius or just arrogant, but I’m feeling silly for boiling chicken bones all night. For dinner, he made himself about 3 lbs of turkey chili and ate it as a burrito. This will be his lunch and dinner for the next few days.

Day 1 Recap

I’m not hungry, but I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled with what tomorrow looks like: more eggs, more spaghetti, more beans. I also realized quickly that in order to eat during the day, I had to plan out my meals at night and prepare/cook ahead. It’s time-consuming and time isn’t something people always have to devote to cooking.

Useful Information:

Food stamps were renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP in 2008; the goal of the program is to help recipients maintain healthy diets by making relatively expensive items like fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to those with low incomes. Since the literal food ‘stamps’ were mostly replaced by Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, food stamp is a somewhat outdated term.

Click headings below to learn more:

About the Farm Bill and proposed cuts

About the Food Bank for NYC & SNAP Challenge

Learn about SNAP eligibility standards and allowances in NYC

See the USDA requirements for eligibility and do the math

Learn the difference between SNAP, WIC, and EBT

TELL CONGRESS TO PROTECT THE SNAP PROGRAM

Mae’s Breath 1st Anniversary (Volunteers Needed)

7 Feb
2013

On March 5th, Mae’s Breath Foundation & Fashion Emerge will host the one year anniversary of the newly formed Mae’s Breath Foundation, which began in memory of Brooklyn resident Eartha Mae Lawson, who lost her brief battle with lung cancer in 2010. The evening festivities will include showcasing MBF’s on-line support group, as well as an introduction of the creative arts series which will promote lung cancer awareness.

Mae’s Breath is currently seeking volunteers to assist at this event and help ensure that it runs smoothly. Volunteers will be asked to greet guests and press, distribute giftbags, and assist with model preparation before the showcase begins. If you’re interested in helping, please contact Yolanda at lcproject2010@yahoo.com

MB Flyer

Hurricane Sandy Recovery: Coney Island

3 Nov

NYC Council Member Domenic Recchia, who represents Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, & Gravesend, has been organizing volunteers and donations since the moment Sandy passed through his Brooklyn neighborhood. I’ve watched his Twitter and Facebook feeds flash new information into the wee hours of the night, and I applaud his team’s efforts. Join him as they continue to help distribute essential items to the community:

If you can volunteer in Coney Island to distribute food, water, and supplies, go to 2770 W. 5th, Room 4C. That is volunteer and donation central for Domenic Recchia’s team.

If you can donate food, water, and supplies, please bring them to 2770 W. 5th, Room 4C. They are in especially high need of water and food.

Please direct all communications to sandyreliefrecchia@gmail.com. To stay updated on volunteer opportunities in this area, along with vital information regarding food and water distribution, visit his website: http://drecchia.com/

 

 

How to Help After Hurricane Sandy

31 Oct
2012

Hurricane Sandy has left a path of destruction across the eastern seaboard, and now is the time for us to come together and help our fellow man. Below are any and all opportunities I’ve found to help recovery efforts, whether its volunteering your time or donating money to those who are already dispatched into communities across New York. This list is focused on NYC, but I welcome any new opportunities in the Tri-State Area and beyond: please email giveandgetnyc@gmail.com and your organization’s needs will be posted.

At this time, the donation of time and money is much more beneficial than in-kind donations, as the efforts needed to package and dispatch such items is time consuming. Unless expressly noted by an organization that they are in need of specific items, which some are and have, please consider a monetary donation before giving in-kind gifts.

VOLUNTEER

FOOD BANK FOR NEW YORK CITY: If you are interested in joining the Food Bank for NYC within this critical time of need, please join their mailing list HERE. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email us at volunteerfoodbanknyc@gmail.com.

NYC SERVICE: To be dispatched wherever there is a need in NYC, email nycservice@cityhall.nyc.gov with your name, email and borough.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK: As of October 31, the park remains closed, but they will need all the help they can get with clean up efforts over the next several days. If you would like to volunteer, please email Sarah Ward (sward@brooklynbridgepark.org), and they will alert you when it is time to mobilize.

NEW YORK CARES: As the City’s lead organization for the management of unaffiliated volunteers, New York Cares’ Emergency Response Program ensures that volunteers can be quickly and effectively mobilized in the event of a disaster. If you are already a New York Cares volunteer please click here. You will be prompted to sign up to express your interest in being contacted about disaster recovery projects after Hurricane Sandy. We do not yet know the extent of the need, or where or when volunteer projects will take place, but we will contact interested volunteers once we have a better understanding of the response needed. Thanks for your support as we help the city respond. If you are not already registered with New York Cares please click here.

RED CROSS: If you’d like to volunteer at a Red Cross shelter and are…

  • Over the age of 16
  • Available for 12 hour shift from Wednesday, Oct 31 to Friday, November 2.
  • Be ready to deploy to a shelter location outside of New York City and stay for up to 72 hours.
  • Able to lift and carry 30-40 lbs
  • Comfortable working with people in stressful situations

If you meet these requirements, please fill out our Spontaneous Volunteer Application.

Hurricane Sandy has forced the cancellation of approximately 300 American Red Cross blood drives in 14 states along the East Coast, resulting in a shortfall of more than 10,700 units of blood and platelets thus far. To help by donating blood in NY, click here: http://www.redcrossblood.org/nyp . For other states, click here.

NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE: The Public Advocates office is helping to mobilize volunteers. Register here.

JERSEY CARES: Register with Jersey Cares to volunteer for recovery projects in New Jersey, and they will email you when projects are in place: http://www.jerseycares.org/HOC__Volunteer_Registration_Page

NJ EMERGENCY VOLUNTEER HOTLINE: If you are interested in volunteering in NJ, call the state’s volunteer emergency response hotline at 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397). This hotline was established earlier this year to enhance the state’s emergency responsiveness by harnessing New Jerseyans’ strong spirit of service. If storm conditions preclude the hotline from being answered by live operators, volunteers may call one of two backup hotline numbers: 609-775-5236 or 908-303-0471. Volunteers may also send an email to rowena.madden@sos.state.nj.us. Read more here.

STATEN ISLAND RECOVERS: This is a recovery organizing site for Staten Island in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The site allows people to offer/request assistance, and is coordinated by the folks at Occupy NYC and community organizations on the ground. Visit the site: https://statenisland.recovers.org/

UPPER WEST SIDE SHELTERS (Updated 12:50pm, 10/31): “Upper West Side shelter needs help: clothes in large sizes needed for Sandy evacuees at MS 118, 154 West 93 St.” There are three shelters in the neighborhood. The one at John Jay College had enough volunteers last night (not sure about tonight yet) but the following two were running low on volunteers and will need help again tonight, including for overnight shifts:

Brandeis High School on West 84th Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues).

MS 118 on 93rd Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues)

If you can volunteer at an evacuation shelter or know anyone who can, please contact Shelly Fine at sfine50@aol.com or 917.453.3911.

DONATE

MAYOR’S FUND TO ADVANCE NEW YORK: The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is committed to improving the lives of New Yorkers. Right now, you can donate directly to hurricane relief in NYC through this website: https://www.nyc.gov/html/fund/html/donate/donate.shtml

RED CROSS: The best way to donate is to make a financial gift. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. In-kind donations are not needed at this time.

NYC RESCUE MISSION: If you can purchase or have extra food/water–take it to NYC Rescue Mission, 90 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013-4494. They are also in need of dry ice, generators, and AA and D batteries. If you are not in the area but wish to donate, you can do so through their website: https://nycrescue.org/give/donate-now/

THE HUMANE SOCIETY: The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team is assisting animals and people in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, and is prepared for ongoing disaster relief after this historic storm. To make a donation click here

THE BOWERY MISSION: In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, The Bowery Mission is providing safe shelter and food to more homeless and displaced New Yorkers, effectively tripling its normal capacity. The supply of food and pantry items is drastically decreasing at a time when it is needed most. Make a donation by clicking here, or donate over the phone by calling 1-800-BOWERY-1 (1-800-269-3791)