For just over a year now, I have shared my personal struggles and solutions to some of my problems here on Poor Girl Eats Well. Though it's become quite the creative outlet for me, the bottom line is that this is for real. I don't pretend to be "poor" because it's the plight du jour and will gain a lot of readers like some folks have done. I truly have a hard time making ends meet most of the time; I sometimes count change to buy some tomatoes and cat food; and I make the most of every single ingredient I'm lucky enough to have in my kitchen. In fact, I'm already cringing at the thought of the next few weeks, as my lovely couple of months of pre-paid rent has come to an end and I am feeling the pains of being a temp. Sure, I make everything look and taste really good on my little site, but I do have to work quite a bit to get to that point within my limited means.
The sad part is that I'm one of the lucky ones. There are millions of Americans who struggle each day with real hunger, the kind that cannot even be calmed with creative recipes because there just is nothing to get creative with, nor the means to get it. In fact, 35 million Americans are currently receiving food stamps, which are not always easy to get due to income restrictions. Though 5.3 million Californians alone live below the federal poverty line, which is just a little over $21,000/yr for a family of four, a single person like me would only qualify for food stamp assistance if my income amounted to $14,079 or less (statistics courtesy of http://www.hungerchallenge.com/). That's $7.33/hr. That's not even the state's minimum wage, and certainly not enough to cover the cost of living in California. You can see that there is not only a huge amount of people who are unable to afford all the costs of living, including food; it is also plainly evident that there is a huge gap in the system that doesn't even cover what those in financial limbo face everyday.
Because of my own difficulties; because of the touching emails I've received from real readers who are truly appreciative of PGEW and the info I share because it's helped them get through serious rough patches; and the attention from local community organizations that have requested my help in speaking at conferences dealing with issues that eventually deal with hunger & how to help overcome it, I have decided to join the San Francisco Food Bank's Hunger Challenge, a one week challenge to see if one can live on just $4 per day. From September 20-26th, bloggers, chefs, and even a San Francisco TV news personality will do their best to live on $4 a day, which is what food stamps would cover for an average Californian. This event helps to bring awareness to others about the hunger epidemic in our country, which is desperately needed in this day & age. So many have been facing these challenges - and worse - for years, and many more are joining them so that it seems there is not an end in sight. There is a definite problem here.
Again, I consider myself extremely lucky. I have a job, temporary or otherwise. I have relatively permanent shelter. I have the resources & confidence to make sure I don't go hungry. Not everyone in this state, or even the nation, can say the same. But because I'm like a lot of Americans nowadays, just a paycheck or less away from needing assistance that I probably won't qualify for, I know a little bit of what it can be like. And I want to be able to help others see that if they do have a few resources, they can also make life a little less bland by at least enjoying a meal or two. Plus, it helps to keep things in perspective. Things may seem bad, but sadly there's always someone who might be going through worse. It's good to try and truly enjoy what you have.
What does this mean for PGEW.com this week?
Since I can't start on Sunday, I will start the challenge on Monday the 21st and try to do it for the whole week. I'll probably update daily about what I've had for the day, which will, of course, include a few of the lower cost PGEW recipes, and I may post at least one new recipe - if I can make it work within my $4 budget. I'll also update on Facebook & Twitter regularly.
If you'd like to join the Hunger Challenge so that you can also help bring awareness to this important cause, you can visit http://www.hungerchallenge.com/ for more details.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I'm off to San Jose for a visit with mom (which will include a belated birthday sushi lunch on Saturday - yay!), and then it's time to buckle down and see what so many people have to live through each day.
Thanks in advance for your support on this!