Monday, October 12, 2009

The Price of Produce (and meat, and eggs, and bread, and...)

(ed. note: this post comes from United Way's We Can LIVE UNITED blog. I am employed by United Way and wrote this piece for the organization's blog, but wanted to also share the content here because I believe the subject matter is so important to our community).

Three days away from payday, and I am cutting corners.

So goes the ebb and flow of my financial forecast. Once the paycheck rolls in, I dole out what's required to cover my debts and financial obligations, saving what's left to fill the gas tank, cover my grocery expenses and otherwise support my thriving social life.

Life tends to get a little leaner the further out I am from payday.

Those leaner, meaner days mean cracking open tuna cans stockpiled in the pantry for just the occasion or forgoing a night out on the town for a cozy evening in with a cheap (but equally tasty) Three Buck Chuck or something comparable.

I am intimately familiar with scraping by until the day of my next direct deposit. This is less of a reflection on my salary and more a reflection on my ability to manage finances, but I digress.

Times can be tough for just about anyone.

In regards to my more frugal circumstances, today's lunch presented something of a challenge.

How does one eat a meal for less than $3.50?

Such a daunting task is possible when one plans accordingly - preparing a meal at home and packing it up before work, or toting along a one-dollar frozen meal from the discount section of the grocery freezer case.

But when an individual (read: me) is lazy and less inclined to plan ahead on occasion, said individual is forced to hunt-and-gather for food at fast food joints close to the office.

I made it back to my cube with a McChicken sandwich, small fries and small diet soda - my wallet only $3.18 lighter after the trip.

My lunch time challenge and results made me think about the cost of an average meal around the world, and how my three-bucks-and-change respite is likely an extravagance when compared to what other people have to spend on lunch.

I just crossed this interesting piece on the cost of groceries around the world, and the related explanation of how the prices were assessed. While India turns out to be the world's source for most inexpensive groceries, the price of eggs and bread is still probably too steep for a country coping with up to 42 percent of its population below the international poverty line.

India isn't the only place coping with poverty.

Right here in Greater Cincinnati, we have people struggling to cover their utility bills and rent. Local families and individuals are stretching even further, hoping to make ends meet and put food on the table every evening.

Thankfully, United Way 211 is here to help those in need. Whether you need assistance in buying groceries, or are interested in finding a quality child care program for your little one, United Way 211 is a resource for anyone needing almost any kind of help.

United Way 211 is also a great source for people seeking opportunities to give help.

You can learn more about United Way 211 by clicking here.

If you'd like to support United Way's work to create change and improve lives across Greater Cincinnati, please click here.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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