Thursday, September 8, 2011
Humble pie and pearl earrings. Day 1 of 7
Today was the start of my first Hunger Challenge. I packed my breakfast and lunch, and headed out of the door to work. The first thing that I noticed is how much lighter my lunch cooler was and I thought "uh-oh!" When I arrived to work, I looked inside to make sure that I had brought everything.
I spent $3.77 today for 3 meals and snacks, but I ran into pure luck when it came to the snacks. (including a "free" pear & candy gift aka +$0.60 included in this total)
Breakfast: Oatmeal, coffee (with regular sugar, not my normal agave), and a banana
Morning snack: 4 baby carrots (I wouldn't normally count, but today I only had a few - maybe 8 or 9 and wanted to save some for later)
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly
Afternoon snack: Free pear and free 2 pieces of chocolate. 5 more baby carrots.
Early evening snack: Free Pinkberry frozen yogurt with raspberries, mochi, and kiwi, free lemonade, free Goldfish crackers, free glass of white wine, free cookie.
Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with sauce and spinach, sauteed zucchini.
Leftovers that I didn't eat: Apple, free cookie, free Goldfish crackers, free flavored water.
Overall: I worried most of the morning that I didn't have enough food and I'd get hungry at some point. Then I worried about timing out my meals and also drinking enough water. I already drink a lot of water but I was gonna drink more to feel full. I felt sick right before lunchtime because I was thinking about my PB&J for so long and holding off eating it. I ate especially slow so it would fill me up.
I wanted caffeine and/or sugar in the afternoon after a busy day. My colleague must have been able to see it on my face, she gave me a pear from her backyard tree. Then a patient brought our office 3 boxes of See's candy. I know that I should count the cost of the pear and the candy into my total if I was being strict - so likely 50 cents for the pear and 10-20 cents for the two pieces of chocolate, still under budget.
I stopped at the mall to buy some makeup and as I walked out of Bloomingdales no less, (on a food stamps budget and getting makeup at Bloomingdales! I NEVER shop there but what can I say, it was Clinique Bonus Time), there was a festival like atmosphere setup with vendors handing out free samples! It was Fashion's Night Out, a night of giveaways, modeling, makeovers, light bites and drinks!
I compromised and let go of one of my ideals for healthy eating. I decided in that moment to eat dairy, just this once this week, and I beelined it to the Pinkberry vendor, delicious frozen yogurt with fresh toppings! Veganism went out the window. I thought: I'm on food stamps, I'm poor, it's a lot of FREE food. I munched on a free, freshly baked cookie as I waited in line. And it's fresh raspberries! And kiwi! Things that a person like me can't buy on my budget! I got in the next line where I received a yummy lemonade. They had PRIME RIB appetizers, I could've had 8, but I didn't partake in any meat. I scanned the flyer where it listed every store and what they were offering. I played a ping pong game, throwing a ping pong ball into a fish bowl for a cup of free Goldfish (and to enter a raffle for a gift certificate). The store clerks thought I was just being enthusiastic about it all and they smiled and laughed, I brought them more business and attention by playing the silly game, but I REALLY DID WANT THE FREE CUP OF GOLDFISH CRACKERS! I went to another store, perused the shoes, and helped myself to a cookie to save for later.
As I was walking around store to store, the local Maserati dealership had 3 beautiful sports cars on display. Tesla also had a car out. The Maserati cars must have been over $200K, they were amazing! It was a weird place to be, amongst all of this wealth, and to be in the mindset of accepting the free samples of food and drinks because I was on a food stamps budget. As I waited in one of the lines, a Mom with her nicely dressed son who must have been around 7 years old also waited in front of me for a few minutes. Then, she left her son in the line, and tried to sneak up front. She did and waived him up to her, as she cut in line and was munching on the free prime rib and grabbing as much swag that she could. I thought to myself: 1. What an awful lesson to teach a kid, to cut in line. 2. She should be doing the Hunger Challenge with her kid!
When I got home tonight and unpacked the uneaten food that I had saved, I came across another gift. A beautiful pair of earrings that are white and pearlish looking, by a designer called Sheyna.
I felt so incredibly lucky and humbled, not only to happen upon this free event with food (which actually monies from the stores profits went to the Children's Hospital - and I had bought my makeup tonight from one of the participating stores), but to also have a kind colleague give me a pear from her backyard tree. For a patient to bring in chocolates for everyone as a thanks. There was a lot of gratitude in the air and I feel like I've already learned a lot, not even 24 hours in.
I also realized that I don't have to travel all the way to Tanzania to see poverty and hunger. It's right around us always, right here in our own community. I worked with a person today who told me that they live paycheck to paycheck, and a couple of times a year they have enough money to take their spouse out for a meal. As I listened I started to feel for the first time what it really means to not have enough money to buy food.