Wednesday, May 16, 2007

kudos to mom

When I was a kid, my family -- my sister, mom and myself -- relied on food stamps to buy our groceries (at least for a period of time). I hated it. It was embarrassing. Whenever we were at the cashier, I was convinced everyone in line behind us was watching us with disdain. I did everything I could to avoid standing near my mom at the register. Looking back, I wish I had given my mom more of a break. I'm sure she would have given anything to be able to afford to feed her children and to do so without feeling like she should be ashamed.

It amazes me that my mom -- and other moms in her situation -- was able to put dinner on the table. We never went without a meal (we got free lunch at school). Sure, there was a whole lot of pasta in our diet, but both my sister and I were healthy kids who did well in school, a hurdle for many kids who may not be getting the nutrients they need to meet their developmental goals.

I was reminded of what my mom managed to pull off when I read an article in today's Washington Post about a group of four lawmakers who are all making a commitment to limit their grocery spending to $21 per week, the average food stamp allowance. According to the article, the "Food Stamp Challenge" intends to "raise awareness of hunger and what they say are inadequate benefits for food stamp recipients."

$21, folks. I spent more than that on drinks last night at the bar across the street from the office.

If you're interested in seeing how the lawmakers do, congressmen Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), both of whom have made a commitment to the challenge, are both maintaining blogs about the experience. McGovern's is a better read, with more substantive content and posts from his wife, Lisa, as well.

Kudos to both.

And kudos to my mom.

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