Last night I had my first food nightmare — I was trying to stir a pot with not enough beans and vegetables in it, and I remember adding some sliced green peppers and knowing it wouldn’t really help. There wasn’t enough, and no matter how much I kept stirring, it wasn’t enough. I awoke from this dream with a clenched feeling in my chest, an elevated heart rate and a feeling of doom. Ick. Not pleasant. I have anxiety dreams sometimes, but I can’t remember one about food, ever. Intriguing, because we’re not “really” on food stamps, we’re just playing a game. But the anxiety about not feeding the family was so intense. And when I look way back to when I was a single mom and had no food budget at all after the bills were paid, when they were paid, did not receive any public assistance but did go to the food bank — I did feel like that. But it was all the time, not just in a dream.
I posted a remark about my dream on Facebook this morning, and someone commented, “Only 5 days left.” This I know — there are actually six whole days counting today to get through before I can step off the challenge and order a coffee milkshake and a medium-rare steak. But I am resisting thinking that way. A person living on food stamps or other assistance can’t anticipate the end of the month as an end to his or her struggles. It gets a little better when the check arrives or the FS card is recharged electronically. But the ride doesn’t stop. So I am further challenging myself to continue to live in the moment about the food stamp challenge — to live each day according to the day’s food needs.
The struggle is moot if I hurry it along to its happy ending, where I pat myself on the back for what I’ve learned, and order my milkshake. So that’s where I am right now. I’m soaking in it.
The Mighty Pen
In other news, I just fired off a letter to the editor after some local person complained about the free lunch program for local kids. “Where’s my free lunch,” she asked. Here is my response, which I hope to see published in next week’s newspaper.
Don’t blame the poor
XXXX XXXX wants to know “why do we even have a free lunch program when we are always making cuts in other school programs?” (“I Want My Free Lunch,” June 24). For the record, the free school lunch program is funded by our federal (and sometimes also the state) government, specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. No books, pencils, pupils or teachers are harmed in the serving of a free lunch to a hungry student. The AUSD school budget is not harmed, either.
In case your kids or neighbors are hungry this summer, the USDA is glad to feed them for free at Paden and Encinal schools, daily through July 16, except weekends and July 5. If Ms XXXXX or others have complaints about feeding Alameda children, they can complain to the USDA, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964.
However, it seems unfair to take a slap at local hungry children when the core problem about school budgets lies in Sacramento, and here at home, where enough Alamedans voted against Measure E to torpedo our district. Don’t blame the poor for our bad political choices.
Breakfast: Ana: pastries (from bread site, free), coffee. Simone: breakfast bar, coffee. Patrick: oatmeal, hardboiled eggs, green tea. Julia: coffee, apricot.*
Snack: Julia: coffee, banana, toast with peanut butter.
Lunch: Ana: cheese/veggie sandwich on hamburger bun, carrot/celery sticks, chocolate chip cookies, leftover cheese crackers (of mysterious origin); Patrick: work meeting with lunch, $0; Julia: bread, butter, jam, nectarine, peach*; Simone: ?
Dinner: Simone: out; Julia, Ana, Patrick: chicken enchilada soup (leftover BBQ chicken, canned enchilada sauce, chopped tomatoes, onions); tortillas.
* Argh, all the fruit is going soft really fast. May have to make a cobbler this weekend and do without fresh fruit for the rest of the month.