News / Economy

Family Tastes Life on Food Assistance

Family Tastes Life on Food Assistancei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Steve Baragona
December 10, 2012 4:13 PM
A record number of Americans - 47 million people, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture - rely on government assistance to keep from going hungry.The program provides a small stipend for food, but warding off hunger can be challenging on such a tight budget. VOA's Steve Baragona visited one family that gave it a try.
Family Tastes Life on Food Assistance
A record number of Americans - 47 million people, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture - rely on government assistance to keep from going hungry.

The US government provides a small stipend for food, but warding off hunger can be challenging on such a tight budget.

Laura Kahn recently got a taste of what it's like to live on food assistance, after volunteering to take the Hunger Challenge.

Kahn, who loves to cook, prepared meals for herself and her husband for about $4 each per day. That’s the average government food aid benefit. It’s less than half of what the typical American couple spends daily on food.

And that’s the point of the Hunger Challenge, says Charles Meng, executive director of the Arlington Food Assistance Center, a nearby food bank.

“All of a sudden you can understand those tradeoffs that our families make on a daily basis,” Meng says.

Tradeoffs like giving up most fresh fruits and vegetables for canned.

"A fresh apple might be five cents or 10 cents more expensive than the applesauce that's already canned," Kahn says, "which doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're on $4.03 a day, three cents here, 10 cents here, it all adds up."
   
Even brand-name canned foods had to go and so did the flavors she liked.

“[There is a] tremendous flavor difference," Kahn says. "You almost have to add some sort of spice to the store-brand tomatoes in order to make them taste the same.”

Most red meat had to go, too, so their protein often came from beans.

“I’ve got black beans, red beans," Kahn says, "got our pinto beans, got our lentils.”

After conducting a great deal of research to keep her recipes on budget, she drew up detailed charts listing the per-serving cost of every ingredient.

“It was a lot of work," Kahn says. "I enjoy it because I enjoy numbers, but your average person is probably not going to do this.”

But it helped her come up with meals which were healthy, tasty, filling and cheap. One recent dinner, a potato-zucchini-egg frittata, cost about a dollar per serving.

“Yeah, it’s really good,” says Kahn's husband, Aaron, who adds they've not sacrificed on taste. But, "I’ve also seen all the work that Laura put into it. And I can’t believe the amount of effort it takes to eat on such a tight budget.”

And Laura Kahn says it was an eye-opening experience for her, too.

“I’ve never had to think about where my next meal comes from and I think that it can be a tremendous amount of stress on people," she says. "And I think I realize that more by having lived it.”

After a week of low-budget cooking, Kahn ended the challenge with greater respect for those who have to live on government food assistance, people who face the hunger challenge all year round.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.