Follow along with Jackie Prins, taking the same challenge for the Press
More About the Hunger Challenge in The Rapidian and MLive
Samantha's Hunger Challenge: Introduction
The Rapidian's Hunger Aware
Other articles by the same author
Well, I made it through the last day of the challenge unscathed. I am leaving with leftover food, two long days of being sick,at least a semi-broken caffeine addiction, and new mixed feelings about the end, but still, I made it.
Let's do a food diary:
Breakfast: If you've been reading, you know this was toast. Peanut butter toast: I couldn't have done it without you.
Lunch/Dinner: I made soft shell tacos using refried beans, cheese and the hot sauce that came in the taco kit box. I had two for lunch then another one later on for dinner. Not great, not awful. Just your very basic soft shell taco.
Back to grocery shopping
After my tacos, it was time to go back to the grocery store to get something to eat for next week. It felt very strange and forbidden to even step foot into the store. I felt like I should still limit myself to that specific budget. Of course, my life keeps me on a budget not much higher than the one I was on, but my perceptions of food are changing.
I was now very conscious of the amount I was spending on each item. Things I used to think were a good deal suddenly seemed outrageous or unnecessary. I actually asked to have a few items put back after they were scanned, because they weren't on sale as I had thought. I've become that guy.
I ended up spending about $60.00 overall on groceries today, thinking they will last about 10 days, maybe a little longer. Of course, tomorrow I go back to free coffee and lunch at work, and being able to eat at my parent's house, back to my old pre-hunger life.
A few final thoughts
I went into this experiment expecting to learn one lesson and came out with a few unexpected ones. When I first heard of this assignment, I jumped at the chance to take it on. An assignment with the Press involved would be a unique (and hopefully resume boosting) opportunity for me as a student writer.
I only knew the very basics of hunger before taking on the assignment: I knew hunger existed, that hunger shouldn't exist and that they were many organizations made of individuals within our city trying to eradicate hunger. I knew about food stamps as a former user. I was the one who, probably foolishly, said "hunger issues aren't controversial."
Then the comments poured in. Suddenly, this was no longer a piece of fluff I was churning out to boost my own profile, learn a little along the way and tie up with a bow. This was way bigger than me. There were supporters and dissenters of the challenge itself, and many outspoken about the issues surrounding food assistance and the right way to handle the hunger problem in our city.
It stung a little to read that people were disagreeing so vehemently with what I was doing. I spent a couple days existentially lost within the challenge: what was the point?
It occurred to me that I could stand to learn something from the passion and knowledge of these individuals and their comments, both positive and negative. The comments I read each gave me new insight into an issue I now realize I have so much to learn about, so thanks to all who shared their opinions.
The challenge ended up meaning more to me personally than I thought it would. I feel differently about food and the way I've treated its availability to me so callously. The challenge of eating for a week with only $30.59 was physically hard, but emotionally harder.
Still, I'm glad I did it. This experience didn't give me the answers to the hunger problem, but it gave me the right questions.
And plenty of food for thought.
Samantha Dine is a graduate of GVSU with a degree in Professional Writing. She's a former intern for The Rapidian, and the founder of the food beat reporters. She loves food, hasn't met a vegetable she didn't like, and wholeheartedly believes in the healing nature of a cheese plate. She recently left GR for the great white north of the Mackinac Straits where she writes, swims, struggles with poor internet connection and carries an eternal torch for her hometown.
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