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Eating Vegan Below the Poverty Line, Part 4, Final Installment

Monday, December 21, 2020

Saturday December 12th was the last day of my little experiment. It was also the day that my neighbor took me to where she picks up her boxes of food for the week. The first location was at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. It is a drive through distribution set up with many volunteers. We were directed into a line and told to pop the trunk. It took about 20 minutes to make our way to the front and volunteers dropped three boxes into the trunk and that was pretty much it. She told me that typically there are only two boxes, but it was double veggie day, hence the third box. The following is a list of what was in her boxes.

Fresh Veggies:
2-5lb bags of red potatoes
2-3lb bags of onions
2-2lb bags of carrots

Canned and Dry Goods:
2-1lb boxes of spaghetti
2-1lb bags of black beans
2-1lb bags of white rice
2 cans of Hunts pasta sauce
3 cans of Chef Boyardee Ravioli
2 cans tuna fish
2 boxes of macaroni and cheese
4 cans of unsweetened applesauce
2 cans of mixed vegetables
2 cans of chicken broth
1 can of beef stew

I was a little surprised at the lack of fresh fruit, but overall it is quite a bit of food. Clearly there were a lot of items in the canned and dry goods that a vegan could not use, but those can easily be donated back to a food pantry or to neighbors in need. My neighbor took me to one other pantry, much smaller at a church, where she got more canned food (more tuna, canned soup, more pasta sauce), bread, cereal, milk, and even diapers and socks for her grandbabies.

While I did manage to eat vegan and survive on $10.50 for the entire week, it was very difficult. The quality of the food I had to purchase was poor and my diet was nutrient deficient in every area except for fiber and carbohydrates. I had no energy by the end of the week and generally felt terrible. One of my Spark friends, MRSLIVINGWELL, commented that "all legislators should have to try this". I cannot agree more. After having done this I think any elected official that is involved in making decisions about federal food assistance (SNAP) should have to live this way for a week. It is quite an eye opener. I am so grateful that there are programs and food pantries that can help out and I will be making regular contributions to pantries in my area from this day forward. EVERYBODY deserves access to nutritious food.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    This is important - so glad I read it! emoticon
    6 days ago
    Fantastic and I have to go back and read the others. Thank you!

    Edit to add: Senator Cory Booker tried this! He's a fantastic vegan role model!
    99 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/12/2021 8:22:06 PM
    118 days ago
    Walk a mile in anyones shoes.. we all have a story to tell..
    122 days ago
    We donate to the self help food bank in town. People who want to belong must pay a $10/month membership and donate 10 hours of time each month. Then they can get weekly groceries. Once they had a campaign where they were asking for pads and tampons - dire need! I got some and took them in but when I got there I saw a TON of them. They said they received an overwhelming response from the community. So, now I donate money they can use to purchase what they need. It is a great system!
    122 days ago
    Glad you were able to have this experience!
    122 days ago
    My husband and I have been making monetary donations to a food bank but we decided to get a large order from a warehouse type store to donate to the church up the street that distributes food boxes once a week. What they asked for was pretty close to what you have described. Possibly lack of refrigeration is why they don't give out much way in the way of fresh food. I am so glad that those who can, are donating to food efforts. I agree with you and MRSLIVINGWELL. I think there is sometimes a feeling that, if you aren't working to support yourself, you don't deserve good things. I saw a comment somewhere (Facebook?) where the poster said that there were comments being made about people in food lines in nice clothes. She said that she had donated bags of "nice" clothes to a local thrift shop. Too much judgment out there. Lots of reasons why someone may not be in the job force, especially now. I wish society would reach out with help rather than a slap. emoticon
    122 days ago
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