My week (5 days, actually) is over and I successfully stayed within my daily 3SquaresVT budget. I learned a few things and I am sure that these revelations are anything new to anyone who has taken the Challenge.
1. The 3SquaresVT Challenge is understanding poverty what Scared Straight is to understanding doing time in prison. One gets a glimpse of the stress and difficulty but it is far from reality.
2. A person can make the numbers work but it takes planning, time and it helps to have cheerleaders pushing you onward. Folks living in a 3SquaresVT world have little free time to plan, to compare nutritional values, to buy in bulk and real life is certainly not the Spartan Beast complete with cheering sections.
3. Some things learned along the way do resonate: you just can't decide to have a scone and Latte for a mid-morning snack; decide to eat Sushi for lunch or go to a steakhouse for dinner. Life, with food and meals being the perfect metaphor, is prescribed. You live within the confines that are set for you. Step outside what is allowed, and trouble awaits.
So what does this mean for me? It has reinforced my belief that people don't choose to live on the sharp edge of poverty. It reminded me that the little luxuries that I take for granted, are big deals for other people. Most of all, it continually reminded me that children remain the ones that feel the impact of poverty the most. If parents spend the days worrying about how and what to feed their children, then when will they find the time for all the rest?