Thursday, January 27, 2011

We Are Taking The Food Stamp Challenge

 My oldest daughter and I are in the midst of The Food Stamp Challenge, hosted by Maryland Hunger Solutions.  The challenge is to eat for one week with the average food supplemental benefit allotted by the state of Maryland...$30 per person.

Dinner #1 Broiled Chicken with
rice and frozen veggies.  My daughter was sent to
school with leftovers as her luch
(which is common practice for us)

Sunday afternoon I went to the market.  I had a plan, I was optimistic, I was ready to begin The Food Stamp Challenge.  This lasted about 15 seconds into my shopping excursion.  I started in the produce section (where I always begin my shopping) and quickly realized that fresh produce is dang expensive!  In my pretty little, perfect plan I planned to spread out my purchases; $15 for meat, $5 for produce, $10 for everything else.  Yeah, that plan went quickly out the window.  One hour I spent in the market, an all time record in my books, going back and forth from isle to isle, putting things back, replacing the name brand products with generic and still I left that day with one bag, just one.

Dinner # 2 Chicken and rice soup
made from the left overs of the night

Now, when I first signed on to this challenge I was under the impression (I've never been good at reading instructions) that the $30 was for our entire family.  When I received the email on Monday stating it was $30 per person I was ecstatic.  I mean, screamed out of my dads house to the market.  Again I had a plan and again I was optimistic, after all an extra thirty dollars?  That was HUGE!  Once again I left the market disappointed.  This time, even though I had bought all staple supplies, the one bag I left with wasn't even full.

Dinner # 3 Meatloaf with frozen
green beans and rice. 
For the record, making meatloaf
without eggs really, really stinks!
 You may be thinking, "That's not so bad."  And I'll be honest, when I looked at the food I had to work with I didn't think so either.  But here we are on Day 5 and all the food has been cooked and we are looking at leftovers (sparse leftovers at that) for the remainder of the week. Here's hoping they will last. And for the record, I certainly won't starve my child should we completely run out of food ( a choice I'm feeling very fortunately to have).

Dinner #4 Chili
Used the remaining ground beef, meatloaf,
beans and tomato sauce.  This will be the
last dinner I cook as we are now out of food. 
Hoping the leftovers hold out. 
I must commend my daughter for sticking with it.  She's a real trooper and I admire everything she has done this week.  We were both at each other's throats today, bickering over stupid little things like "You spilled water on my shoe!".  We're both exhausted and hungry.  I killed me to hear her say (repeatedly) "Mommy, I'm Hungry"  and have to tell her "Sorry kiddo, if we eat now we won't have enough food for dinner." I promised her a feast of Tacos and Ice Cream Sundaes next week for all she's been through...then felt guilty because people living on Food Stamps never get that option.

How much did I spend for me and my daughter? $59.50
(and don't think I wasn't trying to find something for 50 cents all week)

What we got for our money:
  • 4.75 lbs. Ground Beef on sale at almost 50% off (75% lean...wicked healthy, I know)
  • 4.45 lbs. Roaster Chicken
  • 3 Cans of Beans
  • 1 Box of Pasta
  • Small Bag of Long Grain Rice
  • 1 Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Small Container of Grated Cheese
  • 1 Packaged Cheese Slices
  • 1 Large Bag Frozen of Mixed Veggies
  • 1 Large Bag Frozen Green Beans
  • 1 Jar Peanut Butter
  • 1 Jar Jelly
  • 1 Loaf Bread
  • 5 Bananas
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Garlic (are they called heads of garlic?)
  • 1 Box of generic Cheerios (which weren't half bad)
  • 1 Small container of Oatmeal
  • 1 Jar Applesauce
  • 1 LB. Coffee (the only reason I pulled this off is because it was on sale for $3.99)
  • 1 Gallon Milk
  • 1 Apple (a surprise for my sad is that)

What we put back:
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Frozen Broccoli
  • Tomato Paste
  • Pork
  • The Bigger Roaster Chicken
  • Chicken Broth

What We Replaced For Generic Brands:
Everything that came with a label...with the exception of the beans (Goya was on sale)

Looking back, things I wouldn't have bought:
  • Generic grated cheese ~ It's just plain gross! Save your 89 cents and buy a piece of fruit
  • The $1 Box of cereal ~ Cheap yes, yummy yes, but this "breakfast for the week" lasted less than half a week
  • The Third can of beans ~ Yummy yes, but with the 67 cents I could have bought a second apple  


 About Maryland Hugner Solutions

"The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) established Maryland Hunger Solutions (MDHS) as a project to fight hunger and improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of children and families in Maryland. The initiative was launched in the fall of 2007 and is modeled on the successful D.C. Hunger Solutions (DCHS) Initiative that began in 2002."

Find out more about Maryland Hunger Solutions on their main site

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cookies For A Cause: Our No Kid Hungry Line Of Cookies

Year round, Share Our Strength works to provide children with nutritious food where they live, learn and play. They do this by working with states to incorporate functional and assessable feeding programs to children at risk of hunger, through the 5 campaigns they host; Great American Bake Sale, Great American Dine Out, Taste of the Nation, A Tasteful Pursuit and Cooking Matters (formally Operation Frontline) and with the new No Kid Hungry campaign.

Why all this information you ask? We are hoping to accomplish something very simple; Raise awareness of an enormous problem in our country...child hunger. Currently there are over 10 million children that are at risk of hunger in America, nearly 1-5. One of the biggest problems is, many families at risk simply do not know of available feeding programs already available in their communities. Share Our Strength works to find new ways to not only create feeding programs, but to ensure they are publicized and assessable to those that really need them.

Please Help Us To Help Make A Difference!


No Kid Hungry Cookies
For $1.00 you can add a No Kid Hungry cookie to your next order and feel good knowing that your dollar (yes all of it) will help in the fight against childhood hunger in America.
We are proud to be offering these cookies with or without an additional order all year long!
How Far Can A Dollar Go?  With one dollar Share Our Strength can help connect a child with 10 meals!


No Kid Hungry Cookie BoxesAt $4.00 these wonderful kraft boxes are the perfect gift to let friends and family know you to are helping to fight childhood hunger in America!

Each box comes with three No Kid Hungry cookies and offer a diplay window to show off the No Kid Hungry mission.


Share Our Strength Cookie Pops
For $2.00 you can add a Share Our Strength Cookie Pop to your order.  Great for favors at a child's birthday party or your next event.
These cookie pops are our signature sugar cookie rolled and pressed with Share Our Strength, the name of our nations leading organization committed to ending childhood hunger in America.


To Order:
Please email us at
or Call


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BJs Taste Of The Town (Salem, NH)

I would like to extend my thanks to all who attended BJs Wholesale Club's Taste Of The Town this past Saturday.  We had a great time meeting and greeting with BJs members and were able to spread the word about our upcoming Great American Bake Sale season.  I was thrilled by how receptive people were to our plans for 2011 and how attentively everyone listened to me speak about Share Our Strength, No Kid Hungry and the fight to end childhood hunger in America. 


I hope those of you I had the chance to speak with will continue to follow along with our events specials and promotions!  For anyone I didn't have a chance to speak with, I welcome you to contact me via email or by phone to discuss our plans further...or keep up-to-date by following our blog of course :) 

I will say, my only disappointment of the day was that I didn't get one picture!  We had a great display and the No Kid Hungry cookie boxes (soon to be found as a part of our menu) looked fantastic.


On a surprising turn of events, I am proud to say the No Kid Hungry Cookies and No Kid Hungry cookie boxes were long gone before the end of the event!  It was never my intention to sell out, as I assumed the cookies and boxes would be considered more of a display with all the free samples we were offering.  I'll make a personal note to bring more for our next event. 


As you can imagine, we have our hands full over here and are always looking for volunteers.  If you are interested in joining the Cookie Central Team please do not hesitate to contact me!  There are positions open for all age groups, especially for our bake sale finale the Great American Golf Tournament.

So the day in it's entirety was a smashing success!  Thank you again to everyone who visited our table.  I look forward to seeing many of you again at one of our bake.

All the best and thank you for reading,
Michele Gorham :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Look At Cookie Central's 2011 Great American Bake Sale

Great American Bake Sale season hasn't quite begun yet.  In fact, it doesn't start until March 1st!  But we over here at Cookie Central are planning and prepping for another fantastic season fundraising for Share Our Strength.  We already have a couple of definite plans, a few in the works and a whole slew of possibilities.  Please check out what we have on the drawing board and let us know what you think, if you have any good contacts that would help us on our way or suggestions to help us better this years campaign.  Thanks and have a great rest of your day! ~ Michele Gorham

Cookie Central is now offering these wonderful sugar cookies pressed with Share Our Strength's mission "No Kid Hungry"

For $1.00 you can add a No Kid Hungry cookie to your next order and feel good knowing that your dollar (yes all of it) will help in the
fight against childhood hunger in America. 

We are proud to be offering these cookies
with or without an additional order all year long!
How Far Can A Dollar Go?
With one dollar
Share Our Strength can help connect a child with 10 meals! 

The Salem Taste Of The Town

Date: Saturday, January 15th
 Time: 11:00am – 2:00pm
Location:BJ’s Wholesale Club
in Salem, NH.

Join Cookie Central at BJs Wholesale Club in Salem, NH for bite-sized samples off our menu! 

We will be promoting our upcoming 2011 Great American Bake Sale season and selling special cookies to raise money to help end childhood hunger in America.


A Great American Golf Tournament?

That's right folks!  We have in the works a golf tournament thanks to my wonderful husband who I'm not quite as mad at for playing so many rounds  any more.  We are just beginning the planning, but it looks to be a definite addition (as well as the kicker) to this years events!  We plan to have set dates, locations and the like ready for March 1st, with the scheduled event falling in September.  


A Possible New Sponsor!

Okay more definite than possible, we just haven't hashed out the details yet, but MerchantCircle is on board!  If you didn't already know, I am a Community Leader and Forum Moderator for this rapidly growing small business networking/marketing/social media site (I must be doing a good job).  I will be updating as the news comes in what kind of (and how big) of a part they will be playing in CC's 2011 GABS...but I have a feeling it's gonna be HUGE!


Online Events!

We are hoping for as much success online this year as we did last year and have planned out serveral campaigns that will run over the course of our 7 month (geeze, did I just tack on 3 more months from last year?) campaign.  To give a brief, and I really mean brief, overview; expect to see Dollar Days, Cookie Gift Boxes To End Child Hunger, Donate and Save, The Recruit Contest.  Curious as to what all these mean?  Follow the blog, read my tweets, fan me on Facebook, give me your first born!  What I really mean to say is connect with me, stay in touch and stay tuned for a very exciting online rollercoaster.


The Big Possibilities For 2011

Our wish list for this year is slightly longer than last year, but we are after all attempting to fill the 3 extra with No Kid Hungry fun and excitement.  To accomplish these events we will need help, maybe your help?  Mostly contacts, referrals and introductions, anything that will get our foot in the door.  If you have any reputation with the below we would be ever so grateful for your help!
*please & thank you*

  • Andover Days:  We are hoping to coordinate a few businesses to sell decorated No Kid Hungry star cookie pops during the days events.  All products, displays and promotional items will be provided by us (Cookie Central).  If you know an Andover shop owner that you think may be interested in participating please let me know!
  • Cookies & Meat: Okay maybe I have to work on that name a little, but the idea is pretty simple.  We are hoping to piggy back a bake sale event on either a wine tasting at the Vinyard (North Andover) or BBQ with The Meat House (same shop)....or BOTH!  If you have contacts at The Vinyard or The Meathouse I would forever be grateful for an introduction.
  • Heavn'ly Cookies:  Are you a St. Michael's parishioner?  Would you be willing to help us organize a bake sale through the church?  The hope is to host at least one event this year that is "All About The Kids".  Cookie & cupcake decorating tables, a magician, face painting...kid stuff!  I'm also working my husband to come down in his firefighter gear (maybe with a piece of apparatus?).

If you think you could help us out with any of the above please contact me!
Michele Gorham