2010 Proof in the Pudding Contest
2nd Place Winners
From rear-left, clockwise:  Sharnell Williams (winner), Nancy Petcoff,  Angie Spears, and Christine Robinson (winner)
about the  CASEY project


The Casey project is a Kansas City grassroots effort to develop and implement a community wide empowerment program to encourage individuals, families and households to eat healthy on a budget.

The Casey community includes everyone who wishes to eat healthy within or near their budget constraints, whether it’s a very low budget, a Cadillac budget, or somewhere in between.

Healthy eating is a part of a healthy lifestyle and brings with it the likelihood of a longer life with fewer incidents of illness and disease. While the hope is that everyone can benefit from the Casey project, the reality is that as financial constraints tighten there are fewer and fewer affordable options. In turn, the fewer options require smarter and smarter food choices when buying food for oneself or one’s household.

How the Casey project started:

Casey was born in 2008 when Marianne Ronan of the Kansas City Chronic Disease Coalition (KC-CDC)
and Maria Boudreaux, Dietitian, were
planning food kits in anticipation of a
project that would distribute the kits in
the Kansas City areas.

The idea was to include $75 worth of
assorted foods in each kit.

As planning progressed, greater
expectations were attached to the
project: (1) there had to be enough food
for a week; (2) it had to include enough
food for a family of three; and (3) the
hypothetical intended recipient family
would include a single parent and two
school-age children.

At some point someone gave the name
"Casey" to the parent of the hypothetical family and the goal matured into buying all the food needed so Casey could feed her (or his) family healthfully for a full week for $75 worth of groceries purchased at nearby grocery stores. Also, the food kit would serve as an example of a healthy diet as represented by the Food Guide Pyramid.

It was done! By careful planning, trial and error, and repeated trips to different supermarkets, it was demonstrated that Casey and her two children could be fed for $75 for a week and as suggested by the Food Guide Pyramid.

With only $75 in pocket there was no buying ahead or bulk quantities. Between repeated shopping trips food prices went up and down, and varied from one store to the other. What looked affordable on one visit wasn't so affordable a few weeks later or at a different store.

At some point it became clear that if this was so challenging for the "experts", just imagine the challenge for a real Casey? In reality this was a comparable challenge to shopping with just food stamps, or even less.  Imagine the difficulty of hitting a $35 or $25 per week budget target with little or even no financial resources beyond the $25 in one's pocket? Add to that the complexity of transportation uncertainties; an inconvenient job schedule; irregular income; and children; and, without extended family or even primary family support.

The original project for the food kits was never funded and the food-kits were never completed. But instead, the Casey project was born!

Initial efforts:

Attempts were made to find educational resources that could be used to give "Casey" a starting point for meeting the challenge of feeding herself and her family under tight budget constraints.

There are hundreds of resources covering budgeting possibilities such as meals-for-pennies, thrifty shopping tips, or low cost menus, but otherwise very little comprehensive empowerment strategies for meeting the difficult challenge of eating healthy on a budget. Except for traditional Home Economics classes at school, there is little guidance on how to make ends meet for the "Caseys" that are feeding themselves and their families with little money.

Yes, it is cheaper to bake your own bread. And yes, money can be saved by growing a garden, shopping in bulk, and clipping coupons. But in some cases could not the time be better invested in gaining a GED, or going to college?

How does one even know if they can afford a $1.49 cantaloupe, a $3.25 gallon of milk, or a $1.69 loaf of bread considering that prices for other food items may be unknown? How does a "Casey" adjust for a 30 cents per gallon increas in milk prices? Does she make up for the price change by buying less fruit or vegetables, or less milk? 

In America there is an abundance of very cheap "junk" food, so if any shopper cannot pay for all the foods needed to enjoy a healthy diet it is easy to take a shortcut by simply buying inexpensive unhealthy foods.

Here in America, one can easily buy 2,000 calories worth of discount soda-pop and snacks for less than $2. That means that an adult can not only meet their calorie needs, but actually gain weight for less than $14 per week. It is very unlikely that anyone will notice that they may also be malnourished.

The Casey project launched:

The goal of the Casey
project was to find and
develop resources that
would give "Caseys", or
anyone, a starting point
for understanding how
they can eat healthy on
a budget. The goal was
to encourage and support
this continuing challenge
so that families could
eat halthfully on any

Since project conception, "how to" methodology and supporting resources have been deveopled and continue to be developed and updated.  Pilot programs with real "Caseys" provided further insights into the obstacles and helped craft the guides and resources. Workshops and formal presentations advanced the project, and a Casey community has grown around the Casey project.

The initial phases of the Casey program was facilitated by the Kansas City Chronic Disease Coalition and funded in part by the Kansas City Health Care Foundation. These initial phases were conducted at the Chouteau Court and Guinotte Manor communities.

Coalition members,
including the Housing
Authority of Kansas City,
MO, and the Kansas City
Missouri Health
Department facilitated
the program with
contributions of time,
encouragement and
resources. The Garrison
Community Center of the Kansas City Department of Parks and Recreations provided use of their building and facilities for the most recent phases of the program.

The Casey project advances:

The program is presently transitioning into the greater Kansas City community, and also opening its resources via the internet to all who may be interested in the subject of Eating Healthy on a Budget.

This transition phase includes digging deeper roots into the Northeast Kansas City communities and the establishment of a permanent "home" with appropriate classroom and workshop facilities to further improve the efficiency of the presentations. Enhanced audio-visual resources and a kitchen classroom will permit role play shopping and preparation exercises. Storage, childcare, and casual meeting facilities will better open the Casey project to the community at large.

The Casey project is also establishing a virtual community via the internet where there are no city limits or state lines.

So, who is Casey?

Casey is anyone looking for a starting place for feeding themselves or their families healthfully on a budget. Casey is anyone wanting to understand the relationship between available financial resources and healthy eating. Casey is anyone who is seeking support or who may wish to contribute to the lifelong adventure and challenge of feeding themselves and their families as healthfully as possible within their available financial resources.

And, who are we?

We are the Casey Project team. We helped conceive, develop and implement the Casey program. In one way or another all the wonderful people listed below played a valuable role in advancing the Casey project.

Casey Project development team:

    Maria Boudreaux, RD
    Nancy Petcoff, nutritionist
    John Boudreaux, program coordinator
    Ginger Burns, recipe coordinator

Casey Team at Guinotte Manor:

    Angie Spears
    Martha Allen (Mama Allen)
    Tanya Redmon
    Marietta, Caldwell
    Linda Walker

Casey Team at Choteau Courts:

   Deborah White (Housing Authority of KC, Mo)
    Sara Smith

Special thanks to the many, many facilitators who helped get the project off the ground, including:

    Marianne Ronan (KC-CDC)
    Ella Tolbert (KC-CDC)
    Dr. Christine Riederer. PHD (KC Health Department)
    Brian Dennis (KC Parks & Rec)
Geraldine Shannon (KC Parks & Rec)
    Rhonda Holman (Health Care Foundation of Gr KC)
    Jane Mosley (Health Care Foundation of Gr KC)
    Deborah White (HAKC)

To contact the  Casey Project
please write or call:

The Casey Project
Maria L. Boudreaux and Associates
PO Box 7272
Overland Park, KS 66207

Telephone   (913) 381-7803
Fax (913) 648-7803

e-mail: Casey@GetAHealthyGrip.Org

Would your organization like to soponsor or host a Get a Healthy Grip on Your Food Budget presentation or program?

Single-session and multi-session programs are available. Please contact us at the above numbers to discuss the feasibility and "fit" for your organization or intended audience. 
Copyright © 2010, Maria L Boudreaux and Associates