by Nicole Milbradt, Director of Marketing
Day 2 was going to be better.
Hubs and I had leftover soup to take for lunch and we made him two muffins today.
The kids were having Sloppy Joes for lunch. Sloppy Joes! All kids love Sloppy Joes… right? My kids have rarely ever had them so I thought this would be a treat!
As lunchtime approached, my phone started going off. First up… hubby. “I forgot my lunch. Can I just buy something?” Well of course, I thought. But wait… what happens when a SNAP family forgets? Do they have the extra money to run down the street to the sandwich shop? Or do they just do without?
As we know, 34 percent of our Pierce County families live in poverty (12 percent) or are ALICE®(22 percent). ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. It means 22 percent of our families are working and doing the best they can to make ends meet but they still struggle to provide for their families. Every penny they have is spoken for. That can make picking up a sandwich when you forget your lunch seem like a much bigger deal than it had been to me in that moment.
Next up, the teenager. First came the photo of the student eating hot lunch with the caption “I’m not eating that.” Sigh. Then came the photo of a pretty good looking salad and the caption “I’m eating this!” Add Smiley emoji! But wait… how did she get that? She used the money I put in her account to eat at the salad bar instead. It cost more than her lunch did yesterday but it was more her speed. So how does that work? Do students in the free-and-reduced lunch program have access to the salad bar? I sure hope so.
At the end of the day, the youngest came off the bus and immediately greeted me with “I’m hungry.” She did have the hot lunch but it turned out that the Sloppy Joe was not all I had made it out to be. She didn’t really like it and only ate about half. The side dish was also not made the way she preferred so she didn’t eat it. She actually liked the options at the fruit and veggie bar today so she had some apples and some carrots but that was it. Are my kids spoiled? Why do they act like eating the school lunch is the end of the world?
Because her class has the latest lunch, they have a snack time to hold them over. We didn’t have snacks in our budget so to make the challenge real, she went to school without one. On Day 1, her teacher had some extras. Today she was not so lucky. And sadly, she wasn’t alone. Parents often send in extras and the teacher buys some too but how long does my 12-pack of cheese crackers last when there are multiple kids without a snack? Are there kids who are never able to bring one from home?
I was relieved to get to dinner tonight. That was until I started making it. My plan was to use four chicken breasts, as I always did. However, when I opened the bag of chicken, I was a little surprised.
The photo is the chicken breast I bought for the challenge. The size difference compared to what I usually bought was significant. There was no way I could get away with using four breasts for this meal. I had to use all six, taking away the extras I was going to save for a meal the following week. The meal was prepared with a slightly different dressing as the store brand didn’t make the flavor I needed. I picked something I thought would work but we could all taste the difference. Even though we ate it all, I didn’t feel full. And I was missing my daily salad.
Is this how SNAP families feel everyday?