I have taken on a new project. While I have been going to the food pantries during the time I have been off work and trying to make ends meet on very little, I have thought about and/or noticed some things. First I have noticed the types of people that come to the food pantries. I have sat and talked with some of them while I waited to pick up food. I've met some people that I have talked to several times at the various pantries. I have also heard what they have to say about the food stamp system and how the benefits have recently been cut. I have seen first hand the items that you receive in these places. While it is definitely helpful to get the additional food, it also is very lacking in the types of food that they give out if you are trying to piece together meals, solely from what you receive at the pantries. There have been three pantries that we have gone to, and they give out different types of food at each of the three pantries. There is a little overlap, but mostly, the concentration of food is different at each of the pantries. I have also watched people use food stamps in the stores over the years. I frequently see these people purchasing mostly prepackaged or prepared foods that are more expensive and less healthy for them. These observations lead me to believe that some of these people could benefit from classes that show them how to use their resources to make the healthiest and least expensive meals possible with the items they receive.
Over the last couple of years, even prior to my accident, I have felt a calling to help feed the hungry people in our area. I have thought about different avenues that could be used to do this and I have come to the conclusion, that offering classes that show people inexpensive ways to cook and/or use the items that are frequently given out at the food pantries is a good idea. I thought about just doing classes about food, but over the last several months, I have started making most of my own cleaners, and many of the ingredients in those cleaners can be purchased using food stamps, which allows people to not only obtain food, but cleaning supplies as well from their food stamps. To me this opens up an area that would help to save money for people that have very limited resources. I am currently developing a plan to help teach people about bargain/coupon shopping, meal planning, inexpensive meals (including freezer cooking and crockpot cooking) and homemade cleaners. I'm trying to develop a program, where we might provide the ingredients and people would be able to come and take from the class, a meal for their family, or cleaners to use in their home along with ideas about bargain shopping and coupon use. If this idea takes off, over the next several months, I will be posting the recipes along with the cost breakdown of my recipes and hopefully, pictures of these recipes on my blog. I will also update and post my meal plans and hopefully, I can give costs for each of the meals that I have on the menu. While I usually purchase most of my meat through a meat packing company, I will also try and have costs if the meat were purchased in the store. Of course, sale shopping will help reduce those costs.
I'm hoping that by doing this, I can help others rather they are in my classes, or just following along online. I think this is what God has called me to do, and it may be part of the reason that I am currently experiencing this situation. Hopefully, I can use this to help other people that may be in this same type of situation. Prior to this accident, I had no idea how or where to find help in our community. Now I have a much better grasp of the assistance that is out there. Hopefully, I can use some of this newfound knowledge to help others.