Family Food Menu Simulation

| March 1, 2014

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Overview:
How easy is it for persons living in at 100% of the poverty threshold to make ends meet and to eat healthy meals? This activity will give you a chance to approximate this aspect of living in poverty. For many of you, this experience will be very different from your personal experiences, but for others, this may be an all-too-familiar experience. Either way, I hope it can give you a new perspective or appreciation of your life experiences so far.
Please carefully read the instructions for each component of this assignment.
1. Select a family profile below.
Your profile provides the economic context for this assignment. Select one of the family profiles from below.
a. Family of four people, one female age 20-40, and 3 children (you choose the ages).
b. Family of four, one male and one female ages 20-50, two children (you choose the ages)
c. Family of four, two males or two females age 20-50, two children (you choose the ages)
2. Determine what it takes to live.
Determine the poverty threshold for your new fictional family from the Census table for 2013: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/index.html. That amount is your family’s annual income.
Next, estimate how much money you will have for food after accounting for housing, auto/transportation, and child care needs (if applicable). Use the National Center for Children in Poverty website http://www.nccp.org/tools/frs/budget.php to get an estimate of your family’s expenses and what you might need to cut from your life given your circumstances.
3. Develop a nutritious menu for meals you would prepare for one week (Monday to Sunday).
Include 3 meals daily (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that are adequate for a nutritious diet for your family. You can plan meals that include leftovers from previous meals.
Format your menu in a table using Excel or Word. Include this table with your submission.
You may consult the following websites for ideas and information about what constitutes a nutritious meal. Don’t just copy a menu from one of these sites – this is plagiarism! Be creative in planning your menu! Be sure to cite sources as appropriate.
• http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DietaryGuidelines.htm
• http://w.foodcount.com/nutrition/pdf/USDAlowcostmeals.pdf
• http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/
• http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=DIETARY_HEALTH&navtype=RT&parentnav=FOOD_NUTRITION
4. Determine how much it would cost to prepare your menu for the week.
Using the menu you created, develop a shopping list of the food you will need for the week. You may assume that a few staples, such as salt, pepper, other condiments, flour, and sugar are already available in your kitchen. In your shopping list, include all other necessary food and beverage items.
Next, go to a local grocery store and record the price for each item on your list. If you cannot make it to a local grocery store, go online and price the items needed for your list. Add up the cost of the items on your list.
Format your shopping list in a table so that you can easily record the prices and quantity. Include this table with your submission.
5. Write an analysis of your results and experience.
In a paper of about four pages, excluding title page and references, discuss the following issues:
1. Briefly describe your economic context. Provide enough detail to give me a sense of what your fictional family looks like, where they live, what their circumstances are. In other words, specify the demographics of your family (ages and gender of family members, where you live, your income at the poverty threshold); general expenses you have (e.g., child care, housing, transportation, etc.); whether your family receives any state assistance (e.g., EITC, SNAP, TANF, unemployment insurance, etc.), and how this contributes to the cash on hand you have to spend for food.
2. Discuss the following issues: How much did you have to spend to prepare your week’s menu? Considering your fictional family’s income, and assuming this was a typical weekly menu, what percentage of your income did you spend? Is this feasible given the other expenses you have identified already for this fictional family? If you think it is feasible, explain how you were able to make ends meet and feed the family nutritiously. If you think it is not feasible, then explain why you think this is so. What makes it not feasible?
3. Compare the experience: Discuss two ways in which the menu you developed for this project either (a) differed from or (b) was similar to your experiences growing up. Or, if you are fully supporting yourself now, you can compare the menu with your current living situation.
Were there any factors or experiences in your childhood that prepared you for this experience? For example, were there skills or knowledge you possessed coming into this exercise that helped you? Explain.
4. Reflect on the experience: What has participating in this activity shown you about the realities of providing food on a limited budget? Note that I am the only person who will be reading these papers, so please feel free to share as openly as you feel comfortable. Any information you share will remain confidential.
Formatting specifications
Your assignment should include the following:
1. The four page paper should be double spaced and follow all APA style and formatting conventions including a cover page, citations, and a reference page. Because it is an essay, you do not need an abstract. Please consult online APA resources for assistance.
2. Tables should be numbered and labeled and should follow your written work. Table 1 should include your menu for the week. Table 2 should include your shopping list and the actual prices you found for each item, including the grand total for the weekly menu.
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