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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Our Safety Net

So today I took advantage of a program St. Mary's food bank offers (I sort of needed to). They offer the Food Value club:
Are you finding your dollar doesn’t go as far at the grocery check-out? Have you found yourself in a difficult situation because of tough economic conditions?
A program of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, the Food Value Club is open to the general public. No identification, income criteria or proof of citizenship is required, and cash, debit and Quest cards are accepted.
Open to the general public, the Food Value Club offers a variety of food packages, including meat and shelf stable items. Purchased by the Food Bank from manufacturers and distributors, store quality items are offered in addition to surplus donated food items included with every purchase free of charge. Surplus items may include bread, pastries, produce, and snack and beverage items, depending on availability.
Pantry Package, $13: includes 14 to 16 meal staples, such as canned vegetables and fruit, pasta and beans
Meat Packages, $16-$20: includes four to five excellent quality meat items, such as pork chops, beef patties and chicken breasts
Well, wanting to stock up, I went in intending to purchase a pantry box and a meat box.  My local branch (Agua Fria) was out of pantry boxes, which was the first indication that our food banks are in trouble.  I bought the Griller's box of meat, thinking it would be a good value.  I honestly don't think I saved any money.  For that $35 I got these:


I was not impressed with the quantity. I think I do better price wise shopping the manager's specials and sales at the grocery store. Most of those items are 1 lb or less, and I am trying to feed a family of 4 to 5. The contents:
  • Beef Sirloin Tip Fillet- .75 lb
  • Seasoned Center Cut Pork Chops- 1 lb
  • Ground Beef Patty- 1 lb
  • Pork St. Louis Style Ribs - 2 lb
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Loin- 1 lb
  • (box 2) Ground Beef Patty 1 lb
  • Pork St. Louis Style Ribs - 1.5 lb
  • Mild Italian Sausage- 1 lb
  • Seasoned Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast- 1 lb
Now, don't get me wrong.  That is a lot of meat.  I think the fact I really don't like pork is influencing this a bit.  I am also looking at the quality.  I don't need seasoned items, but just plain meat.  Look at the St Louis ribs:

The ingredients list salt, sugar, maltodextrin, yeast extract which is a form of MSG, dextrose, ficin, & bromelain.   I am not saying all those things are bad, but they are not things I normally put in items I cook.

The meat boxes come with bonus boxes.  I was really interested in what I got, especially concerning the conversation around obesity and poverty.

Here is what I got in the bonus boxes.  List following pictures.

16 cans of Diet Mountain Dew

  • Fancy water from France
  • Orange soda
  • Diet Red Creme Soda
  • 2 boxes of 60 Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
  • 2 bottles of yellow mustard
  • Fat free Ranch Dressing
  • Vinegar
  • 1 box of Zone bars
  • 2 canisters Quaker Oats
  • Salt & Cracked Pepper Chips
  • Turkey Stuffing Mix
  • Multigrain Saltine Crackers
  • Freedent gum

  • 2 Loaves Wonder Bread
  • 3 bags of plums
  • Marjoram
  • Whole Star Anise
  • Parsley
  • Dill Weed
  • Dark Chocolate w/hazelnuts
Not pictured- Fudge Striped Cookies (they were melting and went in the fridge)

and some unidentified uncooked muffins with no cooking instructions.

Now, some items are useful to me, like the Quaker bars, Vinegar, & crackers.  The rest is on the junky side.  The plums would be nice, but none of us like them.

The food banks are really in trouble, people.  They usually don't get the healthy basics donated, but instead buy it from commodities progams.  If you can spare it, donate the healthy basics-  items you would buy for your own family.  Even better, donate cash.  I will make due with what I got, because beggars can't be choosers.  I paid for this, but those getting emergency boxes get very similar stuff.  How do you survive?  I have done it before, but it took time and creativity I don't have anymore.  If you are trying to just survive, this is not the way to do it.

Anyone out there drink Diet Mountain Dew???