Rachel Bolden-Kramer knows what it's like to fight. Despite being the first of her family to go to university (she graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Social Studies and in Spanish), she was quick to find work in the middle of the financial crisis and of the subsequent Great Recession. A physical injury inspired her to learn yoga and other natural healing practices, which led her to open a yoga center in New York. But she still relied on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table.
Even with a fixed and limited budget, Bolden-Kramer stretched every dollar to eat the most nutritious foods possible. She learned to navigate the challenges of the social care system and used her organizational and supportive skills to teach workshops on radical healing, living in a way to minimize inflammation and disease, commissioned by the & # 39; New York Housing Authority. The birth of her daughter took her home to San Francisco, but that did not stop her teaching. In 2017, Bolden-Kramer raised more than $ 27,000 on Kickstarter to publish his first cookbook, My cookbook.
KM: who helped you along the way?
RBK: I had a wonderful free therapist at the prenatal homeless program. You do not have to be homeless, but it is available if you are low income. He lifted a whole weight from me. It also became much easier after having a stable place to stay in San Francisco, where I grew up.
KM: What were the challenges you had to face while living on SNAP?
RBK: My biggest challenge with eating on a budget has always been time. When the budget is low, it means that you are probably facing a lot of responsibilities, a reason why I hate the rhetoric about the poor who are entitled to food stamps. You have heard, "People just need to find a job" or "work more". Or that are lazy. There's something like social fraud, but most people are people like me. Usually it is the people who treat or provide assistance to others, such as children and the elderly. I took care of my mother with Alzheimer's and a child, and managing the needs of all three was a full-time job. We always had a surplus of food from the programs when my daughter was very young. But it is challenging to prepare food when you are exhausted by breastfeeding and cleaning and you can barely do something for yourself. The impulse is to take a quick solution.
KM: what kind of food do you turn to?
RBK: I learned to follow my diet of donuts and coffee in the book. We got free vegan donuts from a food pantry and it was always easier to eat than to sip together a nice organic salad (even for free from the pantry). But I've learned to prepare more nutritious foods in advance so that it's readily available when I need comfort, like vegetables and minced fruit.
KM: How do you manage stress and care of yourself?
RBK: I practice meditation and focus on forgiveness and compassion. And while this is useful, I know that I need a lot of physical comfort to treat my regular stress-time gym and spa visits. I do yoga every day since I am an experienced teacher, but I also have to attend classes to get a little encouragement. I work on creating a balance between work and life by setting boundaries and exchanging childhood time with my friends so we can all take a break.
KM: What aspect does that support system have?
RBK: The funny thing is that a lot of my community comes from the recipe book. Before the book was finished, I organized many projects to involve my community and get their contribution. I have hosted dinners with other single mothers and other doulas. We talked about discoveries, breakdowns, objectives and I proposed their ideas for the cabbage salad. He strengthened my tribe.
KM: What are the challenges you have witnessed that others face on SNAP?
RBK: It's really a negligible experience for many people and it takes a lot of time. I remember getting up early with my friends to get to the food stamps office before the line got bad. Otherwise you would be there all day. People are discouraged by the long waits, the sometimes not very helpful attitude of the workers and the numerous needs to keep their cases of assistance open.
KM: What are some things that parents wanted to know?
RBK: One thing that the most stressed parents should know is that there are agencies that can handle the whole case of assistance without you having to leave your home. I used the food bank to do this for my daughter and I when we first came for a family.
KM: How does your work currently help others?
RBK: Besides managing a kindergarten and a nursery school, I am a birthplace. I was at a beautiful birth the day I discovered that I reached my Kickstarter goal. The client was someone who could not afford a doula, but I belong to a small collective that raises money to provide these services to pro bono people. At the postpartum visit for this family, they asked what to eat to make a good mother's milk and recover from birth. I immediately connected them with a local CSA delivery that accepts food stamps. Now they receive the products at their home weekly.
Today, Bolden-Kramer lives in San Francisco with his daughter and mother. He owns and runs a nursery school dedicated to teaching healthy habits for future generations and teaches current and future parents how to incorporate nutritious foods into their daily lives. My cookbook it's his first cookbook.