An Interview with Linell

Hi Linell.

Hey, there!

So, let’s just jump right on in. This past week you did the SNAP challenge. If you could sum up your experience, what are two things that really stand out to you?

Honestly, I thought that this last week would be much more difficult for me, because as I mentioned before, I am used to spending 3x the SNAP challenge budget for an individual person.  I was really nervous about doing the challenge. I didn’t think I could do it and I was concerned I would be hungry.  But that was not the case… I ate well and I realized how unnecessarily frivolous I was/am in how I spend money on food.  And on a fun note: I lost three pounds… just from not eating out/getting coffee from Starbucks every morning. 

Oh really! Are you surprised? 

Surprised? About the weight loss? Yes. Also surprised that I still have food left over. I have 3 apples, half a jar of peanut butter, half a loaf of bread, half an onion and 2 eggs left. And it was surprising to me how “easy” it was to not eat out when I told myself it just wasn’t an option. It forced me to be more creative in the kitchen. Last Tuesday, I stared at the contents in my fridge for a while, mulling over the ingredients I had–it was reminiscent of trying to pick out a perfect first-date outfit. Haha. Then it all of a sudden came to me. I remembered hearing somewhere that pork was good with apples. I’d never had it before and I had plenty of apples, so I figured, why not! I ended up making a pork loin dish with caramelized onions, sautéed apples and carrots, with a side of kale. It was seriously one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. Ever.

Some of my favorite meals from last week's SNAP challenge. For more photos: instagram/peaceloveplates

Some of my favorite meals from last week’s SNAP challenge. For more photos: instagram/peaceloveplates

That sounds amazing. Speaking of which, did you plan on making the dishes that you made this past week? Is that how you dictated your initial shopping experience at Jon’s?

No plans. It’s weird to say that I planned on not being intentional about what I cooked. Part of the reason why is based on my experience/past conversations with patients/people on food stamps/EBT, etc who don’t “plan out” their meals. I mean, why would they make time for that? They are more concerned–and understandably so– with living day to day and the hustle and bustle of trying to make ends meet. That is an aspect of their lives, I will never relate to. I wanted to challenge myself in that way. It was hard for a chronic over-planner…

So, from what you’re saying… it doesn’t seem like you think you really did it any justice…or felt like you had a real enough experience of what it’s like to be on food stamps?

Well, no not really. There was one day where I really didn’t plan ahead at all. I only had one meal the entire day because I was busy and I didn’t have money to buy food.  In that instance, I could see how easily a person can go through a day with just one meal.  And hunger…hurts. Plus, I was reeaaally moody. It was a weird day. But still, I echo what Jeff said about his SNAP challenge not being truly representative of what people in marginalized/lower socioeconomic communities go through. Like Jeff, I have a stable income, most of my friends are in the same financial boat, I have reliable transportation…and all the amenities of a middle class citizen. Its just not the same. One day of eating one meal is not the same as several days of having just one meal.  With all that to say, I think the challenge does raise awareness on the plight of those who depend on supplemental assistance. Some of my friends asked really astute questions and were genuinely interested and supportive. It’s a great teaching/sharing opportunity.  

 After having done the SNAP challenge, did you learn anything new that you think will impact the mission/vision of Peace Love Plates?

I hope so. First of all, I want to practice what I preach. This Sunday (11/17), I only spent $37.88 on a week’s worth of groceries–maintaining the idea that eating well and choosing healthier options does not have to be expensive, even when shopping at fancy-schmancy Trader Joe’s (I even bought salmon this week! Yummy). I think I’m going to stick to that budget from here on out. Secondly, this experience has brought up some really great questions that will be helpful, I think,  for how we develop programs/materials for PLP.  For example, how can we simplify the process of making healthy choices/healthy meals to empower and set people up for success? How do we make that process intuitive so that it doesn’t take an hour an a half to shop for the week and it doesn’t take a lot of planning to make healthy meals happen?  There are other ideas flying around in our brains. PLP is a team of critical thinkers and problem solvers…so, I’m excited to see how the next few months will unfold for us. 

Any final thoughts?

Well, no not really. Oh! I do. I have much more respect for food and how important it really is. It affects us so much. It can be used to our benefit and so easily misused or neglected to our detriment. I feel that I have a healthier respect for it. No pun intended.

Thanks for taking the time and sitting down for this interview, Linell.

No problem, Linell. It was absolutely my pleasure. 

Comments

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1 Comment
  1. This is fascinating. And a great interview! Clearly both interviewer and interviewee are really on top of their stuff. Well done.