What If Groceries Took Up 50% of Your Income?

My family has a healthy food and grocery budget. I like to buy fresh produce and organic meat. I opt for low sugar snacks and cereal is expensive when my 4-year-old wants two bowls for breakfast. Every week, I log on to my local grocer’s website and I create my digital list of regular items, add in the things I need to create the meals on my menu, schedule a pickup and then check out. For me, the $5 fee is worth the hours of time I saved from battling the crowds, navigating the lines, and overcoming last-minute impulse buys.

Even though we spend more on food than many other families, it still doesn’t even come close to half of our household income.

In developing nations all over the world, that is a stark reality. When you only earn $2 per day, buying decisions can mean life or death. Deciding which items to purchase and how much is a stressful transaction when you have to make a little go as far as you can. These families have to consider things that have never crossed my mind like, which of your children will you feed when you only have enough to feed one? Will you feed your child or send them to school? Does your family get food or water today? What other things will you have to sacrifice in order to buy what you need?

We wanted to think about these questions in an American context, so we did some math.

How did you get those high food prices?

This World Food Day, Food for the Hungry wanted to know what it would look like for an American family to spend the same percentage of their income on groceries as those in the developing world. We noted the price of common grocery items in The Philippines and compared that item to the local average household income. Then we calculated the same percentage of the average American household income to determine the comparable price here in the U.S. This left us with some context for skyrocketing food choices and gave us a sense of what we’d buy and what we’d choose to do without if our groceries were this much compared to our income.

We made tags and hung them up in a local grocery store.

If food prices were this high at your neighborhood grocery store, how would that change the way you live, what you buy, and who would you feed first? 

Join the conversation at #zerohunger and learn more about how you can help.