Hunger Challenge

Where am I?

September 18th, 2012 at 5:34 pm by under Hunger Challenge

Welcome to the 30 percent mark of the Hunger Challenge.

Here are a few examples of meals I’ve had this week so far:
Macaroni and Cheese with a hot dog
Leftover macaroni and cheese with a peanut butter sandwich
Pork and potatoes
Leftover potatoes and tuna with half a peanut butter sandwich

Everything tastes like pepper because that’s the only available seasoning. Otherwise, things end up fairly bland. I imagine that’s the life of a person living on SNAP benefits.

While I haven’t been unbearably hungry, I don’t think I’ve felt full or as satisfied as I usually do.

As I mentioned in the title, the greatest thing I’ve noticed is what I like to call the “Where am I?” factor. I’m typically on task throughout the day and very direct in my work; however, that is not the case this week. I walk into a room and forget what I’m doing. I attempting turning my car on without keys in the ignition. I’ve been lethargic, disoriented, and unfocused. Since I haven’t felt extremely hungry, I can’t blame this change on hunger alone, but I think a lack of fulfillment is contributing.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is continually worrying about my next meal. What will I have? Will it be enough? Should I eat less to save up for the remainder of the week?

People living on SNAP benefits likely have these thoughts routinely. They likely struggle with concentration, focus, and motivation, especially when they’re hungry and preoccupied with the search for their next meal.

For the last two days, co-workers have been eating a cake here in the office that one of our photographers brought it. I see it every time I get up from my desk. It seems to be serving as a reminder, for the moments when I forget, that the struggles and frustrations I’m having this week are nothing compared to those who live with these every day.

Through an e-mail chain, my fellow Hunger Challengers have taught me a great deal too as they learn through the week. I hope to share some of that with you in the coming days.

I’m off to workout on a semi-empty stomach. After that, I’ll make a dinner of two hotdogs on two pieces of bread and some rice. Having to make it all the way to breakfast on such a small meal definitely makes the evenings the most difficult. On top of that, there is more free time and calories being burned without any hope of being replenished till the morning.

“Mom, there’s nothing to eat”

September 15th, 2012 at 11:09 pm by under Hunger Challenge

As a child, I remember saying these five words to my mom on a nearly daily basis. Luckily for me, the statement was far from true. While I may not have seen the exact brand and flavor of potato chip I wanted or my favorite Pop-Tart filling, I always had something to eat. For that, I am thankful for my parents and their efforts to make sure I never went hungry; however, as I grow older, I am more and more aware of how difficult a task keeping a cupboard full is. As I approach the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Hunger Challenge, I know I’m about to become much more aware.

If you don’t know about the challenge, get ready! For the next seven days starting at midnight tonight (Saturday), here are the guidelines I’ll be following for my all food and meal choices.

  1. I will be limited to spending $29.27 for the entire week on food. That’s $4.18 for each of the seven days.
  2. I may not use any food that I have outside of what is available to me after I make my food purchases for this week. This includes spices, milk, leftovers and baking goods. Just to reiterate, I will ONLY eat things purchased with the $29.27.
  3. I will not, and cannot, take food hand outs. That means skipping Doughnut Friday at the news station, family dinners with my fabulous, extended Terre Haute family and the free coffee from work.

I said basic, and those are pretty basic. Here are some other basics:

  • 1 in 4 children struggle with hunger every day right here in the Wabash Valley;
  • 1 in 6 adults are food insecure, meaning they don’t know where they’ll find their next meal;
  • While food prices went up in the last year, SNAP assistance went down, meaning people receive less money per day for food.

Those three bullet points are three key reasons why I’m taking part in the United Ways second annual challenge. Adults and children alike are forced to live and eat by these dollar figures day after day, month after month.

For the first time in my life, I’ll eat each meal with concern of what’s remaining in my “pot” of available resources.

I’ve asked around to some “veterans” of the hunger challenge for advice.

  1. Crunchy peanut butter
  2. Avoid high end grocery stores
  3. Adjust to smaller portions
  4. Prepare for a difficult end to the week

It’s with many blessings that I can say that this challenge for me will end in a week. While I’m eating on less, I won’t have to decide between medication and food, feeding my pet and eating myself, buying gas for my car or getting dinner. For so many people around the Wabash Valley, it doesn’t end in just one week and the decisions are much more real.

So will you join me? Will you take the challenge alongside me and 49 of my friends around the Wabash Valley to see first hand the struggles that so many people work through daily?

Join in. And you can follow my journey here and on my Facebook page. If you’re joining in or have ideas for me, share them here or on my Facebook. (And, of course, you can always e-mail me at!) First on the docket is a trip to the grocery store. I’ll head there tomorrow morning. My hope is that there are big bargains tomorrow at the West Vigo IGA. I’ll update you soon!