About this Blog

Welcome! Thanks for checking out On Food Stamps.

I created this blog in 2009 when I began working at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. My work at this organization opened my eyes to food justice issues in America, and I had a strong desire to better understand the difficulties many people face when trying to access healthy food on a limited budget. So, I embarked on my own Food Stamp Challenge, living on $31/week as a vegan. I used this blog to chronicle my experience.

While my Food Stamp Challenge project has come to an end, you can see what I learned from it by reading the Greatest Hits posts linked to the right side of the page. Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.

Stay Hungry,


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Leftovers for Lunch

Today was a pretty good eating day.

I just got back from a dinner out with a friend and her mother. This is the first time I have eaten in a restaurant in quite awhile, so it was an interesting experience.

First of all there was the awkwardness of paying. When my friend invited me, she knew that even our old stand by Indian restaurant was out of my price range right now ($7.95 entrees... no can do). I wasn't able to gracefully accept her invitation as I would have liked to. When she invited me she immediately told me that her mom wanted to pay, that I wouldn't have to skip 2 meals to make up for it. I felt a certain degree of discomfort in the whole exchange, and this is just a project for me. $31/week for food is my reality right now, but it is a project I have taken on voluntarily. The fact that I still felt a bit ashamed of not being able to accept an invitation to dinner without talking about the money issue gives just a tiny hint as to how socially isolating an involuntary tight budget can be.

Second, I had a totally new view of the portion sizes. After three weeks of careful food rationing, I have really gotten used to smaller portions. This is probably a good thing. I am not starving on this vegan diet by any means. Even though I have to carefully ration my food and plan it out, there is always enough to leave me satisfied, if not full. When I see a pile of food in front of me now, I think about it in terms of meals. As in, how many meals can I get out of this? instead of my former eat until I'm stuffed and see what's left over mentality. Now that I am used to $31/week rationing, I realize I was eating more than I needed to before. So, going to a restaurant I really noticed how large the portions were. I left the restaurant feeling extremely full, but I still had enough food left over to pack into a very generous lunch for tomorrow.

Of course, it didn't even cross my mind to walk out without having those leftovers packed for tomorrow, down to the last 1/4 piece of Naan. Food is so precious to me that that kind of waste would be unthinkable.

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