Imagine that this is your family. Like other families in similar situations, yours will have to make difficult decisions about how to spend your money. Every month you have to make choices about how to meet all your financial responsibilities, including feeding your children. Currently your budget contains no room for luxuries, such as entertainment or a car.

Item Column #1 Column #2

Rent (2 bedroom apartment) $800.00

Phone $40.00

Gas, Water & Garbage $60.00

Groceries $380.00

Transportation (2 Bus Passes) $60.00


Medical Care   (addition to basic employer coverage) $60.00



Total Expenditures $1,400.00

Monthly Income $1,400.00

Balance $0.00

Situation 1: Your child gets sick. The doctor’s visit, the tests, and the medication costs are $300.00 more than what your employer paid health insurance will cover. How will you pay the medical bills?

Situation 2: You lose your job. The unemployment benefits, which begin one week after your last pay check arrives is only equal to two-thirds of your regular pay. Your total monthly income decreases by $400.00. How will you balance your budget?

Situation 3: You catch the flu and miss four days of work. Without paid sick leave, your income is reduced by $160.00. How will you make up for this shortfall in your budget?

Source: Dorosin, Geelan, Gordon, and Moore, Why is There Hunger in Our Community? (Oakland: Alameda County Community Food Bank, 1997). Used with permission.