Food Security Part II; Making the Most out of A Grocery Dollar



New unemployment numbers can be discouraging and some American communities are seeing unemployment rates as high as 36%. These numbers, combined with desperate calls for food donations to food pantries with empty shelves emphasizes the need to empower those living in poverty to be empowered.

Those working with the impoverished can collaborate with those in need to find empowering and non-traditional solutions to hunger. It is not possible, in every case to help someone find ways to feed oneself besides food stamps but it is possible to help a few people be able to gather

Perhaps the easiest way to empower someone who struggles from hunger is to break conforming food patterns that cause illness, diabetes and pour grocery dollars into empty calories.

Eating habits are learned from one’s own environment and financial constraints and therefore forced upon people without money.

Tips for making the most out of your grocery dollar:

1- Skip the extra calories by skipping drinks:

Flavored drinks, even most fruit juices are empty calories and are loaded with sugars that will add to obesity. Juice is often sweetened with apple juice from concentrate and provides little to no nutritional value. It is always best to eat a piece of fruit. Drink water and pregnant and nursing mothers and children should drink the recommended daily allowance of milk. Begin carrying a re-usable water bottle with you that you can fill from the tap to resist the temptation to buy sugary drinks.

2- Say no to sugar and corn syrup when you buy peanut butter and other foods like ketchup, cereals and canned foods. Eating sugary, sweet foods often triggers hunger and poor eating. Skip it to feel healthier, prevent obesity and diabetes. Be aware of hidden sugars in processed food.

3- Buy a little bit healthier and heartier whole grain noodles, cereals, and breads when they are on sale. You will eat less and feel fuller and don’t forget to add frozen veggies and fruits.

4- Consider subscribing to a CSA farm share;

Community Supported Agriculture brings farmers and buyers in direct contact for the best savings on whole, fresh produce. CSA shares sometimes include local cheeses, organic eggs and meat. Google CSA and the name of your city to find share deliveries near you. Many anti-poverty agencies run CSAs. If you live in an urban area there is a good chance there is one near you. In Salt Lake County Crossroads Urban Center sells affordable CSA shares through it’s Community Food Co-op.

5- Skip the pre-packaged snack foods. If it comes in a box, a bag or a can chances are, there is little nutrition. Those snacks may add to the chances of getting diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Try replacing snacks in a box with homemade popcorn, fruit, or crisp vegetables. Remember, vegetables and fruit are often too expensive for those living with hunger to buy.

6- Meat can be expensive. For less a more affordable source of protein try eggs. They can be mixed with rice, fried, baked on bread, cooked with noodles and more. If you are really adventurous you might try raising chickens in a backyard coop.

7- Don’t forget to go to the food pantry. There are multiple food pantries in urban Utah communities. You can find one near you by visiting the Utah Food Bank website. The pantries are run by volunteers and anti-poverty advocates. The Salt Lake Community Action Program runs six pantries in Salt Lake and Tooele Counties. There are limits to the number of visits one can make.

*If you are having trouble feeding your family and you have not applied for SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps please do. There is no shame in admitting you need help in this tough economy.  Food stamps cannot buy all of your groceries but are often a great help when times are tough.

You can apply for SNAP benefits online by clicking on this link.


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