MACAA Employees On Poverty Diet

By: Venton Blandin
By: Venton Blandin

November 13, 2006

The nation's economy is doing well with record high on the stock market, and low unemployment, but there are still people struggling to make ends meet.

The Monticello Area Community Action Agency is putting its money where its mouth is by going on a "poverty diet" for a few days.

Every Virginian shops inside a grocery store. Some of them cannot buy every day items because they are poor.

"We hope people will understand what it's like to get by on such a small amount of money for food," said Connie Jorgensen of the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.

Getting by on that small amount are 500,000 Virginians who are on food stamps. Their monthly budget for food alone adds up to about $58. The Monticello Area Community Action Agency wants you to understand how hard it is for someone to support themselves on so little. Employees at MACAA like Connie Jorgensen have put themselves on a "poverty diet."

"It's a way to get a taste, if you will, of food stamps and living as a poor person does," added Jorgensen."

The poverty diet lasts for three days. Participants can spend no more than $2.83 a day. MACAA chief financial officer, who is good with numbers, learned he had to make more budget cuts than expected.

"It took a lot angst, a lot of pain, and a lot of choices. We had to choose between milk and orange juice," said David Moore of MACAA.

The angst and pain strikes MACAA by choice. MACAA executive director Phillip Dukes grew up on food stamps, and feels this is a good project for staff.

"It helps you to empathize and sympathize a lot more with people who have to live this way, and can not but this food," said Phillip Dukes of MACAA.

MACAA will hold a beans and rice dinner on the final day for everyone involved in the poverty diet to discuss what needs to be done to raise awareness on poverty in our community.

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