I’ve posted before about hunger awareness/fighting to end hunger, and how that’s a very important cause for me (you might recall the low-budget food challenge I failed miserably at the end of last year). I’m always looking for opportunities to help those facing hunger – whether it’s giving out bags of food and water to the homeless during my morning commute, volunteering to cook dinner at a local shelter, or raising funds for Feeding America or Share Our Strength (No Kid Hungry).
I was struggling with what to give up for Lent this year. I didn’t decide until late the night before Ash Wednesday. I decided to give up half of my grocery budget with the intention to donate the other half, or use it in some way to help those struggling with hunger. I often take for granted that I don’t really have to worry about how much I spend on groceries. Sure, I have a budget, but it’s a sizable one for one person. Unlike the low-budget food challenge I tried late last year, I’ve actually been doing well on half of my grocery budget!
My church has a program where families in the local community who need assistance with Easter meals can sign up to receive a basket of food with enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Easter. Parishioners can sign up to fill a “basket” (large storage tote) with food for the family and a grocery gift card to buy any fresh food they need (meat, milk, eggs, butter, fruits and vegetables, etc.) Those who sign up to fill a basket can choose the size of the family. I didn’t have a preference, and I was assigned a family of 4. They provide the ages and genders of the children, too, because they encourage providing a small gift for the children. I opted for gift cards so they could choose their own gifts, but I added Uno and Phase 10 card games to the box for the whole family. I also provided a recipe that they could use for ham, as well as ham and bean soup for leftovers, but also provided some other ideas for the things I bought for those recipes in case they choose not to have ham.
Unfortunately, the items in the basket have to be non-perishable, which makes it a bit tricky. I’m glad we can gift a gift card for the family to buy the other items they need. My church provides a suggested list of items to include in the basket, and I also tried to look online for some suggestions, but didn’t find much. This is what I ended up putting in my basket:
- Canned green beans (2)
- Canned corn (2)
- Tomato soup (2)
- Chicken noodle soup (2)
- Cream of mushroom soup (potentially for green bean casserole)
- French fried onions (potentially for green bean casserole)
- Scalloped potatoes (boxed)
- Shake & pour pancake mix
- Pancake syrup
- Instant oatmeal variety pack
- Spaghetti sauce
- Knorr pasta sides (two varieties)
- Keebler crackers variety pack
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Vidalia onion salad dressing
- Canned tuna
- Canned diced tomatoes (potentially for ham & bean soup)
- Great northern beans (potentially for ham & bean soup)
- Ground cloves (potentially for ham)
- Crushed pineapple (potentially for ham)
- Honey (potentially for ham)
- Mustard (potentially for ham)
- Cake mix
- Oil (for cake mix)
- Candy – Reese’s, Hershey’s Minis, and Hershey’s Kisses
- Maxwell House coffee singles (these are in tea bag format)
- Iced tea mix
- Card games
- Two cookbooks
- $25 gift cards for children to Amazon (one for each child)
- $25 Apple gift card for young adult
- $15 Panera gift card for grandmother
- Grocery gift card
We’re supposed to provide enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Easter. I think I provided plenty for breakfast and lunch on Easter and for a few more days. I provided the basics for Easter dinner, with the intention that they would use the grocery gift card to buy the rest of what they wanted for Easter dinner. The grocery gift card should be enough for the following, and still have funds left over for more items: ham or turkey, eggs, milk, butter, salad, bread/rolls, and some fruits and vegetables.
I’m so glad to have this opportunity to provide another family with food for Easter.