RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – September is Hunger Action Month and to spread the word, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is challenging people to shop frugally for a week.
They’re supposed to buy food with the same amount given to the average food stamp recipient in North Carolina. WNCN caught up with one participant while she was cooking dinner.
“Normally I would put things like a green pepper, some diced tomatoes in my pasta sauce, but couldn’t afford them this time,” said Molly Rivera while she was making a sauce for pasta.
Rivera is on day one of the FNS Challenge, or Food and Nutrition Services Challenge. She and others across the state are tightening their belts to step into the shoes of those who qualify for what we know as food stamps.
“Raise awareness of what it feels like to be food insecure, which means what it feels like to not always know that you’re going to be able to eat a healthy, full meal that day,” said Rivera.
Her food budget for the week for two people is about $59. It’s taken her a lot of planning, but after shopping for all her groceries Sunday, she came in just under the limit.
“Went around the store with my calculator and my pen and my list, writing down the price of every single thing comparing the prices between two different brands, even stores, I went to two different stores today,” she said.
When you break down the budget you’re allotted about $4.21 a day. We wanted to see what that could get us at a local grocery store, so we went shopping. We bought a zucchini, a pack of Ramen noodles, some canned chicken, and some canned diced tomatoes. We figured it might make a decent pasta. But it was only one meal for a whole day. It just goes to show how difficult living on such a tight budget can be.
“Not only is it difficult to eat healthy, fresh, nutritious food, but it really wears you down. It drains your energy, it drains your spirit,” said Rivera.
On the challenge, Rivera isn’t allowed to order take-out or go out to eat, because the average FNS recipient can’t afford it.
“When you are on a really limited budget and you don’t have that much in your bank account that’s really not an option,” she said.
If you’d like to learn more about the challenge or the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, click here.