Are There No Pantries? No Food Stamps?

In the random randomness of yesterday’s post I forgot to tell you guys that I lost 3.6 pounds last week! I was pretty amazed, since I didn’t think my food decisions were very good.

In all honesty, it has been hard for Nikki and I to eat well when we are so low on funds. We were just talking about this this morning when discussing our breakfast options. I have a big thing of plain oats and I was going to try some new oatmeal recipes that I have seen online. Most of these recipes require the liquid added to be almond milk or the like (I know I can cook them with just water and that is probably what I will end up doing). Nikki’s point was, why don’t we buy the box of 10 packets of instant oatmeal that is $1.89 rather than a carton of milk which is usually >$2? I agree that it is a very good point. How do you eat organic and natural things when you can’t afford the extra $3? Now, Nikki and I are very blessed. We are always able to pay our bills and we usually are able to stick to a tight budget that includes money for fresh fruits and vegetables. We are lagging behind because January is always a hard month in our respective professions. It is the accumulation of Christmas gifts and unexpected bills and a looooong stretch between pay periods.

This experience has allowed me to think about what other families, who aren’t as blessed with good jobs, do to eat healthy. Why is it such a burden? What message do we send our well meaning mothers and fathers when we price a “party pizza” at $1 and a bunch of kale at $4? The change in eating habits is feasible for my family because we don’t have any kids. How on earth will I make these decisions when we do? I better get to work on that garden I have been daydreaming about, I can tell you that.

I don’t mean to make excuses, or blame the food companies. There are better, more educated people out there to do that for me. I just wanted to share with you what was on my heart at the moment. I do honestly worry about families who truly want the best health for their kids but don’t think they can provide it.  How can we help them?

How would Mr. Scrooge react to that question? “Are there no pantries? No food stamps?” Do these organizations provide healthy food to their participants? In truth, they are usually under funded and take whatever donations they can get. Usually these are canned goods, which in actuality are not that bad. A can of green beans is definitely better than peaches in heavy syrup, but the pantry will take whatever they can get. I also found (from our local pantry’s website) that they can only aid a family with groceries two times a year. I tried my best to find out more about the food stamps program, but I could not tell from their website if there were guidelines pertaining to the food bought. My assumption is that there isn’t, but if anyone knows differently please let me know. The reason I worry about the families that are trying is that it is becoming very trendy right now to make parents feel guilty for what they feed their kids. Most of this is warranted as I know there are parents out there who would use a sugar cube as a pacifier, but it makes me hurt for the parents who are really trying and doing the best they can and still feel the humongous weight of guilt. I have felt just a pang of it in these last few weeks because I can’t take Nikki out to eat and provide her with a satisfying lunch every day. She told me the other day “You should be used to this because you used to let your account get down to $.50 when you were a bachelor.” I said, “I know, but I have a family now.”

I don’t really have answers to all of the questions I am posing, I just wanted to share with you what was on my mind at the moment. Also, I was hoping to open up some kind of discussion in the comments. I have a very small corner of the internet, but I really hope and pray that my little website can provide encouragement and help alongside entertainment. I wanted to end today by showing you a picture of my dear sweet nephew Ben.


I saw this picture the other day and was reminded about how small we all are amidst the giant, staggering beauty that is nature. It gives me hope that the sunshine touches us all, no matter how small. It reminded me that the small gesture of children’s raised in greeting can beat back the swell of adult problems. It reminded me that Ben isn’t even my own son, but I love him more than anything and want the best for him. I can use that feeling to assume the feelings I will have for my own children and hope that I can provide them life, and health and happiness. I think that is probably all that any parents want. How can we help them achieve that when they can’t afford organic and natural foods? How do we help when cake is cheaper than carrots?

How can we be their healthy eating sunshine?


12 responses

  1. It is astounding to me that fresh, natural food costs more than processed, packaged food. It seems like it should be just the opposite. Actually, it should be just the opposite.

  2. They touched on this in that food inc. documentary. I think this is why a large portion of the south is overweight. Processed food is cheaper because it can be mass produced. But hey, congrats on the weight loss!

    • Thank you. I will have to watch that documentary. But, what are the implications for people who truly can’t afford to feed their kids better? What do they do if they’ve exhausted all options? This is the crux of what I was thinking about when I wrote this post. I may not have conveyed it well.

      • There are ways to work around it. Maybe you can’t buy all organic at whole foods, but you can choose healthier options. Also not letting your kids live a sedentary lifestyle would help too.

  3. Junk food is less expensive than healthy food and that is definitely not right, but as Ryan said, there are some things you can do to economize and still buy healthy. I know there are some things that the “experts” say you should always buy organic, but I never buy organic and I’ve managed to make it to 54 without getting sick. Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they are in season. When they’re not in season, buy frozen. Frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy as long as there is no added sugar, etc. Buying canned is not a terrible option. You can rinse canned vegetables to get rid of some of the salt and you can buy fruits packed in fruit juice. Also, dried beans are usually fairly inexpensive and you can use them in a lot of different things such as soup or eat them with brown rice and vegetables.

    January is always tough for me, too, so I know just how you feel. But then things always get better in February (the short month!!!!) so just hang on. And give yourself a big pat on the back for losing that weight.

    • I totally agree. I guess the point I was crudely trying to make in this post was to wonder why do people still feed their children unhealthy items? I think what they really need is more education. There should be a nutrition class (maybe starting in junior high) that will explain how to check nutrition facts and how to pick out the right fruits and vegetables and how to calculate how many calories we might need in a day. That way everyone can know that that can of green beans might be better than the pringles. I think that is the real problem, people just aren’t educated about food and really don’t think they can do better.

  4. Evan, I suggest watching Food, Inc. too. It does hit on a lot of the points you mention in your post. It is very disheartening to know that bad choices are much cheaper, and they are full of sugar, salt, and fat that we shouldn’t eat. What kid wouldn’t want to eat Cheese Puffs over raw carrots? Education is always the place to start. Kids and parents need to be more knowledgeable about where food comes from and what effect certain foods have on the body. Some people don’t realize what a McNugget is really made from! If they knew it would probably change their eating habits.

    • I know! I’ll never forget that episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution where he had a group of American kids and he showed them exactly where they get chicken nuggets from. He showed that it is pretty much a slurry of the leftover parts from the chicken, then he patted them out, fried them and asked “How many of you would still eat this?” and every kid raised their hands. He was flabbergasted. He said that he had done that experiment several different times and the American children were the only ones that said they would still eat the nugget.

      Ok, Food Inc. is now at the top of my Netflix queue.

      • Ok, so here is the rest of my comment. I thought it might be offensive, but Evan convinced me that it was good to have more discussion:

        While education is a place to start, parents who either don’t care or don’t understand how food choices affect their children are out there. A person who is not intelligent and doesn’t (or can’t) comprehend the supply chain of our food would just pass on bad habits to their kids. I worry that it is a vicious circle in that kids growing up eating bad foods because their parents don’t have the money or motivation to purchase better food will continue the trend into their adult lives and pass it along to their children. Which means our food suppliers need to get it together and make better food at a reasonable price because some people just won’t ever “get it.” (We could also talk about whether it is even the food suppliers or our responsibility to break this cycle for others – there could be religious reasons, governmental reasons, financial reasons to be responsible or not. Also, is there something to be said for natural selection? Poor taste, I know.) I noticed that Hot Pockets have whole grain “pockets” now, and Bagel Bites are whole grain bagels. Some potato chips say they have no saturated fats. I think there’s definitely a trend to make even junk food better for people, but I don’t know if it is having an impact on the health of our nation.

      • You also have to look at the guidelines that products have to follow to get to put “whole grain” on their packaging. I have a feeling that they are not very stringent. Just the least amount of effort to satire the masses.

        Is there something to be said for unnatural selection?

  5. I kid, I kid. You’re right about checking what words like “natural,” “organic,” etc. and the meaning on packaging. I guess you could say McNuggets are “natural!”

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