07 March 2011

Basic Human Needs

Wavy Gravy wrote a song called "Basic Human Needs", part of which goes:
Wouldn't it be neat
if the people that you meet
had shoes upon their feet
and something to eat?

And wouldn't it be fine
if all humankind
had shelter?

I went to see "Saint Misbehavin'" last Friday, a documentary about him. Learned quite a lot. I recommend it to everybody. We got to talk to Wavy and his wife after the film, via Skype(R), with some people reminiscing (he was born around here and lived here until his 20's) and others asking questions. This got me thinking about a number of things, including the hunger problem. I assist at a Foodshare mobile food pantry truck every fourth Thursday, and tonight is the kickoff for the SNAP into Action initiative.

I've been emailing with a friend about my plan to try the SNAP challenge this year. (My grandmother, by the way, issued dire warnings to me that I should not try the "Dollar a Day" challenge, "that's not for you." I told her that mostly I'm blogging about it, and it's $3 a day, but I'm not trying to live on it. I didn't exactly mention that I wouldn't be living on it permanently, but I am definitely planning to try it for a week, or however that works into my schedule.) My friend has pointed out that I'm not the target audience for this. I already know about buying food frugally and using my money wisely. This is part upbringing, as we didn't have a lot of money to spare when I was a kid and when I learned to cook it was cheaper cuts of meat and non-meat meals. As an adult on my own, I've had a number of times when money was stretched tight, or even stretched enough to get a bit holey. So I have fairly frugal habits as is.

I agree with him.

However, I pointed out, there are a lot of people who don't understand how low the amount is when you just have food stamps. How little you get. So I'm doing this not just to educate myself, but to (hopefully) educate others. So I won't just tell you how I eat on $3 (or less) a day, the way some blogs do. I'll compare it against what my normal food patterns are, and what someone who eats most of their meals out might be spending.

Of course, the people who really need to try this are legislators. The people who think that $3 is enough for a person. I've heard of legislators who've tried, but one made a big deal about how she went over the food allowance and decided to solve the problem by freezing half of her package of chicken for the following week, then subtracting that from her purchases. She completely misses the point that if you are given $21 for the week, that may be all you have that week. You can't go over your limit. (My friend suggested she try borrowing the money, and then have to figure out how to pay it back from the same $21 the next week. I said she should have to borrow at the usurious payday loan rates, not just from family and friends and colleagues.) So I'm going to try to buy at or slightly under the limit, and let people know how I'm doing. Maybe some legislator will pay attention.

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