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What I Learned After Taking a Homeless Mother Grocery Shopping

2014-07-Single-MomHEADER

There’s an interesting story on Babble.com about a volunteer at a homeless shelter who took a mother of two (ages 4 & 6) grocery shopping.  She gave the woman $50 and told her she could purchase whatever she wanted.  What she was expecting to see was a cart full of processed products full of sugar, corn, soy and wheat  but was surprised to see that wasn’t the entirely the case.

Here’s an excerpt from the story as well as a list of the items she ended up buying. 

Going into this situation, I expected to see the cycle of poverty in action.

I expected to see $50 stretched, each dollar poured into inexpensive packages of processed products. Because that would be the proper thing to do, wouldn’t it? When a woman hands you $50 and tells you to go grocery shopping, you take that cash and make it stretch.

Except: That’s what this mom was always doing. So when I handed her that $50, I hadn’t handed her money for food. I handed her freedom. Fifty unbudgeted bills to spend on whatever she wanted.

And what she wanted was an $11 bag of shining apples.

A single plump bell pepper.

A big carton of blueberries.

And $6.38 for a bag of bright-red cherries.

As the checker scanned the produce, I held the 4-year-old, she wrestled with the 6-year-old, and we swapped stories like old friends about how grocery shopping with kids is always an adventure.

We both saw the ticker move over the $50 mark at the same time. She frantically started removing items from the conveyor belt, but I asked her to let me buy all the groceries, no matter the cost. She was standing in the store because of me; I didn’t want her having to spend her precious food stamps to avoid the “shame” of over-shopping.

What She Bought:

  • Goldfish Crackers – $1.00
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Peaches & Cream – $2.99
  • Marachaun Cup, Beef (x2) – $0.78
  • Marachaun Cup, Pork – $0.39
  • Cherries – $6.38
  • Applesauce – $2.29
  • Apples – $11.45
  • Nissin Chow Mein – $2.00
  • Tostitos Scoops – $2.50
  • Kraft Easy Mac – $3.89
  • Fruit Snacks – $1.49
  • Harmon B-T White – $1.69
  • Quaker Chewy Choc Chip Granola Bars – $5.00
  • Chef Boyardee Ravioli – $1.00
  • Western Family Spaghetti Rings – $0.89
  • Taco Bell Refried Beans – $0.69
  • Gold Bell Pepper – $1.79
  • Peaches – $1.25
  • Mission 10-Count Soft Tortillas – $2.99
  • Herdez Salsa – $2.49
  • GM Cocoa Puffs – $4.49
  • GM Bonus CTC – $2.50
  • Western Family Pear Slices – $0.99
  • Libby Vienna Sausages – $1.38
  • Blueberries – $3.98

—————————————

Total: $68.68 

2014-07-Single-Mom4SMBW-624x415

 

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