Tuesday, November 16, 2010

KELLY: Time, Money and Quality

Remember the old business adage: “Time, Money and Quality … pick two”? I’ve been thinking about that adage this week and seeing if it applies at all to my SNAP Challenge experience. It shockingly applies well: folks on assistance get all three, and so do our clients at Open Arms, but maybe not in the way you’d expect.

See, if I were a single parent on SNAP assistance, I most likely would be working multiple jobs to support my children (money for daycare, rent, utilities, etc.), I’d likely be transporting myself and kids via public transit, and when I was not working, my odd-hours free time would be spent riding the bus, picking up kids, cutting coupons, figuring out how my budget will stretch till payday, and doing things like … grocery shopping.

And grocery shopping is spent buying solely upon price. It’s what Mike experienced on Sunday trying to get our meals together for the week. Subconsciously he reasoned over and over, “I have X number of dollars to go X number of days. Let’s get our stomach as full as we can.” He and Amy watched these choices play out over and over with fellow grocery shoppers.

So I go back to, Time, Money and Quality. People on assistance get to pick all three: I don’t have time, I don’t have money, and so I don’t get quality.

And even though it’s tough, that scenario is manageable if you’re healthy. Now go back through the last two paragraphs and include the struggle of managing a life-threatening illness. Take your pick: HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, MS … it doesn’t matter which one; they still give you no time, no money and no quality, just to a larger degree. A life-threatening degree.

About then, I started thinking about how Open Arms fits into that equation. We prepare and deliver, free meals to people living with life-threatening disease. Time and Money … check! We also make fresh nutritious meals, many menus are organic and all are made from scratch. Quality … check! So we can provide all three, AND in the way you’d expect.

Don’t get me wrong, it still is a struggle to be on assistance and to be living with a chronic disease, help from Open Arms doesn't solve that struggle. But I’m hopeful that Open Arms can give a little breathing room just where they need it.

So when you are thinking about where to put your money today during the GiveMN “Give to the Max Day” (I know you have at least 20 emails from 20 different causes), think about which cause might provide three out of three. I’m hopeful that Open Arms will make it to the top of the pile, and that you’ll be inclined to donate the amount of money that a family of three lives on during a week while on SNAP: $59.59.

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