Confessions of a Survey Junkie®

 

How I Became A Survey Junkie®

You may wonder, ‘how does one become a survey junkie’? How I became a ‘survey junkie’ is something I ask myself from time to time. Let me go back to explain how it happened.

survey-junkie
The Former Middle Class Ebook Series Facebook page header displaying the trilogy covers
The Poor Middle Class Crisis

Back in 2009, when we became One Day from Homeless, our finances and our lives changed completely. We went from being part of the gainfully employed middle class to part of The Poor Middle Class Crisis.

In our new Former Middle-Class Life, our weekly salaries and monthly investment incomes no longer existed. Instead, they were replaced by very limited monthly retirement social security incomes that had to last all month. To say the least, it was not easy. To put it bluntly, we became like feral children without the benefit of parents or teachers. We had to learn how to survive on our own and all over again. We had become part of The Former Middle Class.

Supplemental Survival Tools

What changed the most was our daily routine. Rather than showering and dressing in 9-to-5 Manhattan garb, we set out in old jeans or sweats to collect bottles on recycling days and cashed them in on other days. We also dress casually for the other parts of our routine. We frequent two food pantries once a week and one food pantry once a month. Between these tightly budgeted visits to supermarkets on senior discount days and doctors visits on other days, our weekday schedule is complete.

In between these activities we have our own indoor farm. We grow microgreens and sprouts to supplement our food pantry diet which tends not to have much fresh produce. In the warmer weather, these foods are not only delicious but super packed with nutrients. But here as well, indoor farming is time-consuming and can be hard work.

survey-junkie
The Facebook header of ‘Soil Is Not a Dirty Word’, Growing our own food indoors is part of our new life of supplemental survival tools

Once a day we do eat a substantial, home-cooked meal. The other two meals are more like snacks that include pantry scavenged food. I tried growing our own food, microgreens as well as sprouts, in our one bedroom apartment. I even got a food compost system to recycle food scraps into worm digested, super fertilizer. But that became arduous. We needed to discontinue these survival supplements and find easier solutions.

Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit

As I detail in the second book of The Former Middle Class Ebook Series, I taught myself how to benefit from using credit cards. I developed a system that allowed me to decrease my monthly expenses with sign up promotions and cash rewards. Although soil is not a dirty word, using credit cards for survival and profit is a lot cleaner undertaking.

survey-junkie
How to Set Up a Budget

To this day, using credit cards for survival and profit is our most sophisticated undertaking. But it in itself has become a daily, part-time job. To keep on target financially requires hours each day checking online credit card accounts, going over spreadsheets, recording expenses, and tallying expenses by credit card and category of expense. At times, it is mindboggling. There are days when I even feel like it is ‘Greek to me’. In addition, I have accumulated a substantial number of credit cards that have to be rotated every few months to keep them active and viable.

With all the challenges involved in this system, we have managed to rise to FICO credit scores of over 800! When it was below that, I was able to find out why and quickly remedied the situation. I am very proud of this accomplishment and still apply for additional cards but much less often. This finally brings me to where becoming ‘a survey junkie’ came into the picture.

Other Supplemental Survival Tools

Over time and between discovering this boon to our survival, I needed to explore what I call, other supplemental survival tools. Many of them are explored in Chapters 4 and 5 of the first book of The Former Middle Class Ebook series, The Poor Middle-Class Crisis.

It is not a good idea to apply for new credit cards too often. It can raise a red flag with the credit card provider companies, resulting in denials and lower FICO® scores. In order to avoid that, it is necessary to introduce supplemental survival tools. One of my financial gurus, James Wang of Wallet Hacks, often has terrific suggestions on his blog. Here’s one, Surveys for Money.

survey-junkie
From a blog post by James Wang, ’10 Legitimate Paid Survey Sites to Start Making Extra Money Each Month’
Surveys for Money

Way back when we became part of the poor middle-class, we really struggled financially. We had to adjust to a much lower standard of living. Not only that, we had to find perks to survive and still live a somewhat healthy life. Taking surveys was an option that came up in our research. But at that time, I found the idea boring and unappealing.

Well, things change over time and one’s perspective on what is acceptable and or distasteful have to adjust. Therefore surveys started to look interesting. They really didn’t take much time and they could actually be fun. In fact, I began to feel like I was part of the population that helps determine marketing procedures for products. I even felt special. The main thing is to take as little time doing it and make it a game rather than a nuisance.

James Wang has suggestions for technique as well as actual surveys. He puts Survey Junkey® first on his list. It is my preference and the only one I use. That is because there are too many available to make it time effective for me to participate in. It is also because I know it has the James Wang seal of approval. I have found that I can comfortably have a survey bonus of about $10. a month. It is possible to get much more. But my Survey Junkie® addiction is satisfied with by that. Stick around for more supplemental survival tools and other helpful topics.

survey-junkie
From the blog post by James Wang, A list of surveys that pay for you to take them
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Wallet Hacks® by James Wang
Survey Junkie®
The Poor Middle Class
One Day from Homeless
Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit
Why Did My FICO® Score Decrease by 12 Points in One Month
The Former Middle Class Trilogy
Soil Is Not A Dirty Word
Seed Mama Indoor Farming

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The Former Middle Class Trilogy

mastering green
The Former Middle Class eBook Series Available at Amazon.com

INTRODUCTION
There are three ebooks in The Former Middle Class Trilogy.The first ebook is called, The Poor Middle Class Crisis and the second ebook is, Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit. The ebooks are available on Amazon.com. Mastering the Art of Green is my third ebook in the Former Middle Class trilogy.
 

The Former Middle Class Trilogy
The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook © 2017 Alison D. Gilbert

THE POOR MIDDLE CLASS CRISIS
The Former Middle Class.The Poor Middle Class Crisis chronicles our history as people who were devastated by the 2008 stock market crash. My husband lost his job the same week as the crash. He was 62 at the time. I became very ill from all the stress.

We had become part of The Former Middle Class and did not know how we were going to survive. Our low point was when we faced the possibility of having no place to live and were, One Day From Homeless.

Our journey became one of survival. That became our priority. We had to learn to live all over again under very different financial circumstances. We explored many different avenues and began to build our financial survival tool kit.

The Former Middle Class
The Financial Survival Toolkit for Living a Consciously Frugal Life from the Viper Tool Storage Company
 
OUR FINANCIAL SURVIVAL TOOL KIT
Building our kit involved many lifestyle changes. We went from a two bedroom apartment to subsidized senior housing. Access to food was a big challenge. Instead of the opportunity to purchase expensive, organic foods and eat out on occasion, we had to depend on the generosity of others and the government. Food pantries and food stamps are crucial financial survival tools. But they may be hard to swallow.

We went from middle class comfort to former middle class frugal living. It was a huge adjustment. We explored many tools that didn’t work for us. Things like couponing and taking surveys. Many more thrifty tools are mentioned in the first ebook. Eventually we found one tool that not only helped us survive but also became profitable. That tool is credit cards.
 

former middle class trilogy
Using Credit Cards for Survival & Profit eBook © 2017 Alison D. Gilbert
USING CREDIT CARDS FOR SURVIVAL AND PROFIT
Let me make very clear right from the start that our use of credit cards has involved a very responsible set of guidelines. We pay all our bills on time and in full. Our credit rating fluctuates between 775 and 800 depending upon which credit reporting agency you ask.

Credit cards have given us a financial cushion between sign up promotional bonuses and monthly cash rewards. My refinement of credit cards as a financial survival tool lasted about eight months. What I have learned, and continue to learn about credit cards is fascinating and extremely informative. I have my accounts charted with spreadsheets for each month. Read My Credit Card Accounts Maintenance System for the details of my system.
 

Former Middle Class Trilogy
Part of My Credit Cards Accounts Maintenance System

In less than a year, I had become sophisticated in the financially lucrative use of the credit card benefits tools. All of a sudden, the additional hefty promotional signup bonus credit card memberships applications began receiving denial letters. My stellar tool of acquiring credit cards with promotional sign up bonuses of $100-$200 had lost its winning streak. Clearly, it was time to rest that tool, re-examine some of the other financial survival tools that I had discarded in the past and to research additional new tools. I was at a loss and needed new financial fertilizer.
 

Former Middle Class Trilogy
Mastering the Art of Green, The Third ebook in the Former Middle Class Trilogy @2018 Alison D. Gilbert
MASTERING THE ART OF GREEN
Mastering the art of green is a process. For me, it has involved taking stepping backwards to get a different, larger view on what ‘green’ means. It can refer to money. It can refer to food, lush grassy fields, innocence and inexperience.

Sure enough, once I stepped back and started to look at green in a new way, as fertility and productivity, new tools started to sprout. I started growing food indoors calling it, Table Top Farming. I am growing microgreen in soil and hydroponics in water.

This project is of major importance to us since healthy, live food sources can be scarce for seniors on fixed incomes. Food pantries tend to offer the lowest quality packaged/processed food. The SNAP (food stamp) program provides a miniscule amount of money to supplement nutritious food. So growing one’s own live, local greens can be better than money in one’s pocket.
 

RECONSIDERING COUPONS, STORE SALES AND SELLING SITES
Coupons and other money saving programs do have their value. They are not as lucrative as credit card sign up promotional bonuses. But what is? There again, when I took a step back to get a better perspective on what made sense for me to pursue, I found many options.

Former Middle Class Trilogy
A great savings of 50% at Michael’s Art & Craft Supplies in store and online

Some coupons like the specials CVS Pharmacy and Michaels Stores-Art Supplies, Crafts and Framing offer can be as high as 40-70%. A Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% coupon get help a lot on a $100 plus purchase. Target, Walmart and Amazon vie for top savings. In addition, there are programs that will automatically check to see if there is a savings special when an online purchase is made. These include Ebates, honey, and cently and piggy. Other apps exist that I have not yet had a chance to explore. Two of the most popular are ibotta and Groupon.

Decluttering, Sarah Mueller style can provide lots of potential items you no longer need and want to sell. The above video is from a workshop she did with an expert at selling stuff. Two of the most popular selling sites are Ebay and Etsy. I have not sold on Ebay. I do have an Etsy store, Tin Can Ali. It displays some of my painted items for fun. I have not really tried to sell anything. But Ebay can be a great place to sell things especially if you watch the Kathy Terrill videos from I Love To Be Selling.
 

CONCLUSION
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Prioritize your options. Find what is most beneficial and takes the least time to execute it. New savings hacks are invented all the time. Be resourceful. Do the research. Continue to read my and other blog posts for the latest information.
 

SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Wallet Hack’s article Target’s Store Shopping Hacks
Wallet Hack’s Article 10 Sites That Pay You Money for Things You’re Already Doing For Free
Ann Gibson The Micro Gardener
Sarah Mueller Decluttering Club
Kathy Terrill I Love To Be Selling – Kathy Terrill
Alison Gilbert’s Facebook pages and groups:
Table Top Farming
Survival Comes First
Savvy Saving Survivalism

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101 Ways to Prepare Canned Chicken

 

Introduction to Canned Chicken

Canned Chicken is among the staples given out at food pantries. I never heard of it before we needed help having enough food to eat. In my opinion, there was only one thing that sounded less appetizing. That was canned tuna in water. In fact, that smelled like cat food and was nauseating. But given the options of the few available sources of protein we could eat, I had to chose one of them. So I chose canned chicken.

canned chicken
Canned chicken from Kirkland foods and RecipesDaily.net
How The Former Middle Class Eats

The decision to incorporate this newly discovered canned food into our meal planning did not come quickly or easily. In fact, it was a humbling even painful experience. The only thing I ate out of a can before now was by choice. I could always afford fresh, whole food. Chicken never came in a can. But something had changed. We had become part of The Former Middle Class.

canned chicken
Two published eBooks and a third on the way in the 3 eBook series about ‘The Former Middle Class’
Being A National Nutritional Statistic

Not only had we become part of The Former Middle Class, but we also had become part of the Poor Middle Class Nutrition Crisis. Feeding the poor and making sure that people who need assistance can get it is a national crisis. As rich as our country is, we have a serious problem with enough food for some while there is food waste by many. Good supermarket food is dumped because of imperfections in appearance or expiration dates. According to Sustainable Table | Food Waste, “In the US, we throw away 40 percent of our food supply every year.”

canned chicken
Food Waste According to “Sustainable Table | Food Waste” SustainableTable.org
How Did This Happen to Us?

I could become historical, philosophical and even sociological about why there is a National Nutritional Food Crisis and how we went from being middle class to part of this crisis. But that is besides the point of this post. Our story is available on another post. This is not a theoretical treatise. This is our lives. So here I am with a substantial collection of canned chicken in my cupboard. I say it is there for emergencies. But the truth of the matter is, it is there because I need to learn 101 recipes for canned chicken if I want to eat every day, stay healthy, not go hungry and survive.

canned chicken
Canned Chicken Recipe from LiveLikeYouAreRich.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources and Resources

289 Recipes for Canned Chicken from RecipesDaily.net
Kirkland Foods Canned Chicken Facts
Swanson Canned Chicken Recipes
The Poor Middle Class Crisis: Introduction
The Former Middle Class
One Day from Homeless
The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook
Survival Comes First
Savvy Saving Survival
A Savvy Saving Survivalist
Frugal Meal Planning
Meal Planning with Friends!
Sustainable Table | Food Waste
Canned Chicken Dishes on Pinterest

9 Delicious and Quick Canned Chicken Recipes
21 Delicious and Quick Canned Chicken Recipes
Canned Chicken Recipes from AllRecipes.com
32 Canned Chicken Recipes for Delicious Meals You’ll Use Time and Again from MorningChores.com
Start With Canned Chicken 10 Quick and Satisfying Meals from the spruce.com
Canned Chicken Recipes from Pinterest.com
Hormel Chunk Chicken
Canned Chicken Recipes from SparkPeople.com

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A Savvy Savings Shopper

 

savvy savings shopper
A Savvy Savings Shopper Award adapted from a Pinterest image

Introduction

I am a Savvy Savings Shopper. Why do I call myself that? It is because I have had to learn, adopt and develop as many money saving, frugal habits and techniques as possible so that I could survive.

It has taken time, energy, research as well as trial and error to learn what to do and how to do it so I could be considered a savvy savings shopper. Consequently, the things that work have helped me to go from being One Day From Homeless, to a Senior Suburban Survivalist and now to A Savvy Savings Shopper.

Therefore the purpose of this blog post, A Savvy Savings Shopper, is to review some of these techniques, tools and tips I have learned. I wish to share what has worked for me with other people who need and want to survive, too. In addition, recognition goes to others who have accomplished a similar feat and to recognize them with The Savvy Savings Shopper Award.

 

ASKING FOR HELP

Back in 2008 when the stock market crashed and my husband was laid off from his job, all within one week, I realized we were going to need help. It really sank in when we had to use his pension and lose my savings just to survive. We needed help. As a result, I had to swallow my pride then learn to ask for help.

GETTING HELP

We researched and applied for whatever social services we could qualify for. We sought help from our local senior center. We got food stamps which were very helpful initially. This was because the amount we got is based upon a peculiar formula reflecting past income and medical expenses. But as time went on, our income was reduced to unemployment and there was less money for medical expenses. As a result, our monthly food stamp allotment diminished substantially.

APPLYING AND QUALIFYING FOR GOVERNMENT ASSISTED LIVING

Consequently, we had to continue to seek out other opportunities for assistance. Fortunately we did find subsidized, senior housing where we continue to live today. Refer to another blog post I wrote about affordable housing.
savvy savings shopper
 

GOING TO FOOD PANTRIES FOR FOOD

Since we had such limited income and minimal food stamps, we had to find other sources for food. There are food pantries in just about every town where we live. Most are open once a month and some are weekly. We have found the ones that work best for us. But even then, there is still a shortage of fresh produce and meat.
 

GOING TO FOOD PANTRIES FOR CLOTHES

Some food pantries also have clothes that have been donated. Depending upon the source and the community, the clothes can be very good quality. Since I cannot afford to even go to thrift stores any more, these ‘Lord’s Taylors’, as my husband calls them, are a tremendous help.
 

COUPON WEBSITES

Some websites are specifically for coupons for food, household and all kinds of item. One of them is coupons.com.

savvy savings shopper
A sample of the coupons that can be printed and downloaded from coupons.com

 

SHOPPING THROUGH CASHBACK WEBSITES
Both BeFrugal.com and ebates.com are cash back websites.
Savvy Savings Shopper
BeFrugal.com is a Cashback website

savvy savings shopper
ebates.com is a cashback website.

 

SHOPPING WHERE I GET SENIOR DISCOUNTS

AARP.COM is a great source for senior discounts. In addition, there are restaurants and stores that give discounts to seniors. But don’t wait for them to tell you. ASK rather than wait for them to let you know!

savvy savings shopper
The AARP website is a great source of senior discounts and offers
Some supermarkets give everyday discounts to seniors, like Wild By Nature. Others have senior discounts one day of the week, like Gala Fresh and Compare. Riteaid gives seniors a discount on the first Wednesday of the month.

SHOPPING AT DISCOUNT STORES

There are all kinds of discount stores from cheap dollar stores to high end ones. My favorite is HomeGoods. In fact, if you use their credit card for purchases, you earn points and get a $10 store coupon for each 1000 points earned.

savvy savings shopper
HomeGoods is my favorite discount store that carries designer items from food to furniture

savvy savings shopper
I am a CVS Supersaver in the top 4% of their stores in New York.
SHOPPING WHERE I GET GREAT SAVINGS

CVS Pharmacy, their official name, carries much more than prescriptions. I buy all kinds of household items there. Because they regularly offer discount coupons, I regularly shop at their stores. In fact, they just acknowledged me as being in the top 4% of supersavers in their New York stores. This is because I regularly make purchases at deep discounts from CVS. These include:
• all my paper goods
• vitamins
• kitchen accessories
• dental care products
• occasional candy and dessert treats
• nasal and vision aids
• over the counter medical needs
• clothes and shoes
• hair care products
• special body soaps
• skin care products

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird's eye maple table with colorful legs. © Decorative Painting by Alison Gilbert
Bird’s eye maple table with colorful legs. © Decorative Painting by Alison Gilbert
GETTING FURNISHINGS FROM THE TRASH (STREET FINDS) AND GARAGE SALES

Unless something is made out of fabric and stuffing, like beds and chairs, I have gotten almost all our furniture from street finds or garage sales. In fact, the quality of old wooden furniture is far superior to the new cheap materials, chipboard and fast growing pine. Consequently, old furniture is in demand.

After honing my skills on pieces I got at at little or no cost or my own furniture, I took on client work and started a business painting,customer furniture and creating custom decorations.
From this, my own 5-Step Decorative Painting System emerged. Here are the five steps involved:
1. Prep
2. Prime
3. Paint
4. Prettify
5. Protect

A manual that describes the process step-by-step is in progress. This makes it possible for anyone to upcycle old furniture and furnishings.

 

USING CREDIT CARDS RESPONSIBLY

PLEASE NOTE THE NEW SECTION DEVOTED TO CREDIT CARDS USAGE. BECAUSE OF THIS, CREDIT CARD USE SYSTEMS ARE NO LONGER PART OF SAVVY SHOPPING SAVINGS TOOLS.

Because of the potential financial dangers of using credit cards irresponsibly, I especially caution that only people with excellent credit and extreme diligence with their use of credit cards follow these ideas. I compiled two booklet from resource materials that detail the best credit cards to use for cash back and travel rewards. They are The Best Cash Back Credit Cards and The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards. Furthermore, there is a website creditcards.com that will actually calculate which are the best credit cards to use for individual needs.

savvy savings shopper
Credit Cards from Linkedin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARTICIPATING IN SOCIAL MEDIA ON THIS TOPIC

Participating in Facebook groups and pages as well as websites can provide lots of new information. The groups can also function as support groups. I strongly recommend joining and participating. Some of my favorite sources are listed below.

READING AND WRITING BLOG POSTS WITH SUGGESTIONS ON THIS TOPIC

Reading and writing blog posts are two great ways of learning new tips as well as processing what one knows on this topic. Here is another blog post I wrote on this topic, Living A Consciously Frugal Life.

READ EVERYTHING I CAN ON THIS TOPIC AND WRITE AN eBOOK ABOUT IT

Especially relevant to writing on this topic to read, are other sources of material. Based upon extensive research and writing, I composed, The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook. It is designed to ‘tell our story’, going from ‘One Day from Homeless’ to where we are now. The book is filled with savvy savings shopper tips.

a Savvy Savings Shopper
Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook
Conclusion

In conclusion, the list of resources is growing exponentially. It will continue to grow as the need and demand for savvy shavings shopping tips increases.

Sources and Resources

The Savvy Savings Shopper Facebook page
Savvy Shopper Savings Facebook group
A Senior Suburban Survivalist Facebook page
Senior Suburban Survivalism Facebook group
Survival Comes First Facebook page
WiseBread.com website with a Facebook page
WalletHacks.com website with a Facebook page
CreditCards.com website with a Facebook page
NerdWallet.com website with a Facebook page

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THE POOR MIDDLE CLASS NUTRITION CRISIS

 

Why This Post Is Called A Nutrition Crisis Rather Than A Food Crisis
The Poor Middle Class Nutrition crisis is due to the lack of healthy, nutritious, especially locally grown food. It is not as much about the availability of food itself. There are plenty of sources for cheap, empty calorie items. But access to affordable, healthy, local food is a the root of the Poor Middle Class Nutrition Crisis. The major food challenges for the Poor Middle Class are:
• having access to healthy food
• affording to eat healthy food
• eating enough nutritionally rich food
• staying healthy by being able to eat healthfully

Nutrition Crisis
Food Tank Suggests Community Gardens To Solve Health Issues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges & Solutions to the Poor Middle Class Nutrition Crisis
The following tools for accessing food have both pros and cons. The one thing they have in common is the added expense of time. Some involve monetary cost. Others are financially free. There is always a trade-off. This can also require a significant adjustment in lifestyle if one is used to supermarket shopping for quick and easy access. Here are some suggested alternatives that are mainstream or government sponsored:

• Buy In Bulk

• Use Store & Brand Coupons

• Barter & Exchange Products

• Get WIC & Farmers Market Coupons

• Go To Food Pantries

• Collect Food Stamps

 

Here are Alternative Lifestyle Means of Obtaining Food

• Grow Your Own from seeds and food scraps-Here is a post about starting a community garden.

nutrition crisis
10 Steps To Starting a Community Garden from the American Community Garden Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Go Dumpster Diving-This food was retrieved from dumpster diving

nutrition crisis
My Facebook Page, Resources for The Middle Class Poor

• Foraging for Food is making use of nature’s bounty, free for the taking, with gratitude. Be sure you are a pro or are foraging with a pro. You want to pick healthy not deadly items.

• Farm your own chickens for eggs, cows for milk and goats for milk

• Make Your Own Essentials and Seasonal Treats with fermentation, canning and other wholesome preserving techniques.Here is a great alternative. It is the Afro Jam story. I just love their graphics.

nutrition crisis
A Detroit Urban Farm Preserves Black History In Jam Form by Martina Guzman

• Kill Your Own Food-This is a controversial but reasonable alternative. It is probably the cleanest source of animal protein, fish and fowl. It certainly is much harder to obtain than at the supermarket. But you know exactly where it comes from. It also brings us much closer to nature in relationship with the animal that has died for us to survive.

nutrition crisis
Why We Should All Be Ethical Carnivores Now by Louise Gray from Slow Food USA

The Issue of Hunger
In addition to the existence of a nutrition crisis, there are people who go hungry in this country. Each of these crises is unique. Here is a short list about hunger and health:
• hunger is the result of a lack of food
• health is the result of a lack of healthy food
• accessibility and availability are issues
• poverty and homelessness can be a contributing factor
• food waste is a very serious contributor to food insecurity

nutritional crisis
Food Insecurity and Food Waste Are Opposite Sides of the Same Coin from The John Oliver Show

 

 

 

 

Sources & Resources
10 Steps to Starting A Community GardenUPDATE: Man Who Broke Into Restaurant, Ate Food, Urinated in Garbage Can Won’t Face Charges

Trump: 43 million Americans on food stamps By Nadia Pflaum from www.politifact.com

Why we should all be ethical carnivours now

The Slow Food Movement

Slow Food Manifesto

Joy Bilee Farmg

The Homestead Hippie

Homesteading on Facebook

Cambridge Sustainable Food

Grow Your Own Food from Food Scraps

A Detroit Urban Farm Preserves Black History In Jam

Food Waste In America According to the John Oliver Show

Millenials Fuel UK Food Waste Mountain

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Walmart Gives to Food Pantries While Workers Qualify for Food Stamps

As part of a holiday charity campaign, the Walmart Foundation last month donated $1.5 million to food pantries across the country, while hundreds of thousands of Walmart’s own workers struggle to feed themselves and their families thanks to the corporation’s famously low wages.

Source: rhrealitycheck.org

How do you feel about this? What do you think should be done?

See on Scoop.itThe Cultural & Economic Landscapes

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Help, I need a wool soup recipe.

wool soup recipe
Help, I need a wool soup recipe
So far no one has come up with a wool soup recipe for me. Why do I need one? you may ask. Well, it involves a story. So I hope you don’t mind. Have a seat and make yourself at home.

In 2008, when the stock market crashed . . . . Let’s stop right there and go to a shorter version of my story. We are part of The Middle Class Poor. We get food stamps, go to food pantries and get assistance for living. I am not sure how much living one can call this when food stamps is $17 per month (it went up from $15!). Food pantries have no food we can eat. That is where the wool soup recipe comes into the story.

Garden Pool
Turning a worn out swimming pool into a source of food for a family from ‘GardenPool’

One of the food pantries we go to is in a church that has a wealthy congregation. I get clothes from Talbot, Lord & Taylor and lots of other prestigious names. It is fun to get new clothes each month. But I need food. I need real food not peanut butter and jelly or mac ‘n cheese. So therein lies my problem. I had become clothes rich and food poor. If I could only find a wool soup recipe, then I could be both food and clothes rich. No wool soup recipe has appeared or is likely to do so in the near future. It became apparent to me that I would have to find another solution to our hunger/nutrition crisis. I decided to call it The Food Project.

The Food Project
Art & Bytes, The Food Project

The first idea was something called, Donate It Local. I started my research by going around to local restaurants and supermarkets to see if they would like to donate food that was not used up by the end of the day or was about to expire. The answer was the same everywhere. ‘Sorry, but we can’t risk the liability if someone gets sick’. ‘If someone gets sick’, I thought. Hah, I’ll risk it. It’s better than going hungry. But not as far as the powers that be saw it. They could only respond in terms of their potential legal situation instead of the real food/nutrition crisis.

Donate It Local
An attempt to enlist local stores and restaurants to donate fresh food.

My next effort was part of the Global Food rEvolution. The focus was on fighting for healthier, non-gmo food. I participated in that for a while by posting about everything to do with GMOs and their danger. I also announced all the marches and activities I could for Occupy Monsanto and other such rallies. But we were still hungry and the amount of money we had available for food when our food stamps were cut from $367/month to $15/month was a shocking wake-up call that we had to do some thing more immediate and personal.

Occupy Monsanto
The Occupy Monsanto Facebook page felt like right approach at first
Global Food rEvolution
But my Global Food rEvolution was feeling more subdued, peaceful and based in my gut.

Back to Basics and Millenial Food Freedom felt more personal and hands on for us than ‘occupying’ a global corporation. I began to make my own laundry detergent and thought about other ways to save money.

Back to Basics
What a great feeling to make something yourself and not buy it prepared
Millenial Food Freedom
Millenial Food Freedom provides probiotics lemonade now not after the Food Revolution

When we were receiving $367/month in food stamps, I was able to food shop in our local health food supermarket and get the kind of foods we needed to stay healthy. One of my favorites had become Kombucha. It is a fermented tea that is high in probiotics, energy boosting and very healthy. But at $3.50 a bottle and $15/month in food stamps, a disparity existed-no more store bought Kombucha. So I started to make my own. I became more involved in making other fermented foods and drinks too. For fun, I named my efforts, Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen.

Ali's Kombucha Kitchen
Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen is where the miracle of fermentation takes place every day

I now spend most of my time in Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen as A Food Fermentation Farmer doing what I call, Fermented Food Farming. I have no land. I have no garden. I do not have a single flower pot. But I have managed to learn how to cook, prepare and preserve fermented and cultured food stuffs that are nutrient rich and delicious.

A Food Fermentation Farmer
The bounty of A Food Fermentation Farmer
Fermented Food Farming
The tools for Fermented Food Farming

One of my traditional nutrition favorites is bone broth. It is as old as the hills as are many of the other culturally indigenous foods and beverages I am learning to make. Many of these traditions have Facebook groups where I can meet other like-minded folks and discuss our experiences.

The BoneBroth Pot Group
The BoneBroth Pot Group Image on Facebook

We still have a ways to go. But I already feel as warm and nourished inside like when I have a wool sweater or skirt on the outside. I may not have found my wool soup recipe. But wool has led me in the right direction. I will not rest until I have found The 100 Percent Solution for the hunger/nutrition crisis for everyone.

The 100 Percent Project
The 100 Percent Project’s goal is the solution to global hunger and malnturtion
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Resources for the Middle Class Poor

social justice advocate

Are you part of the Middle Class Poor? We are. How did it happen? What are we doing about it? These are the two questions I will answer in this blog post.

photo of Randi Shubin Dresner
Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest
I’d like to make a few points about being Middle Class Poor. We are not alone. The problem is increasing. The government plans to have less involvement in helping to solve this problem. For example, as illustrated in her article, Hunger is all around us, yet it doesn’t have to be, Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest explains what is going on. Her post starts with the following statement, “The recent vote by Congress to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — the food stamp program known as SNAP — over the next 10 years is alarming. If these cuts become law, those who are already struggling to afford food will be thrust into further hardship, increasing hunger across America and right here on Long Island.”

Because the problem is increasing and the government will have less to do with solving it, we will have to find alternative resources to solve it ourselves. That is a big part of the reason for the title of this post and the creation of a Facebook group, Resources for the Middle Class Poor. There are many private donors and nonprofit resources, like the Island Harvest Food Bank that are currently helping people.

Island Harvest website
Island Harvest website

Right now, I would like to go back to the question, how did it happen? For us, the answer is simple, ‘2008’. In the same week, my husband was laid off from his job and the stock market crashed. The fallout from that led to my own crash, physically and emotionally. I was hospitalized and became unable to work. Our lives have changed dramatically in the last five years. We had savings, we had security and we thought we had stability. The rug was completely pulled out from under us. We went from being middle class to being middle class poor.

The upside of having our lives turned upside down is that our new lives have brought us extraordinary challenges and opportunities that we never imagined experiencing. Sometimes it has been terrifying. But the more we go through, the more miracles we have received and the stronger we become. Our fear has been replaced with faith. We are inspired to pass on to others what we are learning as we help ourselves navigate our new path as part of the Middle Class Poor.

For more resource information, refer to my facebook page and group shown below.

My husband volunteers working with others and is actually studying to become credentialed in a helping field. I have gone completely wild applying my years of social media marketing studies to using social media as a communication tool for this serious, real life issue. I have created numerous facebook pages including, The Middle Class Poor and the companion group, Resources for the Middle Class Poor. As we help ourselves to grow into our new state of existence, we are working to help others who are in situations similar to ours. Together we will change the world. It may only be our world. But as Ghandi is credited with saying, ‘Be the change in the world you want to see’.

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