Posted on 06/25/2010 @ 03:12 PM
On Friday morning we participated in the Telem program, Making Choices. We broke up into 8 groups; four went to mainstream grocery stores and four went to corner stores or conveniences stores. Each group was given a budget of $100 to shop for a week's worth of food for a family of four (2 parents and 2 children). As the groups walked up and down the aisles there were more than a few eye-opening moments and conversation starters.
- Does it make more sense to spend more for a big purchase that might last longer or think of the immediate short-term need?
Teens had to consider the time, space and transportation abilities of their families when choosing between regular and supersized items at their stores.
- What items have to get cut; is it fresh vegetables or frozen?
The teens realized that on a limited budget and with limited access they would often not be able to get the freshest of ingredients at all times.
- Where did they have to cut back on the shopping?
Many of the teen groups realized at the end of the shopping simulation that their carts had no "extras". There were no snacks, cookies or desserts! They had to make the decision to provide as much healthful food as possible before getting the typical fun food.
- What is the cost of convenience?
The teens who shopped in the corner stores and convenience markets realized the high cost of convenience. By comparing prices with their peers who shopped in supermarkets they learned that while they could both find cut fruit in the store the size would be much smaller and the price much higher in the convenience stores.
This realization lead the teens to then consider choice. It suddenly became clear the disparity in access that exists in food deserts and why someone would choose a fast food meal for less than $3, than a small lunch sized salad for $7 (*real pricing).
- Would their budget allow for Shabbat?
When shopping the question came up more than once, if this family observes the Sabbath, how will they afford it? Many groups made substitutes to be able to afford to maintain this tradition, like choosing grape juice instead of wine.
- How does shopping with a budget affect the luxury of choice?
For many of the teens they had never considered shopping with a "budget". They acknowledged that often when they grocery shop on their own or with a parent they can grab most any item off the shelf and toss it in the cart, just because. When shopping on a budget the teens realized that the budget forced them to consider their time constraints (it takes much longer to shop when you're price checking), their meal schedule, and how to make the most out of the situation.