Forty Days of SNAP

Our family's Lenten food stamp challenge

Not a big deal, but

Our second grader, Camilla, caps off her Ancestor Project with a dinner at school tonight. Each student is to bring a family artifact to display at the dinner (she is bringing a wooden shingle from the house where her namesake ancestor was born in 1891), as well as two dishes to share: a main dish and a vegetable (or dessert, if your last name starts with N-Z). Each dish should serve 8, so says the assignment sheet.

Well, this is awkward.

It’s not a huge expense–we are putting maybe 5 extra dollars into this meal from our SNAP grocery budget–but it was just sort of assumed that each family could afford to buy and prepare food for this special event. What if we really couldn’t spare it?

Camilla’s school is an “open enrollment” public school, which means that students from outside the neighborhood boundary can apply to be in the admission lottery. Generally, parents who choose this school know that they will be in for a few extra expenses, as the school emphasizes experiential learning (read: projects and field trips). And there are fundraisers–man, are there fundraisers–so that every child can attend the trips. But for something seemingly small like sharing food? It may not merit an all-out fundraiser, but there could be a little more sensitivity.

In her oral report, Camilla chose to focus on Denmark as her country of origin (though more of her roots are in England and Germany). Seven generations before Camilla, in 1860 or so we surmise, the Peterson family sailed from Copenhagen to Britain and thence to Boston where they quickly made their way west to Nauvoo, IL and traveled the Mormon trail–possibly with a handcart company–to Utah.

I thought maybe ableskivers, a spherical Danish popover-like bread–would be good for the dinner. Perhaps a savory version, with a bit of cheese inside. But we’ve never made them before, so I worried that experimenting and probably burning a few batches would cost too much in wasted ingredients. I wouldn’t have worried about that before.

So we’re making ham biscuits and greens, to celebrate her North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas roots. I suppose you could say buttermilk biscuits are akin to the English scone? Or something like that. We know how to make it, it’s cheap, and if the kids don’t eat the greens there are some eggs and a pie crust waiting for the leftovers back at home.


© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons


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2 thoughts on “Not a big deal, but

  1. Laura King on said:

    Gotta say, this was always my pet peeve when my children were in public school and we actually got food stamps in little booklets. It wasn’t the food requests that I got, it was the required box of tissues I was to send in to the classroom. The reason I qualified for food stamps was that the monthly budget for non-food items was $25. Twenty-five dollars a month to buy toothpaste, toilet paper and tide. (I called them the 3 T’s and never actually could afford real Tide. We carried cloth handkerchiefs and washed them. We used old rags instead of paper towels, and washed them. That $25 also bought light bulbs, garbage bags, waxed paper, the occasional battery for the smoke detector, anything that was not covered by food stamps.Oh, and did I mention feminine products? We did not purchase tissues, except for school. You can wiggle your menu and make a cheaper meal. Your point is well made. We need to be aware that what may be nothing to us, is not affordable by others. We need to realize that not every family can support another fund raiser or bring cupcakes or a box of tissues.

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