Easter Sunday with my Massachusetts family was a huge deal growing up.  The whole family goes to my grandmothers and it is an all day affair with a wild party atmosphere.  The theme of the day is stuffing your face with as many goodies as possible.  We not only had the traditional Easter ham, but an Easter turkey as well.  The sides, my personal favorite, were endless.  The dessert options were absurdly numerous and taking less than three slices of something sweet is unheard of.  Usually everyone drinks Bud Light the whole day and 
everyone is passing out by 8pm.  Easter at my Nannie’s was always a wonderful holiday and I miss it every year.

Not to say that my Easters here in the Bay Area are deprived.  I spend it with my husband, his sister and my in-laws.  It is not as big a deal as back east, and we usually just celebrate together with a nice meal at home.  My mother-in-law is from Vermont and is an amazing cook, with everything being made from scratch.  Cooking in the Bay Area, you have access to the freshest, highest quality ingredients at your fingertips.  When my mother-in-law cooks, she has the resources to buy all organic and local meats and produce and purchase those wicked expensive specialty items, like Mediterranean seafood steaming broth ($12.95 for 26.5 oz).  It is tomato sauce with garlic in a fancy bottle.  We all drink expensive, local wine and drink a lot of it, and we all are passing out by 8pm.  It’s funny how drinking Bud Light or Pinot all day equals the same result at night.   Easter dinner usually consists of my mother-in-law cooking and baking for two days and lots of leftovers for us poor kids to take home on Monday morning. It is fancy, delicious  and wonderful.

This year, the sister-in-law is away traveling and the father-in-law is on day 1 of riding his bike to Massachusetts (yes, from California).  Instead of cooking, we decided to go to a late lunch at a fancy place in Menlo Park (think upscale Silicon Valley) that was having a set Easter dinner meal.  At $68.00 a person, this surprisingly won’t be the most expensive set menu meal I have ever had (that prize goes to brunch at the Ritz, $80.00 per person, includes one glass of champagne- no free refills).  I am wearing a fancy hand-me-down dress and shoes from Goodwill.  We made a plan to get there early, so we can have daytime cocktails at the bar while taking in the beautiful view.  It will probably not be a crappy meal.

Then tomorrow I start the challenge.  Read the “food stamp challenge” section to learn what it is and why I am doing it.  I will be eating no more than $4.00 a day worth of food sold to me within walking distance of my house.  I won’t be able to steep my morning cup of organic white tea, or make a sandwich of avocado and sprouts on seeded whole grain bread for lunch.  I won’t be able to look through cooks.com for a recipe and then go out and buy 3/4 of the required ingredients.  And I won’t be opening a bottle of Cab to enjoy while I eat a little piece of cheesecake that was made in Berkley.  Nope- the wine alone would put me over my $4.00 allotment.

This will take planning on my part.  I will be hungry.  I will not have many choices.  It will be hard to get proper nutrition into my meals.  I will not be eating the extravagant, unnecessary foods I am used too.  I will be eating what many of my neighbors will be eating.  I will be eating what 39.6 million people in the United States will be eating.  But I will only be doing it for five days, while they face hunger everyday of the year.

But for now, I am eating a dinner that costs $68- seventeen days worth of food for someone on food stamps- in one meal.

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