Today was another tiring day. Our group has managed to pack so much into the past 48 hours that frequently we have found ourselves forgetting that is is only Monday and we still have the rest of the week left in DC.
We started our day out with a trip to D.C. Central Kitchen. On their website they proclaim that “Through job training, meal distribution, and local farm partnerships, we’re building long-term solutions to the interconnected problems of poverty, hunger and homelessness.” Here’s a video that really explains more that I can really put to words (I’m so worn out by all that we’ve done my brain is only really working on half power…)
Most of us were stationed in the salad preparation station. My job was to peel and cut cucumbers and radishes. Other people were in charge of cutting up bread for croutons, peeling and grating carrots and two unlikely people got stuck chopping onions for the 3 hours that we were there..
After volunteering at D.C. Central Kitchen 9 of us ventured to Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital and 4 volunteered with Thrive DC.
I was part of the group that went to St. Elizabeth’s. We kinda took a “scenic detour” (aka we got lost) around Congress Heights– the neighborhood the hospital is in. After getting our daily workout in we got to St. Elizabeth’s. We ended up cleaning different areas– my group cleaned the transitional housing area to prepare it for Tuesday and Wednesday because they anticipate getting a large amount of people due to snow (I’ve heard rumors that they are supposed to get 8-12 inches… jeez Louise!). After we cleaned we got a brief history of the hospital. The hospital was founded in 1852 by the United States Congress. It was the first large scale federally run hospital in the United States. The hospital has housed thousands of patients over the year and since they are run by the government people can stay at the hospital even if they don’t have insurance (they actually encourage those with private insurance to go to different hospitals so that St. Elizabeth is able to provide care for those who would not be able to get it otherwise).
The lady who was our contact at St. Elizabeth, Maureen Jais-Mick, said that even though we spent our time while volunteering cleaning, we really did make a difference. She said that we would be surprised how much having nice, clean facilities can brighten someone’s day.
After we volunteered at St. Elizabeth’s our next mission was to buy groceries. Over the next three days we will be participating in the “SNAP challenge”. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as food stamps, assists low and no income persons in the United States with purchasing food. The SNAP challenge is basically where you live off the same amount that someone who was on food stamps would.
Our group of fourteen was divided in to 3 “families”, two groups of five and one group of four. The families of 5 received $80 to purchases groceries for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next three day and the family of four received $67. I was in the family of four.
We also followed by the rules that those on SNAP would have to follow. Here are just a few restrictions on what can be bought
- You cannot buy anything that is “ready to eat”
- You cannot buy anything that is intended to be eaten in the store (such as sandwiches from the deli and what not)
- You can only buy food that is consumed by humans (no pet food)
- You cannot buy tobacco or alcohol
At first it seems like the program would be easy — $67 for 12 meals for 4 people — totally doable. We started buying groceries and went on our way but as we added up our totals we realized that when it comes to ensuring all the food groups are met and you’re eating healthy is a lot more difficult when you have such a limited amount of funds. Restricting ourselves to a certain amount of money made us a lot more conscious of what we were purchasing– we opted for store brand over the luxurious name brand items and even had to put back some items at one point in time. We were able to stick to our budget and our meals are as follows:
Breakfast options: Cereal and milk, yogurt, or toast with peanut butter
Lunch Day 1: Peanut butter sandwiches, a bag of pretzels, and a banana
Lunch Day 2: Pasta left over from dinner
Lunch Day 3: Turkey sandwiches with a slice of cheese, pretzels and grapes
Dinner Day 1: Pasta with butter
Dinner Day Two: Tomato soup and grilled cheese
Dinner Day 3: Taco Night (potluck with the other “families”)
While we were able to stick to our budget and devise meals we found it challenging figuring out the groceries needed for three days– I can’t imagine doing that for a month at a time. It was really eye opening. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on our progress with SNAP
Here are some more pictures from our day
That’s all for now.
Until next time!