I love challenges and am so glad the United Way of NWA presented this one to me. My initial goals in accepting the challenge were to eat healthy and to hopefully gain insight on what it is like living on $5/day. While I was certainly able to eat healthy, the insights I gained were surprising:
- Eating healthy took more time than expected to plan and prepare nutritious meals on a tight budget. As I reflected on this, I realized those who work long hours or multiple jobs may not have the time or energy to thoughtfully create a healthy meal plan, much less prepare. Years ago I worked for Frito-Lay and was excited to see that in 2014 they partnered with the North Texas Food Bank in creating the Simply Cooking cookbook. The cookbook provided recipes using many of the items you might find at a food bank. To download a copy, click here.
- I thought about food A LOT! It wasn’t that I was hungry, but the constraint of $5/day was always on my mind. I wondered if this distracting thought was shared by those who are living with the constraint on a daily basis
- I also realized how much of my socializing with friends centered on eating out. Because I had focused my daily food budget on purchasing groceries, I did not plan for the impromptu invitation to dine with friends. I accepted the invitation, but stayed true to the cost challenge and only ordered water to drink. It was a great opportunity to engage in a conversation about the issue of poverty and how the United Way of NWA is addressing the issue through its CLIP (Children Living in Poverty) initiative. While it was a great evening, I have to admit it was challenging to watch them eat when their food arrived. I have a new appreciation for potluck events – fun and fellowship on a budget
- I am more passionate and committed to finding solutions for those facing poverty. With 25% of children living in poverty, I look forward to joining the United Way and others in the community in collectively working toward alleviating poverty in Northwest Arkansas.
I have gleaned much from this experience and don’t want to lose the insight I’ve gained. I plan to individually challenge myself to doing this again in six months and hope to enlist some of my friends in joining me. Are you in?