Editor’s Note: Deb Heinrich, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s liaison to the state’s nonprofit community, agreed to take the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge this month and live on $4 a day for food for a week. We are posting her experience in this blog over the next few days. In this entry, Deb recounted the social isolation of people who are food insecure.
Looking at my schedule today, I realized that I was going to have to make the bulk of my food this morning since I would be gone most of the day (church, kids’ soccer, 9/11 Memorials, etc,). We would have to go right from church to soccer so I’d need to bring a lunch.
So I set the alarm an hour earlier and got to work in the kitchen. First I made some oatmeal for breakfast. Though this was the real oats that you make on the stove, I was thinking of the portions that come in those little instant oatmeals. I figured that one of those little portions would never keep me through lunch. So I made two portions of oatmeal. Well, the real stuff makes more than those little packets and it turned out that two portions of oatmeal was WAY too much food for me this morning. I put some brown sugar on it and ate it all anyway. Live and learn.
While that was cooking, I cut up an onion and half the jalapeno, sautéed them, added some salt and started cooking them with the black beans. They needed to simmer for an hour and a half. That would be for dinner (black beans and rice with salsa). I made a big pot so that I could save what I didn’t eat for future meals. Then I made my lunch: three large celery sticks loaded with peanut butter. I’m not a huge fan of celery, but the alternative vehicles for peanut butter were not as economical. Then I hit the shower and started the day.
End of the Day Thoughts
I wasn’t hungry during the day today. The oatmeal was very filling and kept me to lunch just fine. Lunch was interesting, though. Our church had an after service picnic. I, of course, ate the lunch I brought. It started me thinking about our culture and the integral sociology of sharing a meal. How many times have I caught up with friends over coffee and a bagel or met someone for lunch at a local restaurant or even had a working lunch with colleagues. Close friends visit each other for dinner meals, families connecting and bonding. I realize that with limited food, there will be no invitations for friends to join me at my home to eat. I simply cannot spare the food. I also cannot make the meals I normally would make for guests. I cannot imagine feeding a guest peanut butter and celery. If my children brought home a friend from school, they would not be able to raid the refrigerator or snack cabinet. There would be no homemade cookies waiting on the counter. Food and sharing it is a fundamental part of our social interactions and bonding. I can only imagine the isolation that I would feel if this were not simply an exercise for one week and if it were to last months on end.