This was an interesting year for the Koeppel Family. For the first time in 10 years, we have had to apply for WIC and Food Stamps. While it has been humbling to say the least - it brought me to an interesting idea about something that would benefit the government.
I think it would be interesting to do a study on how people spend their food stamps. I stumbled on this idea while working on our monthly menu. This is something I've done for a while - albeit on a weekly basis before, now I know that $455 a month sounds like a ton of money to a teenager or a child, but to feed a family of five I need to make every penny count. So as I sat down and worked on my menu and on my grocery list - it looked a lot like this:
BAKING AND COOKING GOODS:
veg. oil; olive oil; flour (white and wheat) and sugars (brown and white); baking soda, garlic salt, bullion (beef and chicken).
milk; eggs (6 doz); sour cream (4), cheese (sliced, grated, and block);
This continued on into meats; frozen vegetables; grains and legumes; beverages (TEA obviously, I must have hot tea); cereals, etc . . . All of the things on my list required me to cook them - thus allowing them to stretch further through the month - choosing to use my government assistance wisely. As I worked on this list (several times so I could refine it - even down to the aisles, since I know the commissary pretty well by now) I wondered how many of those on government assistance waste the money on convenience foods? Don't get me wrong I included goodies, like chicken nuggets and fries in my list, but they are a minimum. I realized that if you haven't grown up in a home where cooking was a priority, but you still needed to eat - that as an adult many people if they required government aid, were most likely continuing the trend - purchase convenience food - it doesn't last as long . . . I think you see where I am going here.
So here is my thought, why not do an audit or a study of those on food stamps - find out how they use them. If the study finds they use them for a lot of convenience food then send those to a class that teaches nutrition AND cooking. In doing this wouldn't it enable people to eat better, and make their money stretch further - thus helping in two ways. First, it would help cut down on the processed foods people put in their bodies. The occasional burger isn't going to kill you, it's when it is one of your main staples in your diet then it will cause problems. Processed foods have preservatives in them which we are finding are not helping us, they are higher in sodium, and as a general rule higher in fat and calories. In learning to eat better and implementing this into people's lives it would increase their health and quality of life. Second; it would make better use of the assistance the government is giving to them - saving money also by helping them have better health - thus decreasing the needs for higher medical bills (obviously this doesn't pertain to those who have disabilities or who have health issues that are non-weight related).
While it may not be an excellent idea - it's mine. It is in its infancy and I will continue to refine it and hopefully as time continues, then I might even be able to implement it. This idea also is for those who want to be healthy - who want to make their money stretch farther and who don't mind the work that goes into this idea.
I wish you all a happy 2011. May this year bring you a year of laughter - not tears; joy and only minimal suffering; may it be a great year of God's blessings for you all.
Love in Christ,