I am Maria Powell, the owner of Dormition Professional Services, a longtime friend and supporter of Fr. Agapios and Presbytera Dorah and St. Tabitha House, the web designer of this site, and the godmother of one of St. Tabitha’s smallest children. I’m afraid you’ll be hearing rather a lot from me in the coming month, as I am working closely with St. Tabitha’s to embark on what is proving to be a very exciting project – a #KenyanFoodChallenge.
We actually started this on Monday, but my family has committed to starting “for real” on May 1st, and, except for the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – our church’s feast day! – we will continue through the month of May.
What exactly are we doing, and what does this have to do with Saint Tabitha Orthodox Orphanage and School?
I’m so glad you asked!
The Powell Family is spending at least 30 days exploring traditional Kenyan foods and eating somewhat similarly to the children at St. Tabitha’s. Now, being Americans, and having easy access to a bit more abundance, I often point out that what we eat is technically much more extravagant than what the children there eat. We have easier access to a wider variety of fresh foods, meats, and organic products delivered cheaply to our door. Yet, how much would we save if we ate more simply than we normally do? And what could be done with those savings?
I did some research. I have polled, so far, 200 families from different states and countries, with different incomes and varying amounts of children. My poll, thus far, includes 894 people – 423 adults, 455 children, and 19 nursing babies (including bottle-fed babies.) Some families have no children, some are single-parent families, three families have eight children. What I have found so far is very much in line with the USDA survey from last month. The “average” family of four – two adults and two kids (without regard for age) – spends about $199 per week on food. The USDA survey would put this solidly in their “low-cost plan” column, with a family of four spending between $164 and $194 depending on the age of the children. By person, that’s $49.25 a week using my averages and between $41 and $48.50 per person on the USDA’s low-cost list. For my family of three, that would mean an “average” budget would allot $147.75 per week, and the USDA low-cost budget would allow between $123 and $145.50. I am feeling pretty great about our average of $125 right now. And we eat well, but really, it’s never quite enough for the growing boy.
So, enter the Kenyan Food Challenge! I suggested that an average family might save $25 or $50 eating similarly to the students at St. Tabitha for a week. So far, I think my original guess was WAY OFF!
I started by speaking to Presbytera Dorah about the meals the children eat at St. Tabitha’s. I asked other Kenyan friends what THEIR favorite dishes were. I got on google and youtube and found some great recipes and tutorials on cooking. Then, finally having a plan, I went grocery shopping last Monday, and I bought some ingredients on Thrive Marketplace and Brandless for the coming week (They’ll be here tomorrow! I’m getting even more excited)!
For my family of three, I have, so far, spent $65.42 (a $63 savings!), and I have a TON of leftovers. I didn’t use any coupons or shop any sales, and the ONLY things I had in my kitchen were a pound of collard greens and some coffee. Seriously, I had to borrow some salt from a neighbor before payday! I think we also had some black pepper and garlic, but suffice it to say that this was my first grocery trip of the pay period, and last month was a bit on the difficult side.
Here’s the breakdown of my $65.42 (USD):
- black eyed peas: $1.32
- black beans: $2.49
- diced tomatoes (three cans): $1.35
- a big bag of onions: $1.79
- two 3-lb bags of sweet potatoes: $3.88
- 2 fresh beefsteak tomatoes: $1.00
- 3 avocados: $4.50
- 2 cans of corn: $2.07
- 3 ears of corn: $1.00
- olive oil: $2.49
- Cornmeal: $1.49
- Organic non-GMO cornmeal: $2.99
- Sorghum flour: $2.89
- Millet meal: $3.29
- Coconut cream: $1.99
- Cumin: $0.99
- Organic pink Himalayan salt: $1.00
- Curry powder: $1.09
- Coconut milk: $1.99
- Flat-leaf spinach: $1.49
- Cabbage: $1.19
- Cilantro/Coriander (3 HUGE bunches): $1.00
- 1 lb of fresh organic root: $1.99
- 5 beets: $2.99
- 5 lb bag of Idaho potatoes: $1.99
- 4 green plantains: $2.00
- 1 jar of organic beef bullion: $1.59
- 1.2 pounds of beef stew meat: $6.02
- Can of coffee: $6.00
The sorghum and millet, the second cornmeal, and the coconut milk will be here tomorrow. I will need to get more tomatoes, corn, and onions this week, but I think that’s it.
Here is what we still have left:
- most of a bag of black beans
- most of a bag of red kidney beans
- half a bag of blackeyed peas
- three pounds of sweet potatoes
- 2 ears of fresh corn
- half a bottle of olive oil
- a bag and a half of cornmeal
- sorghum flour
- millet meal
- most of a jar of cumin
- most of a jar of organic pink salt
- most of a jar of curry powder
- coconut milk
- half a bag of flat-leaf spinach
- 2/3 head of cabbage
- 2 huge bunches of cilantro/coriander
- 2/3 pound of ginger root
- 4 beets
- 4 pounds of potatoes
- most of a jar of beef bullion
- half a can of coffee (we drink a lot of coffee!)
- half a pound of beef stew meat
- 4 QUARTS of leftover stew in the freezer
- one day of breakfast in the fridge
- 2 more nights of stew in the fridge
- 4 more servings of kachumbari (onion and tomato salad)
- half a batch of ugali in the fridge
Does anybody else feel like I almost have more than I started with? Truly, I think I will only need to buy corn, tomatoes, and onions this week! This leads me to believe that doing this challenge for two weeks or more will save substantially more money than staying with it for my initially-planned week (which is still a substantial savings).
But, again, what has any of this to do with St. Tabitha’s?
What if you could support the kids at St. Tabitha Orthodox Orphanage and School without having to SPEND EXTRA MONEY?
How much good could be done with even $63?
- My $63 savings in my first week is enough to feed one child at St. Tabitha’s for TWO MONTHS!
- The $300+ I anticipate saving this month is enough to send one secondary school student or two primary school students to school for a year AND feed them for a month!
And this is money that isn’t coming out of my budget; it was ALREADY earmarked to be spent!
How much would YOU save in just one week of the #KenyanFoodChallenge? How much would that help the children at St. Tabitha’s?
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