By Jean Blish Siers *
This Friday, October 16, is World Food Day and October 24 is Food Day. It’s a great time to reflect on the state of food and hunger in America. Here at Society of St. Andrew, we suggest that on one of those two days you serve a “Simple Supper,” such as rice and beans. It’s how most of the world eats. Then take the difference between the cost of that simple supper and the cost of a typical meal, and donate it to Society of St. Andrew. It’s a small step that connects us all with the broader world.
Here are a few food facts to, um, chew on. The USDA tracks food costs for a variety of demographics. In August 2015, the USDA estimates that a family of four will spend between $130 per month (Thrifty Plan) to $1,292 per month (Liberal Plan). I think of myself as pretty thrifty, and I don’t know if I could feed a family of four on $130 a month. The Moderate Plan, hovering around $600 per month, is about the maximum that a family of four could expect with SNAP benefits.
Back in 2012, a web site called The Daily Meal found the average basic, home-cooked American meal (roast chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and the other things necessary to prepare it) cost about $5 per person. While this is substantially less expensive than eating out, and arguably a healthier option, it’s not cheap.
So I turned to the Money Crashers web site. Their “5 Easy Rice and Beans Recipes” analyzed the costs of dried versus canned beans and different types of rice. Their recipes ranged in per-serving cost from $0.53 per serving for Pinto Bean and Rice Tacos to $0.81 for Italian White Bean and Rice Soup.
The beans-and-rice meals offer a savings of at least $4 per person! Think how many people we could feed with all those $4 savings! At Society of St. Andrew, we can deliver a serving of fresh produce for about two cents. Four dollars would provide 200 servings of fresh produce to go with their own simple suppers!
Whether you honor Food Day with your family, your congregation, or your civic group, please remember that some folks in our communities cannot afford even simple, healthy meals.
* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.