Feast with no flash?
Yule dinner still possible
Say you are the matriarch or patriarch of a low income household of five people. It’s you, your three kids, one of your parents, and your minimum-wage job holding up the roof.
What if you wanted a Christmas dinner?
Bills may have bled a lot from you, but a Christmas dinner together is something priceless. For the worth of whatever luxuries you have given up to survive this situation — and poverty can feel like survival sometimes — there has to be some way this can work.
There are a few ways you could do this.
If your parent is over 60, he or she is eligible for food commodities. That puts meals on the table routinely, which lightens your burden a little. Your budget can stand Christmas dinner trappings when dozens of other meals aren’t weighing on it.
But what if your household has no elderly persons and thus no one eligible for food commodities?
Then you have the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, also known as “food stamps.” You can shop for fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, grains, and even snack foods and pay for them all with a card from the government.
Many stores in Marion County take SNAP. That includes chain stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar and local grocers like Carlsons’, Dale’s, and Peabody Market. You could find a turkey and a freshly-baked pie.
But what if you are too close to overextending your SNAP use for the month? Or what if you have only recently entered this situation, and Christmas hits during the 7 to 30 days it takes for the government to register you with SNAP?
Food banks can help.
Many churches in the area have their own food pantries. There is also Marion County Food Bank, which receives food from the government and by donation.
The food bank splits what it receives into balanced bags, which are given away proportional to the size of household if you pull up to the door. You need only to prove that you live in Marion County by showing something like a bill with your address and to fill out a form at the door.
The county food bank adds the element of chance, however. It supplies whatever it has in stock — whether that’s turkey, ham, or occasional donated venison. You can’t come inside to personally choose because of COVID-19 restrictions.
What if you wanted a guaranteed traditional dinner? Or you already have been to the food bank within two weeks? Or your workday swallows whatever time you have to cook?
Senior centers around Marion County are closed for Christmas and Christmas Eve, but they are offering special meals on Thursday — turkey in Marion, pork roast in Hillsboro, and a brunch in Peabody.
There are a few more options if you drive to a larger city, where food banks including the Lord’s Diner are open Christmas day.
Dinner is saved by the generosity of the community, and you can still make a memory with your family of this Christmas.