Good news. When you sit down at the Thanksgiving dinner table next week, with a spread of oven-baked turkey, fluffy white mashed potatoes, and steaming gravy, your wallet will be a little less empty.
But don’t think you can start a new savings plan or put away money into a college fund for junior. Because according to a study by the American Farm Bureau Federation, you will be saving a bare 44 cents per person at the dinner table. All that turkey, butter, cranberries, potatoes – you get the picture – costs 44 cents per serving less than last year. Not a lot of pennies.
Of course, if you typically serve Thanksgiving meals to one thousand of your family and friends each year, then you would save $440. That’s not bad.
Our annual national day of thanks is all about eating and family gatherings. For those of us who are able to make ends meet, and have a place that we call home, Thanksgiving Day is a festive time.
I remember as a kid, traveling to my Grandparents’ home sitting in the living room watching television while the meal was being prepared. It seemed like that darn turkey took hours and hours before it was ready for consumption.
Every hour, my Grandmother would open the oven door, as if to tease her desperately hungry family clan with the wonderful smell, only to close that door after seeing if the bird was cooked just right. Then, at the end of the day, the turkey was ceremoniously set on the table for all to eat. With famished appetites, we probably finished eating within 30 minutes.
A stuffed bird no longer, but certainly stuffed stomachs.
Thanksgiving was a good day. And this year too, knowing that each person around the table costs 44 cents less than last year.
Unless, of course, you are one of the 47 million Americans who just a couple of weeks ago received cuts in their food stamp allocations. Those millionaire congressional representatives allowed cuts in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that basically gutted an impoverished family’s ability to eat.
Food assistance reductions mean that the food budget of a family of four is cut $36 per month. That dollar amount, alone, does not seem significant for those of us who spend that much money on Starbucks coffee alone. But for those people who struggle to find enough money for food for their children, that amount is significant.
Compare this to a mere 44 cents savings on the cost of a Thanksgiving meal, and if I were one of those 47 million hungry Americans I may just skip cooking that Thanksgiving meal. A 44 cents savings does not help rectify the reduction in food assistance.
I’m guessing more and more hungry families will head to the food pantries and soup kitchens in hopes of a free Thanksgiving meal.
Maybe everyone who can afford to serve a Thanksgiving meal, knowing that they are saving 44 cents per person, should donate that savings to a soup kitchen or homeless program. That won’t solve the food assistance crisis, but it would at least give our hungry American families a decent Thanksgiving meal this year.