At the press conference yesterday to kick-off the SNAP the Silence Challenge, Montgomery County Media caught this picture of me shopping for food. I certainly was feeling a bit overwhelmed at buying food as I had not really planned out my meals for the week. Had I done so, I believe I would have been much more successful at ensuring I had balanced meals all 5 days of the SNAP challenge.
Luckily for me, I have an advantage in this challenge-I'm Puerto Rican. Traditionally, we eat a lot of rice and beans as the base of our meals. Hence, this challenge has brought me back to my roots and enjoying some of my favorite foods. For example, last night I took most of my roaster chicken and made a big pot of Puerto Rican chicken soup with rice, frozen butternut squash and spinach. I think I made enough to last me the week and I still have not even touched my beans. So I think I should fare well the rest of the week assuming I don't grow too tired of leftovers.
That said, there is one thing I overlooked while shopping-my sweettooth. I did buy some clementines and raisins for my oatmeal in the morning, but of course today I got a serious craving for a brownie. In that moment, nothing else could satisfy me. I got frustrated at myself for not planning better because had I done so, I may have been able to fit in some luxuries in my $25 food budget for the week.
But maybe this is the point of this challenge. There are no luxuries. You have enough to sustain yourself without the extras that many of us take for granted. And we should all be grateful for what we can have.
Ana L. van Balen is the Mid-County Regional Services Director for Montgomery County, Md. Follow her on twitter at @anavanbalen or at Mid-County Director's Blog.