Food for a Day, by Matt Cooper

If you have a family you likely know the reality of living on a budget.  You know how much you spend on utilities, on gasoline, and how much you’ll spend on groceries for the month.  But have you ever figured out how much money it takes to feed yourself or each of your children for one day?

Here in Back2Back’s Hope Program, we too of course live on a budget.  As teen home parents of the James House my wife, Julie, and I have the challenging job of feeding eight teenage boys.  With the budget we’re allotted each month, we can spend about $4 (US) a day on each of our boys for their food.  If you have teenage boys…you know THEY CAN EAT, and you know that $4 suddenly doesn’t sound like very much money.  Our boys like to eat, and they like to eat a lot, but with as much as they enjoy eating, it certainly does not mean that they are always grateful for what we have to eat, nor do they always appreciate the value of what it is they’re consuming.

Recently, after a series of days filled with what I felt to be insensitive comments about what there was to eat and drink in the house, and after a general disrespect for some of our kitchen rules I decided it was time for a lesson.

So, just before bedtime I set all eight boys down for a few quick comments about respect for authority, and gratefulness for what we have – and then I handed them each $4.  I explained that they could use any of their personal money they wanted, but that for the next 24 hours this was all we were contributing towards their food.  I graciously gave them the option of eating at school, at local street vendors, at 7-Eleven, or wherever they pleased – but if they wanted to eat the food in our house they would have to “buy it” from us.  The looks on their faces were priceless – they all immediately “got it”.  I almost think I could have stopped the lesson right there, and had them hand their money back in…but I think they would have missed a large part of the lesson.  The next 24 hours were no doubt long for them as they had to think about budgeting, and stretching their $4 to make it last all the way through dinner – but I honestly think the larger lesson was on gratefulness and appreciation.  A lesson I hope and pray they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Marcos with his $4 for the day

Marcos with his $4 for the day

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One Response to “Food for a Day, by Matt Cooper”

  1. Bruce Eric Anderson Says:

    This is a great exercise no matter where you live and one that would certainly resonate with our kids. Of course, we’d have to look at how much we spend each day to feed ourselves and our kids, and consider how we could shave that back considerably.

    Thanks for sharing a story from what you and Julie are doing there working with the teens. We appreciate it and pray for you and B2B often.

    Bruce Eric Anderson, Hill Country Bible Church, Austin

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