A Cookbook to Help Food Stamp Recipients Cook Cheaply Becomes a Massive Viral Hit

Source: National Geographic/The Plate
…The 40 million people in families that receive food stamps—technically, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — get an average $133 per month for food.
That’s about $4 per day, for three meals, for a family, though it’s less than most of us spend by ourselves for a morning coffee. To eat well on that tiny amount, you have to be canny and creative. Most of all, though, you have to know how to cook…thriftily, from dried beans and root vegetables and the bony bits of meat…
Thank the food gods, then, for Leanne Brown, a 29-year-old Canadian who began as a political activist, moved to New York City to study food policy, volunteered in food-access programs, and learned from the people she was helping what they needed and wanted to know about how to cook and eat well.
Her response was a cookbook, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. It began as a free PDF with a CC license. Then it got so popular — the 200,000 downloads broke her site several times — that she perceived an opportunity: If people were willing to buy the book, she could use the proceeds to fund printed copies for people with limited computer access. Thus was born Good and Cheap’s Kickstarter campaign. It…ended two weeks ago having earned almost $145,000 from 5,636 backers: enough to fund 6,000 free copies and another 25,000 that nonprofits can buy at a super-discounted $4. So far, 450 nonprofits have asked.
The genius of Good and Cheap is that it isn’t just “recipes for food-stamp users,” what Brown described with a wince…The original PDF, and no doubt the book too (coming later this year)…contains healthy but tasty-sounding recipes—shrimp and grits, vegetable jambalaya, smoky-spicy cauliflower, coffee cake—presented in a warm, you-can-do-this tone.
In the book’s introduction she speaks to that hoped-for audience candidly and kindly.
“There are thousands of barriers that can keep us from eating in a way that nourishes our bodies and satisfies our tastes,” she writes. “Money just needn’t be one of them… Cooking on a limited budget is not easy, and there are times when a tough week can turn eating into a chore. I hope the recipes and techniques in this book help make those times rare and tough choices a little more bearable.”
You can still buy Good And Cheap, and support Brown’s mission to get the book out to people who need it, via her website. You can tip her for the pdf ($5); buy a copy just for yourself ($20); buy one and give one or two away ($25 and $29); or give multiples: $100 gets one for you and 10 donations.
Brown—who…is aiming for an August manuscript deadline and publication by the end of the year. After that, she hopes to start telling the stories of the groups and food pantries where her cookbooks went, and what people learned from them!

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