Food Bloggers Against Hunger: Can you eat well on $4 a day?

No Kid Hungry, Share our Strength, low budget meal


Today I am joining about 200 other food bloggers to bring awareness to a growing problem in our country- Hunger.

Were you like me? The first time I heard that so many children in our country were hungry I thought- but aren’t we fighting childhood obesity? Where are the hungry children?

The answer is that they are often one in the same.

FBAH_Logoae221668e3afDuring my first semester as a Masters student in Nutrition at Columbia we had to live on a Food Stamp (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- SNAP) budget for a full week. In those days it was $3/day per person- $21 for an entire week of groceries. Since then the allotment has gone up a dollar a day- but so has the number of participants who rely on food stamps to feed themselves week after week. The last study showed that here has been about a 50% rise in the number of people relying on SNAP since the economic downturn. As a result of Hurricane Sandy the numbers are expected to rise again.



How does Hunger lead to Obesity?

One of the first things you realize when you go to the supermarket, that there are a whole lot of foods that you just cannot afford to buy. Hunger is a terrible companion, so any way to make those dollars stretch you’re going to do it. Fruits and fresh vegetables are quite costly, but rice, pasta, chips, cakes and breads can go a long way. It’s hard to justify 80 cents for a single apple when you can get a huge bag of chips for not much more.

Obesity is not necessarily a lack of calories, but a lack of good nutrition.

It may be hard to get your mind around this- but many obese and overweight persons are nutritionally “starving” . Diets that are high in refined starches, added sugars and high in salt can lead to many health issues, including obesity and diabetes.

The High Price of Low Cost Eating

There is a huge cost to poor nutrition- both financially in terms of health care, and socially in terms of raising a generation of healthy minds and bodies. This is one situation where positive input early on can save us from the waterfall of problems later on down the line.

PLEASE take a few minutes to watch this trailer– It is fascinating and amazing- I PROMISE you will enjoy it.

What Can you do NOW? Click once, and then sit in a chair.

Your input can make a huge difference. We like to think that “someone” is going to fix this problem and you are correct- that person is you taking a small action to initiate the change.

Please take one minute- just ONE minute- to head over to this page at NO Kid Hungry: Share our Strength and send a letter to congress. It’s all laid out for you, just fill in the boxes and click to send. After you’ve done that, please come back here and leave me a note saying that you did- I personally want to thank you.

The next thing you can do is sit in a chair. That’s right- just sit there-and watch a movie- A Place at the Table. You can catch it HERE on iTunes.

For more information you can visit  Share our Strength.

Recipes that are budget friendly and healthy

The recipe shown at the top of the page  is both budget friendly and good for you. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think may need it, and here are some other recipes that also fit the bill:

Whole Wheat Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms

Polenta Tart with Spinach and Scallions

Quinoa Patties



Again: Please share with me your hunger experiences, and please let me know that you signed the petition, I want to thank you personally.


White Bean Patties with Mexican Corn
This budget friendly recipe is also packed with protein and healthy fiber. You may substitute other beans here too: black beans, kidney beans etc. Serves 4
491 calories
96 g
1 g
4 g
24 g
1 g
472 g
1562 g
20 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 491
Calories from Fat 35
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 1mg
Sodium 1562mg
Total Carbohydrates 96g
Dietary Fiber 16g
Sugars 20g
Protein 24g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the Patties
  1. 3 cups of cooked white beans (2 cans rinsed)
  2. 1/2 cup red bell pepper, about half a pepper, diced
  3. 1/2 cup scallions, sliced, about 3 stalks
  4. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
  8. 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  9. Cooking Spray
For the Corn
  1. 1 teaspoon canola oil
  2. 1 jalepeno pepper, minced
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 3 cups frozen corn
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cilantro cream
  1. 1 cup non fat greek yogurt
  2. 1/2 cup cilantro, minced- about a quarter of a bunch
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
Make the Patties
  1. In a large bowl place the beans, and using the back of a large spoon, mash the beans roughly, making a paste but leaving about a quarter un-mashed for texture.
  2. Add the peppers, scallions, garlic, cumin, salt and hot sauce and stir to combine. Then add the breadcrumbs and gently stir to incorporate.
  3. With cleans hands moistened with water, make 8 equal sized patties and set aside.
  4. Heat either a frying pan or grill pan on medium heat and spritz with cooking spray.
  5. Cook the patties until crisp and golden on each side.
For the Corn
  1. In a frying pan warm the oil and then add the garlic and jalepeno. Saute 2 minutes, then add the corn and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.
For the Cream
  1. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and serve with the patties.
  1. The patties freeze well. Make a double batch and save some for another day.
A Stack of Dishes


  1. Thank you for this post – I learned about this food blogger round up too late in the game to post but will participate in every other level. This is an unacceptable issue we have in our country today.

    • Gail Watson says:

      It’s never too late to spread the word Deanna- thank you for all that you are doing. I really appreciate it.

  2. Great post! I’m so excited to be part of the group today. Plus, your dish looks lovely. Can’t wait to try it!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! Such a worthy cause. You put together a fabulous meal!

  4. Thanks for participating with us today, and for writing such a great post!

    • Gail Watson says:

      Congratulations on producing such a wonderful event for a good cause. Glad to do what I can.

  5. Great post, Gail! Such a worthy cause. just an FYI- I was not able to view the embedded video. I’m getting an error message. I was interested though so I googles it.

    • Gail Watson says:

      Thank you for your comment Lydia- and the heads up. For whatever reason I couldn’t get the video to work after deleting and reloading- so I replaced it with a link. Technology rocks- until it doesn’t 🙂

  6. Hi Gail!
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and post with us. I’m bummed that I didn’t learn about this effort until today but I would love to help in any way possible. I think it’s a tragedy that it’s cheaper to buy a box of ramen noodles than a pack of fresh berries. I should know, I bought a lot of ramen noodles in college.

    • Gail Watson says:

      Thank you Mribel- there is a lot of work to be done and even just spreading the word is helpful. With more awareness things can change.

  7. Excellent points – and spot on. It makes me crazy that the foods we should be eating, those that nourish and sustain (and are delicious, to boot) are the most expensive. Our love of convenience is coming back to haunt us in terms of our health and the health of our planet.

    • Gail Watson says:

      Agreed Annie- I keep thinking that future generations will look at us and shake their heads at junk food the way we now look back on cigarette smoking. Thx for your comment.

  8. great post. The bean patties look completely delicious – and healthy too! How was it, living on $3 per day in New York?

    • Gail Watson says:

      Hi Sara- Thx for asking- you know.. it was terrible. It was depressing and exhausting. A lot of other students talked about the emotional impact and how it made them feel badly about themselves emotionally and then the cr*ppy food make them feel badly internally. Those with time and creativity were able to work around it, by doing things like making their own bread for instance. But when you are a low income wage earner, extra time is not really available, and not having time to shop and prepare is a huge factor.

      I survived the week. I lost 3 pounds and gained a ton of insight. If you’re up for it- I invite you to try it for a few days. It’s really an amazing experience.

  9. What a great blog post, I’m so glad to also participate in this great blogging event. Your recipes sounds delicious, and I can’t wait to try it out. You brought up a good point, that obesity and food insecurity go hand in hand, many do not understand that. I hope this reaches a lot of people, and they take that step forward to do the right thing and spread the word!

  10. So important to make that point–the epidemic in obesity and the rising rates of hungry households are not separate issues. Not separate from each other, and not separate from any of us. Great post!

  11. What a terrific post! I have been away on biz and just catching up on my reading. I’ll definitely check out those links and videos. What you are saying here is so true. As a former personal trainer, and one who also was majoring in nutrition when in college, I agree with what you are saying. Cheaper food can go a longer way but they are normally loaded with sugars, breads, sodium, etc. Fast food is cheap and plentiful, but also very fatty and unhealthy. This country needs to find a way to make healthful foods more affordable and easily available to everyone, while also doing a better job of educating the benefits. Hey, great recipe you posted here too. High protein and low fat.

  12. Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my own blogroll.


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