It's Day 2 of the week-long Greater Philadelphia Food Stamp Challenge, sponsored by the Philadelphia Coalition for Hunger and the Jewish Federation, and I gotta tell you: I'm hungry.
Make that hollow.
I'm learning that $35 a week. or $5 a day -- the average food stamp benefit a Philadelphian receives, doesn't amount to a whole lot of food.
Among the items I purchased for the challenge were a roast chicken, potatoes, asparagus, ground beef, pasta, oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly and bread. For the past two days, my meals have consisted of oatmeal for breakfast, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and chicken, mashed potatoes and asparagus for dinner. Last night, I went to bed with a growling stomach.
I racked my brain trying to figure out how I would budget my $35. But it's just as challenging to eat the same meals day in and day out, feeling constrained by set food choices and coping with that constant hollow feeling, something that food-insecure people deal with on a daily basis.
Mayor Nutter and Congressman Bob Brady are taking the challenge, too. Brady reported today that he had a dinner of chicken, carrots, lettuce and a cup of tea yesterday. "It wasn't filling, but I got through the night," Brady said. "And, this morning's breakfast of bran cereal did not take the place of eggs, hash browns and sausage. Today, election day, is going to be a real challenge."