Today in my local paper I read a brief announcement about a "Kids Care Food Packaging Event". People were encouraged to donate funds or volunteer their time to help package meals to be sent to local food banks in the area. I've heard of many churches and organizations that do this, both for local and worldwide food drives, and I think it is wonderful.
But what caught my eye was that this organization had worked with nutritionists to develop a food formula that provides "nutritionally complete" meals at a mere $0.25/ serving. They said you could literally feed 40 people for $10.
Seriously? What is this food? It is "comprised of rice, fortified soy protein, vegetables, and essential vitamins and minerals." Other foods that will be packaged and sealed are rice casseroles, bean and rice dishes, or macaroni and cheese. (Here's a link to the organization's website, with more info on how to help, what the food packaging process is like, etc.: http://www.outreachprogram.org/projects/food-program/ )
All I could think when I read this was, "I could feed one meal to 40 people for $10, but I struggle to keep my grocery bill for my family of 4 under $500/month." I'm not saying everyone SHOULD, but holy cow, I could feed my whole family for a whole day at that price for $3/day- $21/wk- $90/month. Granted, my "grocery bill" accounts for groceries, eating out, diapers, and coffee shops (and if you read my last entry, we are apparently guilty of exorbitant amounts of coffee "shopping")...but still. One month we spent over $700 in our grocery category...a far cry from $90.
Who knows, maybe I spend less than the average person on groceries- maybe more- not the point. Point is, I get excited because I can feed someone for $0.25, but am convicted when I ask if I am willing to feed MYSELF or MY FAMILY for anywhere near that price? I realize that sometimes I complain about my grocery bill, but maybe I need to take a radically different approach to some of the meals that I make. What if I fed myself and my kids a rice and bean meal sometimes- or heaven forbid!- once a day? Gracious, would that be irresponsible parenting? What would people say- what would my kids think?
Can I really get excited about feeding a 25 cent meal to someone else when I don't think the meal is good enough to be a staple for me? What am I really saying if I am thrilled to give someone ELSE'S kids such a nutritional meal, but somehow doubt that it is actually nutritional enough for my kids? Perhaps just as important as being willing to GIVE money or help PACKAGE food for others, is to consider a little solidarity with them in our eating as well. It's never easy to eat less than we could, or do something that feels beneath what we think we've earned- lower than our pay-grade. But hey, our God became part of creation- anything else is a small compromise in comparison.
It's just a thought. So hey, my food budget needs to come down considerably so I'm going to give the rice and bean thing and try-starting this week, I'm going to serve at least 3 rice and bean, mac & cheese, or rice casserole meals a week (maybe more) at least through the end of April. I will let you know how it turns out.