September 21st, 2011
01:00 PM ET
Sheila Steffen is a producer for CNN. Tune in to American Morning this week for special reporting on hunger in America, and check back with Eatocracy to see how she does on her food stamp challenge.
That is the reality for the more than 40 million Americans who rely on food stamps. According to the Food Research and Action Center the average food stamp allotment is just $30 per week.
I began thinking about taking a food stamp challenge earlier this month when I met several women who we profiled on hunger for two CNN stories (which will be posted on this site later in the week). These women had to make tough choices between paying bills and buying food. Often they skipped meals so their children could eat. Often the amount of food stamps they received was not enough.
Living on a food stamp budget for just one week won’t begin to put me in these women’s shoes or come close to the struggles that millions of low-income families face every day; week in and week out, month after month. But I do expect to gain a new perspective and a better understanding.
– September 19-25
I already feel the challenge just by the awareness of how much I have (or don’t have) to spend on food for an entire week. There can be no leeway. No impulse buying. No visits to Starbucks, or the vending machine at work for an afternoon snack, and certainly no dinners out or glass of wine in the evenings.
On the first day I go to the grocery store (Fairway) and try to put fruits and vegetables in my cart - things I normally eat a lot of. I grab a bag of 12 apples that at $1.99 I think is a good deal. I also take some broccoli, a container of tomatoes and a bag of 4 peppers which I agonize over and later regret buying. That’s already close to 1/3 of my entire budget!
I reluctantly grab a small bunch of loose spinach but realize the salads I normally bring and eat at work are not going to be possible and if I don’t change my strategy I’m not going to have enough food or the right food and will end up hungry.
Fish and meat are out of the question so I scan the chicken and pick up two breasts for $4.62 though I know I should probably select the package of chicken parts. I also grab a box of pasta, a loaf of bread (on special but still a whopping $2.99!) and peanut butter and jelly. Cost: $20.16
With my remaining $10 I head to another grocery store (C-Town) determined to do better; ignore brands and nutritional content and look for the cheapest food that will be filling. I get a bag of dry black beans and a bag of rice figuring that will be a meal for several days.
I also grab a box of Farina; it's like Cream of Wheat but cheaper, and I can't afford oatmeal. Coffee is something I don’t want to do without, especially if my energy level becomes low so I choose a small brick of Café Bustelo espresso for $2.86 and forego the milk.
Lastly, I find cans of tuna on sale! For $.99 I grab two that are packed in water and feel really good about that choice. Still, I leave the store feeling less than satisfied and walk home questioning my purchases. I feel totally constricted; not free to eat the way I want or buy what I want. I cannot afford that freedom.
I get home and realize I’m hungry. No need to ask myself what I feel like eating. It will be Farina for breakfast – all week long.
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Wow...OMG. This makes me feel so grateful that when I was growing up with my mother and every friday in a month or two we had salmon for those nights. It's really sad that looking at this article makes me realize how painful it is to survive only on forty dollars or less a week. I can't even do that despite the fact I work for the military. I give props to the people who are more grateful than I was before I decided to grow up and join the Navy.
Wow. I seriously spend around $20 per day, average. I would be miserable. Especially when training or doing any kind of endurance work outs.
I feed my family of 4 (soon to 5) on a $70 a week budget. I think if I was only feeding myself, I could definitely make $30 work. I use coupons, shop carefully, don't buy pre-made food, and plan my menus carefully so that I can use leftovers to make another meal. It's common sense. It can be done.
Being pro-life, I love it you're having a baby. Congrats!
Personally, I myself can live very nicely on $60 a week maximum if I don't go hog-wild and impulse buy.
Very Christian of you. I'm pretty sure Christ said "F66k the poor" too. Grow a conscience.
er, that was supposed to be a reply to some j@ck@ss whose post has since been deleted. "Nevermind...."
I am able to consistently feed a family of 3 (2 adults and 1 child) on $40/wk. We always have left overs and we're never hungry. We don't even really eat that unhealthy at all.
Maybe if most of us weren't raised as spoiled brats often receiving instant gratification in many forms (including ready-to-eat meals and fast food) more of us would be better equipped to stretch our grocery dollars further. The sky and our imaginations are the real limit.
Details on what and how you buy and eat would be much appreciated.
Tom, can't give you too much detail in a short post, most Americans eat too much meat. Cut your meat servings to 3-5 oz. Eat a hot breakfast cereal in bulk boxes, not expensive envelopes. Cook a pot of beans-soak them over night, drain and cook in enough water to cover with a three of so chicken bouillon cubes and serve with homemade cornbread and diced onions. The next day make a batch of rice with bouillon cubes to flavor and have beans and rice with left over corn bred or homemade biscuits. The third day, saute a half pound of hamburger or ground turkey, add a 6 oz can of tomato paste, a pinch of sugar, a tablespoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 tsp of thyme and enough water to make a thinnish sauce. Add a bit of cayenne if you like it hot. Simmer for an hour or two, rinse the last of the beans and add for a delicious chili. If you have any chili left, roll it up in a flour tortilla with a tablespoon or so of grated cheese. You can do the same kind of thing with chicken. Buy one whole and make stir fry with 1/2 chicken breast and in season veggies bought fresh. Bake or grill the other breast half and chop it into cubes. Cook some rice on the stove top and then layer half in a baking dish. Add the chicken cubes. Stir a small can of Ortega mild green chilies (not jalapenos!) into a can of Campbells cream of chicken soup. Pour it undiluted over the rice. Sprinkle with a bit of monterey jack cheese and bake until everything is hot. Simmer the rest of the chicken well covered with wate until it completely falls part. Strain and reserve the broth. Put half aside for tomorrow. Pick all the bone gristle etc.from the chicken and put half away for tomorrow. Cook noodles in half the broth then remove with a slotted spoon. Open a can of refrigerator biscuits (the kind for 25 cents) and cut each biscuit in quarters Drop pieces in the rest of the remaining simmering broth (if you don't have enough broth add water and some bouillon cubes to taste) a few at a time. Turn them once and remove with a slotted spoon when they are shiny. Cut one in half to test for doneness. They should be dry in the middle. Repeat until all the biscuit is cooked. By then the broth will be more of a gravy. Mix the chicken meat with the noodles and pour the gravy over. Serve with the dumplings. The next day mix the rest of the broth, the other half of the chicken and the rice from the second day and serve hot with biscuits, or add more Ortegas and serve wit hot flour tortillas. You can adjust the seasonings on any of these dishes to suit your own taste. I got these from the book I mentioned in another post. think through all of the things you can do with with a piece of meat and then cook them one at a time. I usually freeze this stuff so we aren't eating the same basic food every day. After a while you will have lots ingredients for cheap easy meals in the freezer and you can have something different each night.
So anybody and everybody are spoiled brats who have ever eaten ready to eat meals or fast food? What? What is WRONG with people being so nasty. Get over yourself and quit being so arrogant and judgemental. That really was an idiotic blanket statement. You have no clue what you are talking about.
Bitter much?? Why because that's the mind set of Americans?? Over indulge, want everything now now now!! Nope, that's pretty much most of the problems in this country right now! Way to get all upset over the truth!
I can eat 30 McChickens a month!
Some of the comments here really make me sick. We are currently on food assistance. My fiance lost his job and is looking for another one. I work 3 part-time jobs. Since we started receiving assistance, I've noticed a vast decrease in the amount of unhealthy foods coming into this house. I'm much more able to budget and plan meals wisely now because of the amount we get each month. Once he finds a job, I'm perfectly fine with receiving less benefits. I grow vegetables each summer and store them over the winter in an attempt to cut down on food costs. We buy frozen chicken breasts to use for multiple meals. We aren't uneducated or greedy (since many people seem to think recipients are) and often times I feel guilty about using assistance even though we're barely getting by. I know that there are some people that abuse the system, but I can assure you there are real people that are grateful for the assistance. I think in addition to gaining food assistance there should be some nutrition education that goes along with that–as for us, we do not use our EBT card for junk food or energy drinks–we buy locally grown vegetables, fruits, and meats. I've seen a lot of comments from people saying "I live on ramen!" but it's really not healthy (as someone who got through college eating ramen). I'm grateful that I did grow up in a household that required budgeting and careful consideration with regards to food, because if our benefits run out, I'll be better prepared to deal with a slim budget.
Don't listen to those who lord over others in judgment while they hide behind a keyboard. I used to be a social worker and gave out benefits and 99% of my clients like you and your husband who had been working or are working but weren’t making enough to cover basic necessities. You put into the system while you were working and still do by the taxes that are taken out of your check. Especially for food stamps/ebt cards they are heavily federally subsidized. So all you are doing is getting a hand up with money you already have and continue to put in the system. People will find anything and anybody to call names and judge. They are just unhappy people who try to make themselves feel better by putting others down.
Your fine and I hope things get better for you soon. Don't you dare feel bad for asking for some help while you get yourselves back on your feet.
great answer Elizabeth. I too am sick of reading the comments of greedy people who begrudge food to those who need help.
Mom says there but the grace of God. Anybody can be so poor they have to rely on assistance tomorrow (including myself). My theory is as long as you've got a dollar coming in, stock up on essentials while you still have the dollar. That's it. Even though I'm unemployed, and "supposed" to be cutting back, I still manage to spend an extra $10 on groceries for the community pantry for those who are worse of than I am.
Get a whole chicken, and bake it (which is quite healthy, and easy!) And some pie crust. And some veggies.
Tonight's chicken is also a week's worth of delicious pot pie! (they freeze well, then you just pop them in the oven!)
Except I don't like pot pie, but some homemade chicken soup or stir fry will hit the spot quite nicely thank you very much.
I love buying whole chickens!! It's cheaper and so many meals!! (pot pies being my fav, though I still mess the crust up, it's getting there) chicken soup, chicken casseroles that i randomly throw left overs in, home made soup stalk!!! And my favorite part, all the organs, cooked up and becomes a great little treat for the dog!
Yikes! This poor woman will starve to death. She has no idea how to shop or cook. I wonder what she is going to do with the tuna? eat it out of the can with a fork? She bought more bell peppers than tuna. I guess she eats those things like apples. She is going to get very sick of farina. Instead of espresso to kick up her energy she should have planned nutritious meals! As for the woman who is sure she can do $150 because she has several $10 and $15 dollar meals in mind, that's just for dinner. What about breakfast and lunch. You can't slide by on the kids eating at school because some of these people have to feed preschool children or it might be summer. I think she will find she has to fall back on supplies she already has on hand or she won't make it. If I spend $10.00 on one meal, it must be a celebration. We average $3-5. for two. Sarah Autry's Hardtimes Handbook @surviveanythingt.webs.com has lots or recipes in that price range
If she utilized her well stocked pantry, with pasta she can make tuna salad. NO cream of tuna on toast (my parents' favorite meal of all time...goes back to childhood during Great Depression). Can stuff bell peppers with rice pilaf or simply white rice (I do that myself on Fridays during Lent). Spaghetti can be supplemented with homemade sauce like Mom used to make. REAL garlic bread.
Nothing wrong with Farina for supper, especially after a heavy (for me) lunch.
Eating on two dollars a day per person is doable if you educate yourself. Check out minimalistmenufesto.wordpress.com for the right way. Save your budget and save the planet. Basic trick is to lean on the use of cheap fruits and vegetables combined with whole grains and beans, nuts and seeds like the American Indians used to.
You are so right. Canned fruits and vegetables are low-cost, proven sources of nutrients and sometimes safer than fresh. Beans are very nourishing and can be combined with small amounts of meat if necessary. We have forgotten how our grandparents, (or in your case, great grandparents) lived.
Precisely. The last and only time I tried to eat raw spinach it noted in the news that it may be contaminated. Stick with canned...one brand/size or another is always on sale.
Baked beans are one of those durable (homemade is best) that can mix with rice for a meal or mix a hot dog in for casserole.
Beans, Rice, Canned Vegtables, Frozen Vegtables, Nuts and Seeds are a wonderful thing. Maybe once a month a Big pot of stew. $30 dollars a month should not be a problem for a family of one person. I am not a vegatarian I love meat but it is just too expensive. Pork is the way to go if you want meat.
i just checked out the website and it looks very interesting. Thanks for the tip, but I couldn't find anything on food or budget meals there. Can you point the way?
Read the main page all the way to the bottom. Then read the Rants. Let me know what you think!
I just checked that website again (I copied your web address) and I went to minimalistmanifesto. Didn't find anything for menufesto. What am I doing wrong?
It's minimalistmenufesto.wordpress.com. You wrote manifesto–with an "A". Try again?
I struggle with this debate as a person who believes in social services. I understand the dilema that right now that many Americans so must live on so little but I also feel that we have to alter the feeling of entitlment we feel to eat whatever we want. Through the generations of convenience we have enjoyed as a nation we have forgotten the art of resourcefulness. It is possible to eat healthy within this budget and not be confined to be a "dollar menunaire". My inlaws eat within this budget everyweek and they have two school aged kids still in the house. This is not because they cannot afford it but rather because they are from a country we call "third world." Still, they eat staples like rice or corn meal flower and veggies like cabbage, onion,and tomatoes everyday with beans or meat. I agree that it is sad that there are people here who cannot afford more than $30/week but it is hard to feel too much sympathy when our version of poverty is so drastically different than other countries.
Um, the real tragedy here is no one should have to live like that. In the country that feeds the freaking world, that we have so many so hungry is an OUTRAGE. Thank you for nothing, stupid politicians and my selfish fellow citizens.
The author's approach to this challenge is ludicrious, and her flippant approach to the planning and shopping process is a slap on the face to many who spend a great deal of time and care finding ways to feed themselves and their families on a very low budget. When I saw the headline to this article I grabbed a piece of paper and made up a grocery list based on sensible shopping, and maximization of healthy, nutritious foods. I also assumed I would be feeding more than one person for that $30 per week. When I finished my list, and began reading the article more fully, I was dumbfounded.
Here's my list:
$2.00 = 2 cans of concentrated orange juice
$2.00 = 1 week's worth of milk powder
$2.00 = 5 pounds potatoes (often on sale for less)
$4.00 = 1 whole chicken
$6.00 = 1 pork roast
$3.00 = veggies for cooking (celery, carrots, onions)
$3.00 = 2 loaves bread (yes you can find bread cheaper than $2.99 a loaf if you don't shop at Fresh Fields)
$2.00 = 1 pack of cheese
$3.00 = 1 dozen eggs
$1.00 = 1 week's worth of butter
$2.00 = fruit (bananas, anything else on sale)
This would feed a family of TWO for a week:
Breakfast can include: Milk, juice, toast, egg, french toast, breakfast potatoes
Lunches: cheese sandwich, chicken sandwich, leftover roast pork with potatoes
Dinners: Roast chicken, chicken soup, roast pork (sides of baked potatoes, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots)
When I was young and poor my weekly groceries consisted of a $5.00 piece of beef (cut into 4 pieces, that was 4 days worth of dinner), 2 packs of ramen noodles per evening meal (10 cents a pack), a pack of hotdogs and 2 cans of beans, store brand macaroni and cheese for lunch (39 cents a box, about 4 boxes a week), oatmeal for breakfast, and milk.
I would be much more interested in the author exploring with REAL people who have to live on such a budget every week - the efforts they go through to feed themselves and their families - THAT'S a story worth reading.
You get more money if you have a dependent or a family.
You Go Girl! You sound like a true bargin shopper to me!
Absolutely. Every purchase needs to apply to more than one meal. A dozen eggs, loaf of bread, pkg of spaghetti, pound of ground beef (2 hamburgers 1/4 lb burgers on bread and 1/2 lb for spaghetti sauce), tomatoe sauce, rice, veggies....fried rice with egg and veggies, eggs scrambled with onions, tomatoes, and spinach.....You just have to plan it. The CLOSER to the earth the food is (less processed) the less expensive it will be and the healthier because of less preservatives and more fiber. $30 per week is do-able for one person.
you didn't get any green vegetables. A bag of frozen peas, or green beans should also be on your list.
Quit being so judgmental. A slap in the face? Don’t be such a drama queen. This is a reporter who is TRYING to find out how people feed their families on what little they have. She is TRYING to at least understand. This is the first week. And because she didn't shop like you think she should have you get arrogant and nasty. If you would have even bothered to read her article, she says she knows she will never know what it is like to really go through what people that have that little go through but again she is at least TRYING. And she also admitted she hadn't planned well and her purchases weren't the smartest. It is called learning from our mistakes. I would have been more impressed had your shared your knowledge with those of us that need it, without the judgmental arrogant commentary.
What a bunch of LIARS!!
ONE chicken and $6 worth of pork roast, LearningKat, to be stretched for two people for two weeks?
"7 soy burgers made from soy pulp (from the milk) @ 10 cents each: $0.70", Mark M.? What brand is that and where do you buy it? Is it as nutritious as, say...I dunno.. MEAT??
So..what people are saying here is "Nooo, the poor don't have to starve. They can have full bellies IF they make sure they buy mostly ramen, puts LOTS of water in that 'chicken soup' to make it last a few days AND eschew fresh vegetables and milk. Doesn't have to be any more nutritious than a bag of Cheetos..as long as a person eats, all is well with the world"
Did ANY of you ever spend a few weeks with a family living in poverty in the United States? You can pretend you know what you're talking about with your johnny-on-the-spot lists but, until you've actually TRIED to live on that without anything to fall back on when you tire of it, you're lying to yourselves and anyone foolish enough to believe you.
The $30 budget I worked up is for ONE week's worth of meals, not two. A whole chicken will feed one person four four nights as their main course, or two people for two nights, plus soup for leftovers at least one more night. A pork shoulder can be had for about 89 cents a pound, and you get a lot of meat from it. I have been poor, and I am not being dramatic. Privileged folks trying to "see what it's like to be poor" are nothing new, - I just would have hoped that by now such folks would see how insulting their behavior is. Whatever good intentions the author might have, she approached her "project" in a very flippant way. And lest you miissed the purpose of "opinion" columns, making judgments about their writing is what you are SUPPOSED to do.
I'm with you. I had to raise four kids on a tiny food budget. We planned and ate like you-even had steak once in a while, but NO potato chips, bags of candy, hostess cupcakes or any of those other meaningless expensive calories. We made cookies, pies, cakes and cinnamon bread, and occasional batch of fudge for treats. We bought 2% milk to drink but all cooking was done with powdered milk, although we drank it too, when we still had month left over at the end of the money. No sugar coated cereals, just oatmeal and cream of wheat with toast from homemade bread. but I understand not everyone had the advantage of a frugal, cook from scratch Mom and Grandma's like I did. All food stamp recipients should be required to take a class on shopping and cooking nutritiously as a qualification for receiving them. the USDA puts out reams of pamphlets on these topics. They should be handed out at the welfare office (or whatever its called these days). It breaks my heart to think of mothers skipping meals so their kids can eat when it isn't necessary. They just don't know any other way to do it.
Exactly! Add some pasta to that list of yours and it even goes further. The author isn't going to make it. There was no planning involved. You must plan and stretch your menus. You have the right of it. Where I live fresh fruits and veggies are tad higher. I tend to buy the frozen veggies and a lot less fresh fruit than what I would like to have. Dented cans are a bargain as well. There is no eating out or boxed processed foods in my world. Very good reply and your interest is in the right place.
$30 a week is totally doable, especially if you stock up on things like rice and beans. I get a big bag (20 lbs.) of rice twice a year at one of the local asian markets (great deals there!) for under $20. Whole chickens in the crock-pot for 5 or 6 dollars works through several meals plus I use the stock for a soup. Grow your own herbs if possible and make pesto's to freeze and keep through the winter. Visit the farmer's market with $10 (better deals at closing time) and you are good to go. If the first inclination is to go to a big supermarket with tons of processed foods, that's your first mistake in paying more for food (and yes I understand that not everybody has the options available to me)
yes, it's possible. Buy in bulk, buy nothing that's prepared like TV dinners or cookies or chips or soda pops. It takes meal planning but it most definitely IS possible and not all that hard, not really.
$30 goes a lot further in some areas than others.
However, I've read most of the comments, and I'm surprised not to hear more people advocating baking breads and treats yourself. Flour, sugar, milk and egg prices are all rising, but you can still get a lot more out of a bag of flour, an egg and some yeast than you can can from even very cheap bread. Depending on your loaf size, you can get six to eight loaves of bread from one bag of flour. There are a lot of bread recipes out there, but many don't require milk or oil, some don't even require eggs. So there's usually a recipe you can find for whatever budget you have.
If you don't much like to bake, take one day and make enough loaves for the whole month – for me, it's actually half a loaf or so a week, but I don't eat as many sandwiches as most. Freeze the rest. They'll be perfect again once defrosted.
Homemade bread tends to be much more filling and nutritious. I've made whole meals out of melting a little cheese over the top of a slice or two and pairing it with a vegetable of choice and a glass of milk. Add an egg, and you've got a really filling breakfast for pennies.
You can also make a ton of other meals on the cheap with homemade dough. Instead of buying frozen pot pies, you can roll out the dough into a bakeable pot for a crust, toss a little meat and a lot of veggies and filling and bake it. A dollar or two of supplies and it'll make enough for three or four meals. You can make a simple sweet bread with a little extra sugar, some cinnamon and honey, chocolate chips, or other assorted oddments you might have in your kitchen. Again super cheap, and a bit of sweet to satisfy your dessert craving.
Um... with all the adults probably working, who's going to do the baking? Where's the time? If you use electric ovens for baking the 220 power drives the elec bill out of the roof.
I work full time, and I bake my own bread. It takes around 3-4 hours depending on how many times you beat down the dough and let it rise again, but almost that entire time you can do other things. Prep time after you're used to your recipe takes maybe 20 minutes. Clean up, maybe the same. The rest is waiting and then baking.
Most people have a couple hours at some point in their week. You could take a week night or a weekend, make four or six loaves (which takes about the same time to make depending on how many bread pans you have and the capacity of your oven), and freeze them all. You've got bread for a month in one afternoon.
Saying you don't have time to bake is just an excuse. If you don't want to, that's fine. To some people, it's too much effort. But it's still a great way to have a filling staple with minimal effort and expense.
i DO eat off of considerably less than $30 week, more like $30 every 2 weeks because I work and pay bills and that is what I can afford since my husband has been laid off for 3 years and cannot find a job. Most people on food stamps, Sect. 8, medicaid have been living off the government their entire lives and have no intention of ever working. Why should they since they get free everything (and a raise if they have another baby)
you sound like you are misinformed. No EVERYONE is on there for a life time. I was on the rolls for 5 years as I went to school and took care of my daughter. I got my degree and had my First pay check by the time my daughter started Kindergarten. Prior to me no one from my family had EVER collected.
Ummmm....lemme guess...Teabagger, right? Your lack of research and spouting of regurgitated misconceptions (aka LIES) gave it away.
I side with the author, I'm fortunate enough to be a member of the upper-upper class and I spend an average of $14,000/wk on meals (this covers a family of 4), this includes my personal chef and his helper to prep. We typically start out with an array of appetizers, such as Beluga caviar, and the main entre might be something like lobster with a white truffle sauce topped with shaved white truffles, or a nice cut of prime filet mingon. For desert something is specially made each night by a pastry chef we bring in. We spend way more than $30 each night on our homemade bread, so I can understand how it would be tough to live on $30/wk.
And I'd like to add my family didn't start out right, my great-great grand pappy was one of those who spent $30/wk, but with hard work and dedication you can eventually be like me.
Can you adopt me? Just let me know!!
When your great grand pappy was around, 30 bucks a week for food was a LOT of money.. You could buy a brand new model T car in 1925 for about 300 dollars.
Well laddy da da...
Yes, I've been there and done that – but not under food stamps, but with my own money. I do my best not to get any kind of government assistance, I guess it's a matter of pride. But I have been down and out, but always willing to take any kind of (legal) job I can get.
If you are getting food stamps then you are probably going to food pantries also. I think that if you are driving a car less than 10 years old you don't need food stamps. I think food stamps should have a monthly limit of 24 months total for a life time except for people over 62. My oldest brother who is 76 said a few years ago F66K the poor people and I think he was right. If you notice the articles of people who are out of work they just keep having babies. I am sick and tired of supporting all these dead beats.
Do you know how many military families are on food stamps? And you want to kick them off? How patrotic of you.
It isn't necessary for military families to be on food stamps.....though it is a sad commentary that they qualify based on what they are paid. My husband was E6, we had 5 sons who ate a lot, and through careful planning & management we were able to feed the entire family nourishing and filling meals without the use of food stamps. Nor food pantries. I didn't know how to cook when I got married, but I learned. Our kids never starved and never did without. And there were plenty of times I can remember having just enough money left to buy a bag of flour which would get us through the last few days till payday,....pancakes, waffles, homemade bread, biscuits, etc. all from a 5 lb bag of flour. It takes time & planning but it is possible. No delivery pizza. No soda. No cold cereal. No box cookies. No chips. No McDonald's EVER. They didn't miss what they never had and to this day none of them have ever complained about having "to do without" when they were growing up.
That and if he's 76...he's getting one hell of a lot more out of SS than he paid into it. He's a freeloader too.
Those saying $30/wk is easy should keep in mind that many young and low income people have never been taught to cook from inexpensive bulk foods. I'm quite thrifty, but in college I really struggled to feed myself on the $35/week I had for groceries. I spent extra for instant rice and canned beans, for example, because no one I knew had a crockpot or knew how to cook rice or soak dried beans. These days I'm sure I could do better, but that's with years of practice cooking for forgiving adult eaters to figure it all out. Not everyone gets that chance to experiment and learn by trial and error – it's definitely more expensive than $30/wk.
Or...you can be resourceful and get a cookbook from the library or look on the internet and learn how to cook. It's really not that hard.
You should have bought everything from C-Town. They are cheaper then Fairview.
I live in Texas now. I coupon and look for deals. Food stamps are suppose to be used as a supplement. I don't get my nails done, don't get my hair cut as often as I should, and think about what I am going to cook.
You are doing this for one person. I would imagine most recipients get more. If you get $30 a week per person that's $120 a month per person. When you shop you don't but per person. You buy for the family. It's more expensive to buy a small pack of chicken as opposed to a whole chicken. Often there are B1G1deals. If it is just you then you might not do that. To do a real study....challenge a "regular" family. Work with social services to determine what it would cost them for a month. Give them the money and instructions and see how they do. If the kids are in school they should eat the school lunch for free and any "free" stuff that happens through the school. The parents should be able to have coffee if it is free (in the office) and if there is any treats from the office. If they "cheat" they have to record it so it's taken into the equations. In fact, do four families. North, South, East, West.... I get the reason behind doing this but it's hard when you hear that families get $600-$800 a month. That is very doable. We shouldn't pay for sodas. Food stamps should be for REAL food. Bread, milk, veggies, meat,cereal.... I am even fine with chocolate chips to bake. Maybe part of the problem is ideas for cooking. Maybe with food stamps they should provide suggested shopping for specific meals? Hell, hook up with Jamie Oliver. I coupon and buy stuff on sale but I know spend money we shouldn't by eating out. I am going to write down every dime we spend on food. Then I am going to do m own challenge. One week for my entire clan. I think I will do really great. $150 for the week. I have five $10-15 dollar meals for dinners already in my mind! (I love the food network).
The issue for many food stamp individuals is a combination of problems such as a lack of cooking skills, lack of proper facilities for cooking, lack of pans and utensils, and/or no back stock, pantry. This can make it very difficult to prepare healthy meals. Many low income folks live in a food desert and lack a grocery store to shop and shop at the corner market with higher prices and very few healthy choices. I teach cooking classes to low-income families so that they can learn to eat healthy meals that are low cost. If you do not have a well stocked pantry, it is also difficult to cook nutritious
meals without a back stock of seasonings and basic pantry items.
Being on food stamps should not mean that folks eat only highly processed foods. Let's hope we find ways to help individuals who are struggling find ways to choose wisely and learn how to shop and cook nutritious healthy meals. We need to bring back home ec. in high school so that our young people will learn how to cook.
I don't buy that. I can cook entire meals using a hot pot (i.e. pot that heats water) and/or a microwave. Most of my pots and pans come from Goodwill (I even found some Le Creuset frypans there too!) And if all you have is a microwave, you can cook. You just need a cookbook to get the skills. Where? The library or Goodwill! Cook chicken pieces in marinade? cover with sauce, microwave 8 minutes. I didn't live on ramen in college, I cooked rice, potatoes, barley and pasta. I bought cheap veggies in season. I used (and still use) cheap canned tomatoes. Protein was tuna, chicken, peanut butter, beans and eggs. If I lost my job, I'd grow a garden and raise hens for eggs in the back yard. You want thrifty recipes? Go to Project Gutenberg for free (if older) e-cookbooks. They have depression era recipes, or go here: http://www.food.com/cookbook/depression-era-recipes-225279
What you people are talking about is absolutely crazy. I spend more than 30 a day on food! Lobster and Flamenon's are expensive! So it all that caviar...
Sucks to be poor I guess. I wouldn't know.
If you eat it, you should know the proper spelling, it's "filet mignon", two separate words. Too bad all that money couldn't buy you a proper education.
You should NOT be allowed to comment on something like this if you do NOT know what it is like to live off of food stamps, or any other type of government assistance. Not all people who are doing so are mouchers, some tried their hardest to find a job before even applying. And are still trying their hardest while they recieve this assistance. So SCREW YOU.
No, but I know what it is like to work at a barely above minimum wage jobs and live as cheaply as I could so I wouldn't have to be a mooch, and then watch people blow my tax money on junk food and garbage. That's who a lot of us "think we are."
huh? so having managed to put myself through college by mowing lawns i have no idea of the value of money?
If the author knew how to cook, living on 30.00 a week is not hard to do. Why buy 2 chicken breast when you can buy an entire bird for the same price & make multiple meals including stock for soup & sauce. This only 1 way to make the dollar go farther there are many more.
Is Omaba's picture on the food stamp? I heard someone say that but haven't confirmed it. Could someone receiving food stamps let me know who's picture is on them?
There are no people pictured on food stamps. In fact, there aren't even any actual stamps any more. You get a card, and you use if much like a debit card. In Washington state, it has a picture of a mountain on it.
That is right at what my wife and I spend each month. Our max budget for groceries/food is 250. For the most part we are able to eat very healthy foods, veggies, and fruits with the occasional lean protein mixed in. When we have large bulk purchases the per week is higher than 30/person but balances out at the end of the month.
I've been on food stamps due to disability and it's like the author said.. choice after often agonizing choice of what can I afford and will I make it through the week if I buy this or that item. It's stress you don't have to think about when you have a good job. Now, on a minimum wage job, you often aren't getting paid more than someone on disability and are right at the poverty line and people like that have the same problems I had– and that's very sad to me too because sometimes they have kids they have to figure out how to feed too.
So the author is part of a CNN study that will be showing how hard it is to budget $30 per person per week, and profile the food stamp recipients only? That can't be right. They are given vouchers for baby food, milk, cheese, pasta, fresh orange juice, cereal, diapers, rent assistance, heat assistance, whatever. At what point do they have to shell out $30 for anything at the store. Per person? I'm feeding THREE out of pocket on a food budget of $30 per week. I think CNN could have picked a better group to profile than ones who are getting it all for free. I can't remember the last time I bought a "luxury" item like OJ.
Not true. Just because you qualify for food stamps does not mean you qualify for housing assistance, utilities assistance, or coupons for milk, cheese, etc. Some states do have programs that are geared towards women with children and provide extra assitance but if you are a single person, you probably don't. My mother was a single parent while I was in junior and high school and we qualified for food stamps but no other form of aid. It was a struggle. We ate lots of ramen with frozen vegatables.
NOT everyone gets WIC.. also people not on food stamps can get WIC... I understand where BOTH are coming from as I have been on BOTH sides. Food is EXPENSIVE and unless you are making 40 bucks an hour you will starve!
Not true. I'm retired and living on $1200 and $160 in food stamps a month. The first time in my life I have every had to ask for help. I support myself and my 16 yr old grandson (who was abandoned by his father, he left him with me after my daughter died). My rent is $700 per month. No housing voucher, I pay the full rent. I do get a 30% savings on my electric bill. My bill runs very low. I don't use air or heat unless it is very uncomfortable. I receive no vouchers for any of the items you listed above. I do not have cable TV. No cell phone. No eating out. I do not smoke or drink coffee. If you have a teen you know how much a teen boy eats. I pay $100 a month for Medicare and another $96 for my HMO to supplement Medicare. I also pay $30.00 co-pays for each office visit, lab work or other diagnostic test my doctor orders. Don't assume because we need help we are afforded a free ride. I worked for 45 years and paid taxes. I receive no child support (DA is fighting for it, for us) and although I am humiliated when using FS I know that my family of 2 (one a teen boy) can't survive without them. On my birthday and Xmas my brother gifts me Costco gift cards. I load up on things like laundry detergent, bath soap, toilet tissue, etc. My grandson does not receive free lunches or breakfast because he is not on campus until 1pm each day. He interns w/o pay earning credits and goes to classes from 1 – 5 pm. I feed him breakfast and make his lunch. Each summer he works and earns money for school clothes, summer clothes, hair cuts, toiletries, etc. Sometimes help is needed. As a country we need to start showing compassion instead of making those in need feel like losers. Most who receive assistance already feel low enough.
Sorry Soupergran, I guess we are all given a skewed image by the media and by the young mothers I've seen dripping with gold jewelry in line at the stores using their EBT cards to buy better food than I can. What little gold jewelry I had is long gone to the pawn broker. My post did have a what about me! slant to it. And yes, I know how much boys eat. You sound like a great Gran, hope your situation improves.
This may work for some, but I would be losing weight and/or needed nutrition on $30. I have celiac, so no gluten products, bread, pasta, cereal, etc. I am allergic to soy products, so aside from the normal stuff like soy sauce, there is an enormous amount of food products that contain soy beans and soy lecithin that I have to avoid. Lastly, I have a intolerance to dairy products, so no milk, etc. Yeah I can eat a ton of rice and potatoes, but I would have to eat meat to supplement my workout schedule, or I would be burning far more calories than I take in. It just goes to show, that things aren't this simple. I also live in Hollywood, CA, where things are more expensive on average and we have an almost 10% sales tax. It's cool that some people can manage, but if I had to live like that for too long, I would not be able to stay healthy.
I'm guessing that you wouldn't have such a gruelling workout schedule if you were struggling to make ends meet. You'd likely be spending a lot more time working and less time working out.
Well I never said that my workout schedule was particularly or that I had any need to eat on $30. I was simply pointing out that it would be unhealthy for me to do so. Not to mention, boring. Thanks for your snarky comment, though.
I'll spare you from reading another paragraph of blab:
Education > Everything
I'm an Eligibility Worker in California. I process food stamp applications. I can tell you that depending on the amount of the household's income a single person with zero income (after the budgeting process) can get $200/mo in Food Stamps. That translates to roughly $50/wk. The budgeting process includes deductions for a portion of their housing/utilities and a Standardized deduction based on household size (that comes right off the top). I had a family member of my own that who's household included herself, 3 children and a fiance. They were collecting a few dollars shy of $800/month in Food Stamps. Every time we would visit, the kitchen would be stocked with cubes of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and various other sodas. They had Capri Sun for the kids and the cupboard would be stocked with cookies, candy, cake mixes, brownie mixes, hamburger helper, etc. No fruit or veggies anywhere to be found and some meat in the freezer. Every couple of months everyone in her email address book would get an email saying they were running out of food, she was having to skip meals to be sure she fed the kids etc. I feed a household of 7 on $500/mo and that includes a few snack items, toiletries, paper products, laundry soap and cat food! I make a menu every two weeks for dinners and buy accordingly for those meals, then I also add in cereal, milk, bread, and the other items mentioned. It's not hard, you just gotta wanna! Heck, I've even started using coupons in the last couple of years, I love 'em.
I used to work summers at a convenience store. It was so infuriating to see the poor, underprivileged people come in and buy soda, candy, chips, cupcakes, etc. with their food stamps. I still don't know how they managed to afford their smokes, beer, and the $20 bucks a week for lottery tickets. Somehow, they always had the cash for those "necessities."
Don't forget crack and weed.
I used to work at a convenience store too. The ones you see have other means of making money, where I worked it was because many employers employed people "under the table" and they would get food stamps because they had invisible income. People who truly need food stamps don't come into convenience stores. I can definitely tell you that the town I worked in was probably close to 30% or more on food stamps – very poor area – (Ashland, PA) but I rarely had anyone come in and get candy with their food stamps. And those that did it was the same few people all the time. Most were buying real food at the grocery store downtown.
So what you're saying is, we could let them fight to the death for the food stamps and the winner can eat the loser (that alone would save you an entire month's worth of meat). This way, no one goes hungry AND we settle the population problem, at the same time!
I have read some of the comments, and I think that some of thme are harsh. The producer does not state where she lives, and cost of living does matter. Also, a lot of people are not taking to account the new poor. If you have never been poor or lower middle class (the new poor) you have no idea on how to budget even $30 a week for groceries, because you never had to do it. I was watching a news show and they were interviewing a downsized bank vice-president. She had been unemployed for a while and she was applying to secretary positions. That is a lifestyle and life changing adjustment. If you have kids it just gets crazier and more depressing. And for those proponents of Ramen noodles, that is not the answer. Processed junk is affecting our health, not just our weight. And if poor people are burdened with high cholesterol, blood pressue, diabetes and obesity, how can they get off their behinds, get a job and keep it? Especially with no insurance. How can their children do better in school? Our nation's children are not doing well in education, as shown by the recent SAT scores. I know, we have crappy schools, crappy teachers, lazy parents, but if you don't think that crappy nutrition does not add to the equation, you are a fool. It is not a conicidence that one of the CNN heroes gives out produce to inner cities. What is shocking is that so many kids don't even know that they eat poorly. Kids and adults in the depression knew that they had to make due until times got better. I have a job, I am not on welfare or have foodstamps. But, I have found this economy challenging as well. So, I created a blog. http://thedetroitfrugaldiva.blogspot.com/
Your entire comment lost all credibility when you used the term "new poor". Why not just call them "Financially challenged" or "Nutritionally deprived"? Just say what you mean, BROKE
I read this article and I remember growing up to something similar. What I learned and saw is I never wanted to live and work as hard as my parents did for food and other expenses. So I went to school and supprted myself all the way thru. What sad is Americans rather have their hands open and accept this 30 dollars a week and cry about it. If this was earlier times there was no hands out. Survival of the fittest. You either swim or drown. I think too many people rely on our country to bail them out and we are suppose to feel bad about it. No one felt bad for me then. I know times now are harder to get and education (due to less financial aide) or a job. But if you settle and are happy with 30 then dont complain. Because there are ways out if you sacrfice and struggle if you believe the reward in the end will be better than what you currently have, There is always ways to better yourself. You just have to take a minute and look to see what your options are.
I think you are so wonderful to have posted this.
You are an idiot. sink or swim? I am not on food stamps but some people need help. When people get old, i guess you think they should just go into the woods and wait to die.
food stamps were never and will never be intended to buy all your food. It is a supplemental program.
That is a very important piece of info. If that little fact was included it wouldn't be a good "times are tough" atricle.
Exactly, CJ. Food stamp alottments are designed to be SUPPLEMENTAL, not cover all the grocery bill. It would be difficult to feed a family, even a very small family, on $30 per week, but the food stamps were never intended to cover all the groceries.
$30.00: About 2 Weeks of Food For One Average Size Person:
$4.80: 10 Bags of Ramen Noodles in various Flavors at 0.48 Food Lion
$2.49 12 small Gala apples in a bag: Trader Joes
$1.99 1 bag of conventional Frozen Blueberries, 16 oz: Trader Joes
$1.25 6 Bananas: Trader Joes
$4.00 4 Avocados, 0.99 ea: Food Lion
$3.00 1lb Chicken Thighs: About 6 pieces: Food Lion OR 1 fresh cake of extra firm Tofu: Trader Joes
$3.59 1 large Box of spoon-size Shreaded Wheat & Bran Cereal: Food Lion
$1.69 1 36 oz box of Soy Milk: Trader Joes or 1/2 gal Your Fav. Milk
$1.29 1 12 oz bag Frozen Peas: Trader Joes
$1.99 1 16 oz box of Baker's Dark Baking Chocolate
$3.91 Another Vegetable, protein, fruit, or carb of your choice OR coffee or tea, if you don't have that on hand.
You can make this last about 2 weeks IF YOU budget your food consumption ea. day AND if you are only feeding one person of average, healthy weight.
Sorry, you're suggesting that people gnaw on a chunk of baking chocolate? What are you suggesting they eat that with?
This is 2 weeks worth of food? That's not even 1,000 calories a day. Not to mention it's terrible for you. Raman is EXTREMELY high in sodium, chicken thighs are the fattiest cut of protein you could choose, and everything else is just sugar. The ratio of fruit to vegetable should be reversed at least, but even still, 1k calories a day is going to put an average person in starvation mode and storing sugars as fat over 2 weeks. Bad, bad advice.
I think most commenters are missing the point. The author is not familiar with food stamps and how to budget on $30 a week, so there is going to be some trial and error on her part. Both my husband and I have been out of work at one time or another in our marriage (BTW-still made too much to qualify for food stamps), and I have had to learn how to budget for a family of 7. I utilize bread stores (loaves as low as $0.69), clip coupons, study weekly ads, buy in bulk. She'll get it down...give her a break!
I really don't know if I'd be able to only spend $30 a week on groceries. The bread pictured is what I buy and Pepperidge Farm. I've been to the Dollar Store, wouldn't go back, it was a mess and had brands I have never heard of. I really depends on where live as to much $$$ food costs. I live north of Boston and the stores aren't cheap and neither are the farmer's markets.
I think you would be AMAZED at what you could eat if you really had to. That Dollar Store bread would look pretty good if you really were hungry enough.
That's an ongoing problem with articles like this. Most authors jump in without doing any research, and they make little attempt to distinguish between "the difficulty of living on Food Stamps" and "My difficulty getting used to a Food Stamp budget". If the challenge were to live on $120 a month, and if the author had spoken with other Food Stamp recipients beforehand for advice, I think she'd find this challenge far easier. (Not easy, not pleasant, not healthy, but easiER.)
Tip – go to a bakery outlet store for your bread, pizza crust etc – the same bread pictured in the articile for $2.99 costs less than half that at my local Entenmann's outlet store...I can get large Boboli pizza crusts there for $1.75 (again 1/2 store price).
$30 a week? Easy...being doing it for years...actually more like $20-25 a week. Not because I have to, I'm just cheap. If you don't by all processed/fast foods or top of the line meat, it is pretty simple. Rice, beans, lettuce, carrots, peas, apples and some fish and chicken and you've got some pretty healthy, low cost meals. Add an egg and oatmeal for breakfast. Heck, most people in other countries get by with $30 a month.
$30.00 can buy a (14) pack of chicken legs, a medium bag of rice, dry beans,tomatoes, 1 gallon of milk, bread,butter, 1/2 lb cheese, and a few babanas!!!
Shop at Walmart.
Yes indeed! I think was my last shopping trip.
There is nothing new in this article....I've been living off of $30 a week in groceries for the last year. It's totally possible, especially if you are willing to give up things like ice cream, soda, candy, and other "treats".
I trained to eat fast food all my life until it caught up to me. Eat on $30 a week? Sure. Easy peasy. Just eat healthy and fresh. Here's how I do it:
A 2lb tub of Quaker brand instant oats is breakfast for months, and costs about $2.50. A 50lb bag of rice costs $25 and will last about half a year. Rice goes with a lot of meals, and it is very filling. Pinto beans are filling and nutritious – a 25lb bag costs about $15. By the way – a one person rice cooker costs about $15. A one-person crockpot costs the same. Those two cookers sip electricity. My electric bill is unreal – under $10 a month.
Chopped frozen spinach is about $1 a box at my local Food4Less, but one box is three servings. Sweet potatoes are about $1 each (two servings). I take a chewable daily multivitamin ($6.50 for 60 tablets). I splurge on Gatorade, enriched soy milk and cream-of-something soups. The condensed cream soups are three servings per can for about $1.50.
You can make soup fixings – the cream soups that I buy can be made by hand for pennies, but I'm soooo lazy. I should drink water (free) instead of Gatorade. The multivitamin eliminates the need to drink enriched soy milk. I still eat fast food about once a week as a treat. My health has improved and I have a lot more energy. My weight has dropped and I am saving a lot of money.
$30 a week is no problem.
Like others, I, too, notice the food stamps and wic people loading up carts with a bunch of food that I would never buy. I avoid dairy and meats because dairy is hard on the stomach and meat is sooo pricey! I am no vegan, just a healthy eater. Anyways, I hope that my post "walked the talk" a bit for someone.
the multivitamins are a waste
I did the same thing in college. It's really not that hard to live on ~$30 a week. You buy starch in bulk (rice, potatoes, oatmeal), cheap protein (beans, eggs and milk – milk was subsidized in my state so I can get it for around $4/two gallons – maybe whatever meat's on sale – it's not that hard to find chicken or beef for $2/lb.) and whatever the cheapest fruit in the grocery store is. You eat frozen (when on sale) or canned or fresh when it's in season. (I've seen a lot of different fruits and vegetables for around $1/lb. when in season.)
It's honestly not that hard. I'm glad that I earn more now and can spend significantly more on meals. But $1/meal isn't really all that tricky to anyone who needs to make do.
30 per person? cause that's what I do. Ususally less. and it's all fruits, veggies and lean meats. and cereal and bread and milk and cheese. I don't buy any junk.
Dairy products are hard on my stomach. I drink enriched soy milk instead, and go very easy on cheeses when I use them at all.
Agreed. $30 per person per week is plenty to feed a family. We generally spend $20-25 a week per person and that's eating organic and name brand items as well as a serving of meat 4-6 oz once a day. However, we only buy food for meals... no snacks, candies, etc... other than items that are baked at home. The only time we spend $30 a week is if we need to stock up on staple items.
I have never in my life seen so much food being wasted anywhere in the world except the US. It's a shame for this country really. If you think you are short on $30/week. Try living on 30 rupees a week!
The gov should also give EBT to the undock umented people in this country.
Are they talking about $30 per person? Why I'd feel downright upper middle class if I was allotted $90 a week to feed myself and two kids. I've been feeding us all (my brown bag lunch included) on $30 or less a week all this time. I agree with another poster, I think I'll quit my job and sign up now! I think I'll fit right in with the teenage girl ahead of me at Pathmark with a toddler and a newborn buying 3 times the amount of food I was with her food stamps and the babies 35 year old grandmother looking on approvingly.
Quit your job? Why, what are you proving? Let's be logical and think about our community, country and all humankind.
Jo, it is called sarcasm.
Yeah, but I'm not laughing. I'm saddened by this topic and don't find anything funny about it. I however, agree to disagree but let's think about our fellowman (woman) and not just ourself.
Jo, sarcasm doesn't have to be funny... just sarcastic.
We could replace food stamps with food baskets. I see too many fat people using food stamps for junk food.
I feed a family of nine on roughly $2.15 each a day. Where do I sign up for the extra $2.12 that the average food stamps recipient gets over what I pay out of pocket?
I understand that there are folks out there living a very hard life and that does sadden me, but I think about those out there taking advantage of the system and that makes me furious. My husband and I both work hard to provide for our family and to allow our children to have certain advantages. But he has 2 sisters that are both married stay at home moms who collect state benefits such as food stamps to afford the privilege to stay home. They both collect about $600 a month in food stamps for 3 children under the age of 6. Now I have no issues with stay at home moms at all, more power to you. But if you cannot afford to stay home than maybe it is time to re-evaluate some situations in your life. The kids that are in school of theirs also are provided free lunches at school. Now we pay around $150 a month for school lunches and spend about $400 a month on our grocery bill. What I don't get is how my in-laws get $600 in food stamps and say that isn't enough and have the audacity to complain. !! Incredulous! Like I said this is not a working parent/non working parent issue because I could care less what others do in that regard unless it is effecting me personally. But there are many people that get more than their fair share of food stamps, so why not re-access the formula and help those truly in need such as the elderly or working parents out there really trying!
How on Earth do you get away with spending $15 per week on groceries for a family of 9? Do you give everyone a grain of rice for each meal? Do you ever eat fruits or vegetables? I don't believe it unless you left out the part where you own a huge farm.
That's $2.15 EACH per day. I think you missed the "each" in there.
That's actually about $135.45 he spends on food a week ($15.05 per person). Which means it's around $541.80 per month. I'd say that's a pretty admiral amount to spend on a family of nine.
If you go by the $30 per person, per week rule, it would be $270 per week and around $1,080 per month. That's nearly double.
Personally, I find that it's easier to make the money go further the more people you have. For instance, I find that feeding two on $50 a week is easier than feed just one on $30. Having a larger lump sum of money means you can buy some things in bulk that will last a lot longer, and most of the food you buy will be communal and will stretch further. With a smaller sum of money, it's harder to buy one thing in bulk without sacrificing something else you may really need.
I appreciate the intent of this article but it doesn't reflect what I see in carts. I served in a welfare ministry in a poor area and took people grocery shopping on their food stamp money. Perhaps this is just a difference of "recently on food stamps" vs. "on food stamps for generations", but there is very little eating healthy on food stamps. There's a lot of sugared cereals and junk food. For those who are attempting to eat healthy on $30 a week, you pretty much need to get staples from a church or community food pantry and use food stamps for whatever wasn't provided from those sources.
That is true but food stamps are given to those who have health problems and can not work, or work out or do much of anything. In addition, depression can have a mighty grasp on people to boot.
They should give food stamps to the not yet documented.
Unhealthy food is cheaper so yeah, it's different taking a person who is used to eating healthy and comparing to those whose families have traditionally been poor and know what comes at the best price.
Unhealthy food is not really cheaper....rice and beans are pretty healthy and pretty cheap. I buy a twenty pound bag for about $14. We are a family of 5, eating rice 3 times a day and the bag lasts about one and a half to two months. Add in some locally caught fish, some eggs and chicken, and some vegetables and fruits...we easily get by on about $100 to $125 a month for our whole family. We are all in very good health and do a lot of exercising. Admittedly we spend about an extra $60 a month going out to eat (once a month), but that's still well below the $30/week/person discussed.
I agree Theresa, maybe limitations on what can be purchased or required lessons on healthy eating> Though it does cost a bit more to eat healthy than it does to eat bad.
I think it's pretty fair to say that most people on food stamps have some big mental health issues around their neck – like depression. For whatever reason, right or wrong, they are unable to pull in enough income for food. Often, people eat sugary and unhealthy things as a depression or stress-alleviating coping strategy. When someone is so down and out, that is NOT the time to reasonably expect them to change their life-long eating patterns. Most on Food Assistance that I've seen in the check-out line DO BUY healthy foods, in addition to some junk food. So everyone get off your high horse.
The problem in the USA is problem of plenty. With 70% either over weight or obese if anything people should be eating less and not more. With $120 per week for a family of four you can buy hell of a lot food. If anything Government should reduce the amount.