Saturday, March 3, 2012

The $27.35 Challenge

My husband who many of you know is a Veterinarian during the day, is also the Mayor of our small town. As Mayor he is often asked to participate in community events. Recently he was contacted by Hunger Free Sherburne County to participate in their Hunger Challenge. Following is an excerpt from their flyer.

The Hunger Challenge – Living on a Food Support Budget is an awareness campaign led by Hunger Free Sherburne County. This coalition of community leaders is hoping to make others aware of the circumstances and challenges many food support recipients face. Each year 100 million meals are missed by families in Minnesota. Food shelves and other organizations are working together to help close the gap on those missing meals. In Minnesota, the average amount received per person per week in food support is $27.35.
 Participation Guidelines

Your participation will give you insight into what its like for millions of Americans struggling with reduced incomes and what it’s like to 'walk in their shoes'. It is a very effective way for you and your family to learn about the physical, emotional and social difficulties of poverty and food insecurity. Should you choose to accept this challenge, you can be certain that your trip to the grocery store will never look the same.

1. Each person should only spend a total of $27.35 [or $3.91 per day] on food and beverages during the week of March 4th – 10th.
2. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
3. During the Challenge, only eat food and beverages that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).
4. Avoid accepting free food and beverages from friends, family, or at work.
5. Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.
6. Please be available to meet with the Hunger Free coalition and members of the media on Tuesday, March 13th from 4:30 – 5:30
Initially my husband did not intend to participate, because he is married to an avid couponer he didn't think it was much of a challenge. Then the paper contacted him to see if he was participating, and wanted to interview him on the experience, one thing led to another and hear we are.

As a family of 4 the challenge would allow us to spend $109.40 ($27.35 x 4) for a weeks worth of meals. How is that a challenge? I wanted to try to do the entire family for a total of $27.35, but my husband didn't think that extreme couponing our way through it would show that it is possible for anyone, so we decided to do it for $54.70 ($27.35 x 2). Since my children recieve lunch at daycare as part of my employment benefits, they would be in violation of #4. So we are eliminating their $54.70 ($27.35x2) even though they will be provided breakfast and dinner using the original $54.70 budget (I hope that isn't too confusing for you.)

*** Full disclosure here. $54.70 still exceeds my "average" weekly grocery budget. Since the rules do not allow me to use my pantry items or convienence meals in the freezer, I will be forced to buy certain staple items at **gulp** full price! So it will still be a challenge.

I am hopeful that our family's experience shows many people that it is possible to provide your family with a well balanced diet, on a budget.  Before having this sprung on me, I had decided that next week would be a pantry week, meaning no $$$ spent, the first of the month is usually a tough one for us as all of our bills get paid, and cash is tight. So I am struggling to be optomistic about participating in this challenge. We have worked hard to pay off a lot of debt over that past few years and are very careful with our spending, it is very difficult to spend $$ I don't have to.

Special thanks to Karen and Carrie who's blogs have been helping my family save $1000's for the past 2 years.

To follow our week you can read these links: Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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