Like many families who’ve lost their homes, my husband and I are without a kitchen. So we can’t, as we usually do, prepare meals from scratch.
But we’re still trying to eat healthfully–lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein sources, etc. It’s proving a challenge–one that surely affects not only other homeless people, but countless low-income people who’ve still got a place to live.
For us, the challenge isn’t access to sources of healthful foods. We’re within walking distance of a full-service grocery store that’s got a salad bar, plus a deli with already-cooked vegetables and meats. That’s certainly not the case for many of our fellow Washington, D.C. residents. The entirety of Ward 8–the District’s poorest ward–has only one major grocery store.
But relying on carryout for a healthful diet is proving inordinately expensive. Meals for the two of us are averaging about $50 per day. That’s about three times as much as we’re used to spending and at least five times what we could afford if we relied on food stamps.
So it seems that the vast majority of homeless people, except those doubled up with friends or relatives, face enormous obstacles to eating healthfully–even greater than those that confront poor people as a whole.
The federally-funded free school meal program is obviously especially important for homeless children. For homeless adults and younger children, the best hope seems to be one free meal a day–or maybe two–from a local nonprofit “soup kitchen.” But these programs can’t begin to do what’s necessary to enable the growing number of homeless people to eat healthfully.
I’m more aware of the day-to-day challenges, but I don’t have any new insights for solutions. What about you?