Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Project

I'm working on a new project that has actually been on my heart and mind for over a year now.  Back in October of 2009, my hubby and I watched the movie Food Inc. with two other couples.  One part of the movie profiled a low-income family that was struggling with food and health issues.  The father was on several very expensive medications related to diabetes and hypertension.  This family shared the fact that due to their low income, they were often forced to eat off the dollar menu at fast food restaurants.  To prove the point, they went to a grocery store and showed how expensive fresh produce was.  At this point, I almost jumped to my feet to shout "foul."  What about frozen foods?  Or even canned?  What about beans and rice?  Certainly, there had to be a middle way!  I also calculated that if the family of four each purchased three items off the dollar menu (drink, burger, fries), that would result in a family meal costing $12.  I was sure a family of four could eat cheaply (and healthfully) for much less than that.  One of the couples watching the movie with us was on a very tight budget, so I asked if my thinking was unreasonable.  I was assured that it was entirely possible to eat well on little money. 

I also pondered the thought that the father in the movie, who was overweight and possibly in the obese range, could reduce his dependence on pharmaceuticals by losing weight.  Not only would he experience improved health and reduce the risk of suffering from other degenerative diseases, but it would help the family pocketbook.  A win-win situation in my mind.

Thus I began my quest to find a way to help low-income families learn to eat better and to experience optimum health.  The result is a cookbook that will be made available to low-income families through our local food bank.  I approached the director of the food bank with the idea and she told me to "run with it."  A group of lovely, civic-minded, and hardworking ladies are now helping me with this project.  We're in the process of gathering facts and ideas to help make it a success.  We're looking into recipes, pantry lists, money, cooking, and eating tips, and community resources to include in the cookbook.  We have lots of ideas we're exploring right now, but would welcome any input into this project.  


La Vie Quotidienne said...

What a wonderful idea and it would certainly be helpful to so many, many people. I don't think that eating out, even with cheap prices, is ever cheaper or more nutricious than home cooking. I wish you lots of success. Have a super weekend!

Lisa Sharp said...

Very cool. This is something that is much needed.

Adrienne said...

I really like this idea, Cherie. Maybe our local food bank would be interested in your cookbook, too.

I have a post in the works about easy and inexpensive to make lunch foods that are also vegetarian. I'll probably put it up next week.

I love how much you care about others. It's refreshing in such a self-centered world.

Andrea said...

I'm starting to look for funding opportunities for your fabulous project!

Karen said...

This is just another reason why I like you so much!! What a great idea!!!!!!! I would love to help if you ever need me. Everyone MUST be able to afford food for their families~~what a better way than to learn to grow and cook your own food?! PLEASE do me a favor and add easy, yummy vegetarian recipes for people on the go. Good luck and keep me up-to-date~ *One Love*

Karen said...

Make It Happen Grant!!

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

What an amazing project!

I had the same thought while watching the movie. Ultimately I think it was more out of convenience.

Cherie said...

La Vie, thanks for the good wishes. Hope you had a great weekend as well.

Lisa, thanks for the encouragement. I understand that many low-income people in my community consider putting poptarts in a toaster to be "cooking."

Adrienne, looking forward to reading your post. Perhaps I can glean some information from it for our cookbook? And thank you for your kind words.

Andrea, thanks for all your help. We are in the early planning stages right now and have targeted a potential local funding source but would welcome any additional info. Email me when you get a chance.

Karen, thanks so much for the info. We are looking into the Make It Happen grants as we feel that is our best opportunity, although it is no guarantee. Will definitely include vegetarian options since they tend to be healthier and cheaper. When (if!) you get a chance, email me about what foods your family likes and I'll see if I can come up with some ideas.

Shona, what you said about convenience is exactly what our friends said. Personally, I find the whole process of finding a fast food restaurant the family will agree on, going through the long line, dealing with disgruntled employees, and then sometimes waiting on the "fast" food to be more of a pain and more time consuming than taking 20 minutes to cook canned beans and rice with steamed veggies on the side

Deanna said...

Great idea! I have had conversations with people who claim they cannot afford to eat healthy foods and I do know it's difficult at times. However, I believe that most could do better with some good nutritional advice and cooking suggestions. I look forward to hearing more about your project.

Cherie said...

Deanna, I do believe it is education. So few people nowadays have even basic cooking skills. Our culture has come to believe that we're too busy to cook and that it's faster and cheaper to just run through the drive-thru window. Little do they realize that 1) it's not really faster and 2) it's not cheaper because they end up paying for it through healthcare costs. Plus, we already pay for the "cheap" food with tax dollars that subsidize the large agricultural corporations that pretend to be farmers.