Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eating on 3 dollars a day

Earlier we introduced you to a couple that tried eating on one dollar a day, now another couple are trying 3 dollars a day. They picked 3 dollars because it is the amount a couple would have with food stamps in their state.

Eve Ross and Justin Shearer have been donating all the money they save on food to a local food bank.

The couple have been blogging about their experience at 3 Justin

The weekly paper Columbia Free Times sent writer Eva Moore over to have a meal with them.

Curious about their own food spending and hoping to donate more money to food charities, Ross and her partner Justin Shearer embarked on a project they’re calling $3 Bill. Each of them is eating for $3 a day — roughly the amount offered to food stamp recipients in South Carolina. That’s $94 per person for the month of January. They’ve donated $564, the difference between January’s expenses and their usual monthly food expenditures, to local food bank Harvest Hope.

It’s been an intense month. The first surprise is just how much time they’ve spent cooking, not to mention cleaning, calculating and writing.

For this story, Shearer and Ross made dinner for a Free Times photographer and writer, with each of them giving up part of their daily budget to feed their guests.

Dinner was in two courses: first, a thick, tasty carrot soup made with pork broth, fresh ginger, and curry powder, served with homemade white bread.

Next, Shearer served what he called Lowcountry Pork Tacos: Boston butt cooked with beans, onions, peppers and chile spices, then fluffed with an immersion blender to the consistency of barbecue hash. He made flour tortillas from a prepared tortilla mix.

“I have a very important question to ask,” Shearer said as he served the tacos. “Do you want cheese or sour cream? You can’t have both. You get one-sixteenth of a cup.”

Dinner came in at 97 cents per couple. Everyone drank water.

But they’ve had some trials. The hardest day, Ross says, was when her church held a potluck as part of an event she wanted to attend. “I just didn’t have my s#!t together. I hadn’t planned in advance, because I was going to go straight there, and I didn’t bring anything.” People offered her food, but because she hadn’t contributed anything, she didn’t feel right eating the shared food.

“I just felt awful, because I really felt excluded from the community by choice. It sucked. But I could just imagine someone really not having the money to participate in something like that,” she says. “You just never know why people aren’t there.”

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