Today is Day 3 of the Snap4aWeek Challenge. So far, so good. No one has gone hungry, I’m happy to say. Although my kids have griped a bit about the lack of snack food (we have plenty of snacks, by the way – they mean “junk food”!)
The food waste thing has continued to be a thorn in my side – although I’m definitely becoming more mindful about (a) serving them vs. letting them serve themselves and (b) starting with smaller portions (especially for my three year-old who is known to change her mind as soon as she gets something.)
Another challenge I’m encountering is hospitality on a limited budget. I’m finding myself much more aware of not only what I’m feeding myself, but what I’m offering to others. I hate even thinking about this, but the truth is that when resources are limited, sharing is harder. Period.
And the emotional impact of that can be really tough – especially when our Jewish communities places such a huge value on hospitality (hachnasat orchim) – especially on Shabbat, but even during the week.
I’m not saying it can’t be done – but it’s definitely trickier. Emotionally and practically.
Hosting people for Shabbat (we’ll be having one other family for our black-bean-vegetarian-chili-over-sweet-potatoes Shabbat lunch) is a very real consideration. Not only is it a matter of having enough volume of food for your guests, but there’s also a community ‘norm’ that may need bucking in terms of the kind of food that you serve.
We aren’t traditionalists when it comes to our Shabbat table (maybe it’s my 12 years as a vegetarian, but I just can’t bring myself to serve chicken, cholent and kugel week after week. Blah.) – but is brisket or chicken even a realistic possibility every week, when you’re having guests as well? Can we serve animal protein that is a component vs. a main course without seeming “nebach” in the eyes of others?
As someone who is just doing this challenge for a week, I’m pondering the long-term impact of living with these restrictions, as well.
By the way, it’s not just Shabbat. Even snack food for kids on playdates has become a consideration. I’m definitely more aware of offering foods that fill a child’s belly – complex grains, protein, fruit – than ever before. “Fruit snacks”, for example, aren’t fruit – they’re candy. An apple, especially with a shmear of peanut butter, goes a lot longer – for about the same cost (and number of calories, by the way.)
On a related note, my stepmom’s family is in town this week and they invited us to dinner at their house tonight. We hemmed and hawed about it since we are “on the Challenge”. In the end, we’re going – it’s family! – but since I planned and purchased for this meal, I’m going to keep our budget as is. (The tofu stir fry will be served next week.)
One other thing – I caught an interesting story on our local news last night. Kansas City’s Truman Medical Centers, together with the Hospital Hill Economic Development Corp., has come up with a solution to the problem of “food deserts” (urban areas that lack access to a traditional grocery store and fresh produce).
They’ve outfitted a former public bus to be a traveling produce store called the Mobile Market.
It’s like a book mobile, but for fruits and veggies. From what I heard, the prices seem good – they mentioned, for example, that melons were $1.25 each. The bus will be selling produce two days a week and will have licensed nutritionists and dietitians onboard to talk about making healthy choices.
You can read more about the Mobile Market here. (They didn’t mention on the piece if the produce bus will accept SNAP – I’d be curious to know!)
How are the rest of my SNAP4aWeek buddies doing? I am eager to hear about your thoughts and experiences as well!