After receiving an email from a friend who wondered if I’d survived the food stamp challenge, I realized that a final update might be in order. The media continue to report on Oregon’s governor’s participation in the challenge, which I’m glad to see. I’ll believe we’ve talked about it enough the day that every family in the US has adequate food resources and doesn’t need to fear poverty-induced hunger.
For my part, I did pretty much make it through the week. I didn’t go over budget, but that was in large part due to two factors: free food and long work hours.
I started the week with free food last Sunday. I ended the week with free food Friday night and all day Saturday; I attended Renn Fayre at Reed College on Friday night, and Saturday I drove home to Roseburg to visit my family–in the process spending $40 on gasoline to get to my food for the day. Lunch on Wednesday was compliments of my boyfriend.
The other factor that helped me stay within my budget was the fact that I worked around 70 hours last week. (This also kept me from writing regularly about the food stamp challenge.) A lot of meals simply didn’t happen because I didn’t have time to eat, and when I did, it was with an awareness of the functional role of food in getting things done. Another bowl of black beans or yogurt was simply a step in being able to get my grant work plans done. If I’d had more free time, I could have had more variety in my diet–and maybe used more of the fresh foods I had on hand. The tomatoes, potatoes, onion, and chilis are all left, and most of the cheese is as well. I ate oatmeal, yogurt, apples, and black beans for most of my meals last week, although generally not all at once.
I think that the coincidence of working so much during the food stamp challenge may actually have been helpful. It was as if I was working a couple jobs, which is where a lot of low-income people are at. Last fall, at a Portland City Club debate between Kulongoski and Republican candidate Ron Saxton, Gov. Kulongoski misspoke when listing his accomplishments as governor and wound up saying “more people have more jobs.” It was kind of funny at the time, but it’s true in Oregon and elsewhere. More people do have more jobs, and that impacts their lives on a basic level while still failing to move them out of poverty.
Chris did well; in fact, he had enough money left that he bought donuts for the office on Friday. More free food for me.