Ryan Clark is Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's new Major Gifts Officer. He shares "healthy on a budget" lessons he learned while witnessing our Nutrition Education programs in action. Did you know that the Food Pyramid is a thing of the past? I didn’t. Last week, I attended an Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Cooking Matters at the Store (CMATS) event where I was first introduced to My Plate, the new USDA diagram to guide our eating habits.
Cooking Matters at the Store is a program that teaches shoppers how to shop for healthy foods on a budget – right there at the grocery store. As the newest member of the IFFS team, I’m taking this opportunity to observe how we can Feed, Teach and Grow in our community to address the root causes of hunger: lack of income and lack of access to healthy foods.
Led by volunteers, I toured our local Food Lion aisle by aisle, alongside Cooking Matters participants. We learned how to scan product labels for healthy ingredients, how to compare unit costs, and how to meet our nutrition needs on a budget. Buying frozen or canned fruits and vegetables (without added salt and sugar!) and inexpensive proteins like beans and eggs are a great way to stretch your dollar while eating healthfully.
Armed with a $10 store credit and lots of new knowledge, each participant embarked to fill his/her basket with at least one item from each of the My Plate food groups: Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Protein, and Dairy.
What a challenge! I’ve been gradually eating more healthily since those early days of college and I’m blessed to be food-secure. I haven’t had to choose between buying food and paying for other essentials. I’ve never had to fill up my basket with only $10 while trying to meet each of my nutritional needs. So I decided to give it a try.
With only $10, I had to make some tough choices. And even though I managed to fill my basket with healthy items in each food group for under $10, I wasn't sure how to combine them into a tasty meal! Fortunately our Nutrition Educators had some suggestions, with these helpful meal resources.
This is what I put in my (hypothetical) grocery cart:
Oat Cereal $2.99 Frozen Peaches $2.69 Canned Pineapple $0.79 1 lb Onion $0.89 1 lb Sweet Potato $0.79 1 can Black Beans $0.68 1 cup low fat Greek Yogurt $0.89
By Ryan Clark, IFFS Major Gifts Officer. Contact: Ryan@FoodShuttle.org