Ice Cream Offsets

Several months ago, in a post about how Christians should use their blessings to bless others, I mentioned that Americans spend $20 billion each year on ice cream, which is enough money to provide everyone in the world with food and clean water for a year.

That statistic blew me away when I first heard it, and after I referenced it in a sermon (shortly before I included it in the blog post), it became particularly convicting to me—I just couldn’t get over the amount of good that could be done if the collective money we threw away on ice cream could be channeled into helping others.

After being bothered about it for a while, I came up with the idea of “Ice Cream Offsets”. Based loosely on the (somewhat humorous) notion of carbon offsets, Caroline and I decided that we would scrupulously keep track of the amount of money we spent on ice cream for the remainder of the year, and then donate that same amount to an organization dedicated to fighting hunger.

Certainly I realize that this is not the most efficient way to combat world hunger—after all, I could just cut out ice cream altogether and donate even more money. However, I felt like this was a tangible way for us to take part in the solution of a problem, and theoretically, if every American did the same, world hunger would cease to be an issue (besides, we like to eat ice cream!).

So, here are our ice cream expenditures since late March of 2011, when I began to keep track (You’ll notice that Caroline and I are particular fans of Cold Stone Creamery):
  • Shake at Steak n’ Shake (3/27)—$3.00
  • Maggie Moos (5/14)—$4.50
  • Klondike bars from Wal-Mart (Uncertain date)—$3.00
  • Cold Stone Creamery (Uncertain date)—$9.32
  • Cold Stone (7/1)—$9.32
  • Cold Stone (7/14)—$9.44
  • Cold Stone (7/31)—$9.32
  • Cookies and Cream from Wal-Mart (8/23)—$2.00
  • Andy’s (9/4)—$6.00
  • Cold Stone (9/9)—$9.32
  • Cold Stone (12/31)—$9.32
  • Total for the year—$74.54
To “offset” the amount of money we spent on ice cream in 2011, we made a $75 donation to Lifebread, which is a neat organization that helps to fight hunger and poverty in Africa in a unique way, while also spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

One final note: the intention of this post wasn’t to make you think how generous we are for doing this—a $75 donation didn’t require a great sacrifice from us and we don’t deserve any praise for making it. However, as Christians, I believe we are to look for ways to give more and more of ourselves all the time (including our time, our efforts, and our money), and this was one way for us to do this. Maybe it will encourage someone else to do something similar.


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