Rev. Judith Medeiros, Tolland resident and Associate Pastor for the , has been living on $4 a day for the past week to help raise awareness during Hunger Awareness Month.
During September, Foodshare, Hartford’s Food Bank, has been encouraging people to take the SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) Challenge to experience what it feels like to be hungry. The designated amount of $4.00 is the supplemental allowance per person for those needing assistance.
“Shopping was the initial challenge,” said Rev. Medeiros. “I could not believe how quickly the food added up. I soon found myself having to choose between items. As the SNAP Challenge rules state that we are not to eat anything we already have in the house, I could not fall back on items I have in my kitchen, like salt or sugar. Not only was it difficult to not have the funds to buy those items, but to resist using them when they are sitting right on my table.”
“I planned a basic diet of oatmeal for breakfast with a tablespoon of peanut butter for protein. Lunch was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or once or twice a small salad. I was able to find a bag of lettuce on sale for a $1.49, but dressing was another matter. Dinner has been rice and beans and I have been able to stretch two cans of green beans over the week. To my dismay once I purchased what we would consider the staples, there was nothing left. In addition I had to purchase the most inexpensive items, which also meant the least nutritious. No more organic peanut butter, fruits and veggies! Oh, and no juice or seltzer – water would have to do.”
“But it was not just the cost of food and the inconvenience of a lack of variety. I found myself worrying and feeling the scarcity of the situation. I had to make these items last all week. Would I have enough bread? Would the food last that long or would I run out? The underlying anxiety was a constant presence; to worry everyday if there would be enough was exhausting. I can only imagine how draining it must be for a family.”
Rev. Medeiros engaged the SNAP Challenge as part of the church’s own Hunger Awareness month. Other challenges and opportunities will be available in October and November during what the United Church of Christ is calling “Mission: 1” (ucc.org/mission1).
Rev. Medeiros enthusiastically invited the Tolland County community to join in the food drive for Tolland Food Bank and The Tri-Town Food Pantry and reminds those who receive supplemental income that the food pantries are available to them. Items can be left at the church at 45 Tolland Green. Additionally, the church is taking up a collection for Famine Relief in East Africa. If any persons or businesses would like to participate in this cause, checks can be sent to the church with Famine in the memo. They are grateful to Willington Pizza’s owner Jeff Kelly who has offered to donate $1.00 for every large pizza ordered during the week of October 17. To read more about this and other Hunger Awareness opportunities, please see their website at www.ucctolland.org.