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Sunday, March 21, 2010

What to do in a food money crisis situation

I've gotten a few e-mails from readers where they say they have run out of food and only have $20-$30 to buy groceries for their families for the next week, or even TWO weeks until payday. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to focus on the worst situation a reader asked me about, that I felt I could actually offer a viable solution to.. The reader lives in a family of four and she had only $25 to buy groceries for the next week. All of the food in her pantry was gone, except for some condiments in the fridge, two boxes of spaghetti noodles, and oddly enough, a can of sardines. Here is my advice to her, or anyone else in this situation:

There are many, many churches who will donate food to the needy. You will probably have to listen to some religious doctrine before you get the food, but they WILL eventually send you home with a decent amount of it.When you call the food bank, make sure to say that it is an EMERGENCY, meaning that your food supply is already gone, and that you have kids.

This won't work for everyone, but if you are pregnant and/or have children under 5 years old, you could be eligible for this program. The only problem with WIC, is that it can take a long time to get an appointment. Once you start getting the vouchers, expect to get: eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter or beans, bread, or rice, or whole grain tortillas, juice, $6 per month in fruits and vegetables, and 36 oz of cereal.

This option is harder to get than WIC, and unfortunately, can take up to three months to actually take effect. Once you get them, though, food stamps are great! I don't personally receive this benefit, but I have a friend who does. She gets $525 per month for her family of four. Seriously, with that much money for food, you can feast on steak every night! I know it is embarrassing to apply for welfare, but just try to remember that extraordinary circumstances have probably driven you to that option. Anyone can have a run of bad luck. It doesn't make someone less of a person if they need to ask for help for a while. What's bad is to not get the help when you need it!

Everyone has stuff in their house that they don't really want anymore, but that doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't want it! Maybe you have baby items, or baby clothes, books, movies, decorative items you're tired of, kitchen appliances you never use, an old TV that's just gathering dust somewhere. A yard sale won't make you rich, but it can certainly net you enough money to go food shopping!

I cannot stress enough the importance of having a constant reserve of food. Even just a supply of rice, beans, rolled oats, flour, yeast, dry milk and sugar can make it so you never have to actually go hungry. Add some canned fruits and vegetables, some dried fruits, and some canned meat to that and you have the makings of a feast! Never let it get to the point where you have no money and no food left again. No one should ever have to go hungry, not in a country with as much surplus food as the United States.

My next post will be about how to go shopping for a family of four for 2 weeks with only $25.


Cate said...

This is a great post. I love your reminder that there's nothing wrong for asking for help. Welfare has been painted as a bunch of crooks taking advantage of the system, when really I can't imagine anything further from the truth. You're right--anyone can have bad luck!

Anonymous said...

For your local readers I want to specifically say that Wesley United Methodist Church has a food bank. You will not have to listen to any religious docterine.

Beany said...

I would like to suggest the use of Angel Food Ministries. They provide a really great deal. For 30$, you are provided with a huge amount of food. They also accept food stamps and WIC for those that have access to those resources.

"By buying food from first rate suppliers at substantial volume discounts, Angel Food Ministries is able to provide families with approximately $65 worth of quality nutritious food for $30. Angel Food Ministries does not use out-of-date food or inferior products."

Anonymous said...

i've been following your blog for a while now but i'm finally getting around to commenting! these are great ideas, and i'm looking forward to reading your $25 menu. but in the situation that your reader described, the family needs the money NOW. my only concern is that many of the ideas you've mentioned take time to come through--applying for wic or food stamps, scheduling a yard sale; they take time and, for the assistance programs, they may not qualify. however, the food bank is a terrific idea, though, as is having the stocked pantry. i would thrown in a extra suggestion--look for a discount grocery store like aldi or sav-a-lot. you can definitely get a good deal on food to feed a family of four at that type of store.

Anonymous said...

Wish I'd seen this when it was first posted. I make a terrific pasta & sardines! Requires onion, garlic, seasoning, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese & olive oil, so maybe wouldn't have worked for your reader, but your post reminded me of it and it may end up being supper here...