September 28th, 2011
09:01 AM ET
Sheila Steffen is a producer for CNN. Read part one of her food stamp challenge, wherein she shopped for a week's worth of groceries, spending only the $30 which would be allotted by food stamps.
Previously: Could you live on $30 a week? | Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America | Childhood malnutrition has long lasting effects
On Sunday night I’m finishing up the last of my big pot of black beans. The bag of dry beans I purchased along with a bag of rice has been three of my main meals this week.
I’m not against leftovers; I eat them. It's just that I normally wouldn’t plan to eat the same thing again and again but this past week it was that, or go hungry. I didn’t have the luxury of variety or choice.
My $30 food stamp challenge forced some difficult shopping choices and as many readers pointed out, I may not have made the wisest. I’m more accustomed to shopping for convenience than hunting for bargains. But I am keenly aware that each purchase I made for this week is accounted for, either for a breakfast, a lunch, or a dinner and maybe a snack.
I spend all of my $30 before realizing I've forgotten sauce for my box of pasta. The peppers I'd initially regretted buying come in handy and along with three tomatoes I make my own sauce. Cooking big pots of food is a necessary strategy.
The first two days are filled with periods of hunger. 5:30 on Tuesday seems too early to be thinking about dinner but that’s all I can think about it. I race home from work to fix a chicken breast, broccoli and rice; the best and most nutritious meal in my week. I get to have it twice.
Wednesday’s the most difficult; I wake up hungry and help myself to a big bowl of Farina but realize a ‘bigger portion’ strategy isn’t the answer. It’ll fill me up now but I’m afraid if I eat too much I will run out of my allotted food before the end of the week.
I count the slices of bread in my loaf and discover there are a few extra slices– which means one day I can have two sandwiches! I decide today is that day and bring two PB&J sandwiches to work for lunch.
It's clear food has been on my mind more than usual this week. I think when you have a limited budget and fewer choices; you’re forced to do more thinking and planning around meals. I’m so very conscious, too, of all the things I have to forego. I can’t just grab a coffee or go to dinner with friends. I feel a bit isolated. Not having enough money for food affects not just your mood and health, but also your social life.
Thursday is the first morning I don’t wake up hungry. I think my body may be getting used to less food. Still, I’m afraid I’ll get hungry so I eat a bowl of Farina anyway. I get through the day fine but decide against going to the gym after work. How do parents, who may skip meals so their kids can eat, find the energy they need to shop, cook, and care for the kids?
Coffee may be a luxury, but I’m glad I bought some. If my calorie count this week is low, my morning cup of joe helps make up for it and keeps me going.
A weekend out of city limits proves a bit tricky. Not only do I have to bring food, I can't share it! “Sorry honey, can’t offer you any,” is what I keep saying.
Sounds selfish, right? But my food supply is limited, and this last chicken breast is what I’ve set aside and planned for my dinner tonight. It’s all I have. On Sunday rushing to catch an afternoon train back to the city leaves me no time to make a sandwich, and so I have to go without lunch. Ugh!
Definitely knowing that this challenge is only for a week has been helpful in getting me through it. I’m grateful for the new insight and lesson in empathy. At times I realize it’s difficult to avoid hunger, to afford nutritious food. I certainly won’t look at the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables in the same way.
Next week I can go back to more options and more food. But for millions of Americans across the country this challenge is real. week in and week out.
One in four families - according to the Food Research and Action Center - worry about having enough money to feed themselves and their families. And for those who may get the help of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps, it still may not be enough to buy the minimum amount of food the United States Department of Agriculture says people need to survive.
What I ate this week
Previously: Could you live on $30 a week? | Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America | Childhood malnutrition has long lasting effects
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You obviously have no idea the amount of $ these people get on food stamps! My unemployed sister and her loser boyfriend who refuses to work and their 2 kids get $860 a month. It's rediculous. They're buying crab legs and shrimp and then selling the rest for cash at a 50% value to the price of the stamps! They can buy pop, candy and anything else edible and not cooked, including Papa Murphys take n bake pizza and Scwanns. I've worked my whole life and make a decent wage but I can only buy shrimp and crab when its on sale. These people are not struggling to eat. A better comparison would be for our seniors on social security that don't get food assistance. Not people receiving "food stamps"
1) Get proof they are selling the food stamps. 2) Report them to the authorities. Please!! Do it for every tax payer.
I have reported them several times. Didnt make any difference. They still get the EBT card and $200.00 a month to blow on better food than I get. And all the beer and cigarettes they need. They trade $40.00 for others food for $20 in cash. Thanks Florida!!
you still have to have proof and they tell you they are doing this,please.
and you cannot buy cigs are beer with food stamps, the register shows what is being bought and if it does not qualify YOU have to pay.
OMG!!! $860 for a family of four! They must live like kings on $7 a person per day!!!!
haha No kidding.
A lot of misplaced jealousy in this forum.
Seriously learn some math - thats $7 a day per person. You're either lying or exaggeratting about your own family members. I wouldn't speak to you if I was her.
Jim, why are you so defensive? Are you on foodstamps or do you just let your "baby mama" pretend she doesn't know you're the dad so you all get foodstamps while you sell weed out the house? :)
Megan, why are you so rude? Are you jealous of people living off $7/day for food?
Also, why the racist "baby mama" comment?
Remember that food stamp kids usually get free lunch, and in some cases breakfast as well, at school.
There you go - those kids must LOVE living so luxuriously with FREE school lunches - what a bunch of leaches!
Jim...finally someone with some brains and heart in this thread.
Megan I can't agree more. When I was laid off from my job I was getting $1200 dollars a month for my wife and I and six kids plus I was getting $240 dollars for unemployment. I didn't even spend that much on food when I was working. I am glad I have a job now but that is why we have so many people that don't won't to work. FREE FOOD, FREE HEALTH CARE, PLUS MONEY FOR SITTING AT THE HOUSE (WATCHING JERRY SPRINGER LOL) AND THE GOVERMENT WILL ALSO SEND YOU MONEY IF YOU GET BEHIND ON YOUR UTILITIES. The whole system needs to be changed.
$1200 dollars is a lot of money in Food Stamps, so how about tying the tubes of your wife. Here we pay about $600. cash ( monthly ) for my family of five and can make it with what we buy with hard earned cash.
This article is untrue I work with the Food Stamp Program which is a Federal program. This means amounts are the same no matter what state. The maximum amount of Food Stamps for 1 is $200.00 and according to the article these figures dont match. I am twenty seven dollare over the income limit for four. I am a single mom two college students and a Jr High student. I use coupons that I sit and cut out, buy clearance products, skip meals, and see my customers in the store with full buggies.............STOP GIVING AWAY OUR COUNTRIES MONEY!!! What once was a great program has turned the USA into non working, lazy, fat, slaves to the system. The elderly and disabled receive $16 mostly.....now what wrong with this picture???
Miami-You are mistaken. I live in IL and previously worked in social services. I know for a fact of many consumers who received well over $200/month for 1 person household.
W ell thats the first I have heard of the max $200.00 a month allotment of F.S. being more................oh wait did you say IL Obama's state that says it all....................
megan, they aren't interested in what you and others have to say because it doesn't forward their agenda. this lady was all upset but was trying hard but still making pour choices, she should have bought legs and thighs instead of chicken breast, she should have grabbed a box full of ramin noodles for either a meal or a snack, at ten cents a pack you can't go wrong. when she was talking about jar sauce i was thinking make your own. $30 a week is not hard but it is not reflective of the food stamp problem, a family of 3 would receive $800 or more, you can do a lot of shopping for 3 people on $800 a month. but like i said that would not forward their agenda. i have been in that situation, i had a good paying job but was sidelined by a serious illness and didn't qualify for food stamps (although i don't know if i could have brough my self to get them) so i had to make the hard choices for my kids and myself. i became quite good at coupons and sales and my kids ate great. the problem is these people can never get off of the dole. a family of 3 would get over $800 in food stamps, free computer, almost free internet service, free housing, free cell phones, free school lunches, free school breakfasts, special interest rates on used cars, some states will pay for a car for them under $2000, reduced light and gas bills, free child care and don't forget they can still go to the food bank. if you add that all up you would have to give them a job making $80 to $90k a yr and why would they work when they get it for free, i am sorry to say.
I used to live in a complex where many lived on foodstamps. Maybe things have changed..but they ate much
better than I did. I was friends with one family and I would help with the groceries..they would have about a dozen
bags of food. I was just starting on my first job out of college..ramen noodles a few times a week. They had struggles
on many fronts..but food was NOT one of them
I lived on Food Stamp with my pregnant wife for a few month about 7 years ago and the two of use got over $400 on the card. We didn't know what to do with so much money so started shopping at Whole Foods. We ate great. Once off the stamps we have never been able to afford shopping there again.
I see people on food stamps buying stuff at gas stations with their cards(stamps) where things are twice the price so they can't be hurting too bad. I see them load up pretty nicely at the grocery store too and buy more stuff than I do. They get more than $30.
Even on $120 a month if you shop smart and use coupons you can get a really nice shopping cart full of food
nice comment they need to clip coupon spend time in the isles of the supermarket and find out what is on sale they buy too much junk with there food stamp because thay donot want to cook just go home and sit dowmn and watch jerry springer and maury all day and they wear the most expensive clothes if the govement could be a fly on the wall and see some of these folks life syle they would be off food stamp tommorow
You are supposed to use the food stamps as a assistance or a SUPPLEMENT to what you are paying out of pocket each month for food each month, not try to make your food stamps the ONLY thing getting food for you.
With a family of 5, I could receive almost $800 a month in food stamps (I qualify for them based on what I earn, we just have been able to get by without using them). That would be a huge increase in what we spend monthly on food. Usually we're around $300 a month for 5. That's the thing with food stamps, you're correct, they should be supplemental but at current levels for most people (families in particular), they more than cover monthly food costs.
Chicken breast, broccoli, and (brown) rice is my staple meal. That's great food however much money you make.
I am allergic to peanuts, so that really eliminates a cheap protein source. Jelly sandwiches don't sound bad, but they are not particularly nutritious.
Walnut butter is really good as an alternative – but it definitely not cheap. I make my 4 year old straberry/walnut butter "sandwiches" for dessert.
Check out your local health food stores. Many of them make in-house nut butters like almond or cashew. Those tend to be cheaper-by-the-pound than the prepackaged jars. Good luck!
beans are cheap.
Why is $30 a week hard? We often spend only $25/person. One just has to cook from scratch rather than buying processed foods. It is healthier and cheaper. Besides, after taxes we do not have a lot left over!
Those look good. Better than what I eat for lunch at work every day.
By the way if you want to eat better, WORK.
This is kind of funny how stressed she got over this $30.00 for a week of food. Is this a joke? Do people really not know how to make a real meal for a reasonable price? monica is right, this is not a big deal at all. I have a family of four, am a lousy shopper, no coupons and I feed on average my big eaters for about $150.00/week for the most part only whole foods.
Im curious which state this is being based on as in Ohio a single individual most make under the 130% gross standard of 1180 and the max amount of benefits they can receive is 200/mo. $30 dollars a week times 4.3 (average weeks per month) would equal 129. Which implies the individual is making some income or the amount allotted is different. Just curious as to each states different eligibility guidelines and deductions for earned work/rent/utilities.
All or most states are $200 a month for an individual. You are correct in wondering why the author was limited to $30 a week.
I am currently a medical student with a wife and two young boys. I pay around $45,000 in tuition a year, not including rent and living costs. My wife works from home for a PR firm, but given the current economy we are in, advertising has been hit hard. She brings in only $900 a month. Needless to say, we live on food stamps to help make ends meet. I do not understand why this article mentions that the average of those living on foodstamps only get around $30 a week? We currently get $418 every month, which is $105/week. We are not uneducated people who are unable to make healthy food choices. We cook using basic ingredients. I have a BS, MPH, and will soon be a practicing physician once my medical degree is completed. My wife has a BA in communications. What I am getting at is food stamps help those in need to make ends meet. My boys are able to eat nutritious meals thanks to the EBT debit card that we have, and they do not have to live on a Ramen Noodle diet since I am using the maxed out loans to make it through school. There are several other students at my school who also rely on food stamps to get through the costly educational process. Someday, when I am paying taxes on my professional salary, I will be giving back to those who are in need and will repay what I have used. I find that there is a discrepancy with this article, as several students at my school get well over $120/week in EBT/foodstamp benefits. Needless to say, I always take a "box lunch" to school and we rarely ever eat out. We consider food stamps a privilege to use, since there are so many in this country who go hungry everyday. Having gone through the process to get them, I must say, it is very difficult to go through all of the necessary steps to complete the process. This could hinder others with disabilities and a lack of education.
Maybe you could have waited to have kids until you had the income to support them?
I am 28 years old. The chances of costly disabilities and spontaneous abortions only rises once a female reaches 35 years of age. Since I am in my second year of medical school, which will be followed by three years of residency and possibly specialization, that logic would put my future kids into a high risk pregnancy situation, which could lead to costly medical care and hospital bills. Who are you to say I should wait to have children, especially when my wife is young and healthy enough to help take care of their needs? Maybe you should move to China where you are only allowed one child for your family? This is America, and I have the right to have kids when I want. I am not leeching off the tax payer's dollar, but rather, will be giving way more back into the tax dollar pool from my medical career, both in taxes, and free services that I render in the emergency department. Hopefully I won't see you in there anytime soon. I might just say, "why didn't you plan on having an accident later in life?" Life happens.
I did that...waited to have kids until I could afford them. Now, I'm 40 and too old to have them. Seriously, you never make enough for kids.
Excellent reply ! How about a little forethought ?
I'm so sick of the entitlement defense. "I'm young and healthy! It's okay if I have kids before I make enough money to support them, because the tax payer will support them for me." Who the hell do you think you are? You should either have picked a different lifestyle, or just decided not to have kids.
Could not agree more. I am becoming a first time mom in my 40's (yes, kids is healthy). I am financially secure and I do not have to work outside the home any more. I will not have to rely on food stamps, EITC, WIC, subsidized lunches, free daycare handouts etc. to have society pick up the tab for my personal choice of having a kid. A medical pro with two kids who claims that she is 28 y/o and had to make this choice because she ran out of time is full of BS. And no, I do not consider having children your right at the expense of others because this is America. I consider it a normal obligation to take of your own kids.
BJ-I have no issues for my tax dollars going to help out you and your family. You are using food stamps for the exact reason it was set up....as a stepping stone, rather than a crutch. It's a temporary thing. You won't be on them forever, and in the end, as you said, you'll be helping people. Bravo to you. Good luck in med school!
For Vicster- http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/trying_after35.html
This is just a brief explanation of the difficulties of pregnancy after 35. The CDC and NIH have more resources on this topic as well, but I just wanted you to check this out. This is in response to your response. Also, I am 28, male, and chose to have children early since I want to have a large family, and it is in harmony with my religion. Thank heavens we live in America which allows differing life-styles and choices to be freely made. The food stamp program is a tool that helps transitioning families during this stressful time. Someday I will repay my usage of EBT with my own tax money, as will the other members of my large family. Congratulations on your new child. You will find that there is no greater joy than raising a child, and they bring new feelings of completeness, happiness, and responsibility that is difficult to experience if you do not have one.
BJ I know at least where I'm from the allotted amount for a Single person is $30 a week in Food Stamps.
That makes sense. I looked past how different states would have various policies regarding the distribution of food stamps. I am just aware of how much we receive in our state. which appears to be slightly above the nation's average.
I understand where you are coming from, but perhaps the $30 is per individual, so it would be $30 each for you and your wife and $22-23 dollars for each child. Btw much respect to you and your family being an ideal of why the food stamp program is in place, as a method of support to those that need it, not to those who refuse to work.
From what was explained to me from my social worker, I did not qualify for the food stamp program, but rather my wife and kids did. That breakout does sound about right, though. At one time when my wife was in between jobs, we received $648 a month, but once she got her $900/month job, it decreased down to $418. Still, we would rather have the 900/month income than take extra resources from the government that could ultimately be used for other people. Our state has been hit especially hard with the housing crisis and lack of tourism, so there are many seeking assistance.
I am wondering what state you live in. My husband and I are residents of OR and we receive $75.00 a month on our EBT card. That's it. The rest of our food comes from a local church food bank, we receive a box or two of food a month. We very much appreciate it, but the food is low quality, highly processed, high sodium, etc., etc. Not the best stuff for sure. Whatever else we buy is usually from the salvage grocery store, what I call the "scratch and dent" store. Every penny of my husband's disability goes to living expenses and medical bills for what his Medicare doesn't pay and for my medical expenses (I have no insurance and have some health problems.) Please, please, please, when you start practicing medicine, be part of the solution to this country's problem with access to healthcare for the poor. Thank you.
It is sad how many people get so mad over tax payer money being used to feed people. Food Stamps truly assist people in need. I feel for family's medical situation. My mother had cancer and her treatments and care got to be quite substantial for my father. The current medical system needs further adjustments to provide better care for the poor, as well as those who can afford health insurance. It is such a complex issue that will take a lot debate and severe changes to how it all operates. The saddest part about it all, is that providing medical care to others is such a humanistic qualtiy, while charging them for services seems criminal. The insurance world has created a situation where medicine is becoming a business, rather than what it was created for, improving the life experience. Sadly, with medical educational costs and pharmaceutical research costs, finding a medium between the two is the difficult part. I hope to be apart of the change for the better, whatever that may be, but families like yours and mine included, will influence the way I give services towards my future patients.
I agree that waiting to have kids until you could suppor them may have been a good idea. I would also like to know if you plan on paying the taxpayers who are now supporting your family back once you become a physician?
Well, the thing about making more money than the average tax payer means you will be paying a higher tax, since you are in a higher tax bracket. A good friend of mine is a practicing Pediatrician. He makes just over $250,000 a year, and pays around 45% of his income in taxes (this is just a rough estimate). If he were to make less than $250,000, his taxes would be around 34%. Where is his incentive to see the extra 15 patients in the day when most of his earnings will go to Uncle Sam? The sad thing is, with the higher burden of taxes being proposed such as the "Warren Buffet Tax",which targets those making higher incomes, this will alter how hard physicians will work to fit in more people into their schedule. I will continue to work because I got into this profession not for the money, but rather to help people, but you must understand that while you ask how I will repay tax payers, I will be paying higher taxes than you and offering services in an E.R. to people who cannot afford it.
105 per week with two small kids makes for 26.25 per week per person which is less than the 30 dollars a week. What makes it easier is that you have $105 so you can get 4 times the options that a single person can get on $30 making it pretty easy to get a variety of nutritious food. I am in the same place as you and am very appreciative for the help that I get.
yeah, maybe he could have waited. I am sure there is a lot of things we all could have done differently, but did not.
He is studing and will have a good future. I would gladly pay for foodstamps for people like this.
If you can't afford to have children, you should not be having them. I'm also in graduate school (Ph.D.) and have worked my way through my masters program to avoid loans (sometimes only sleeping 3-4 hours a night in order to get homework done and go to class). I am postponing having children until I can afford them. I know people in med school who have had children. On top of not being able to financially support their kids, they just don't have the appropriate amount of time to spend with their child because they are too busy studying. In many cases, their parents or their spouse winds up raising the kid on their own. This is unfortunate. Honestly, what's the rush. You have enough time to procreate. Four years shouldn't put that much of a damper on your plans.
Interesting. There are many people in my class who do not have kids. That is their choice. I have a brother (family practice doc), sister (occupational therapist), sister (assistant attorney general), who have all managed to raise children THROUGHOUT the educational process and have them all turn out exceptionally fine. My cousin, who is the orthopedic specialist for the LA LAKERs, managed to do quite well while raising three kids during medical school. They contribute more to their societies than most would. Waiting to have children is your own personal choice, although it has been my experience at both George Washington and my current medical school that those who claim to put off kids while obtaining a PhD are really just covering for not being able to get married while living their busy life. That's just my experience. There are definitely exceptions to my experience with those seeking PhDs. Once again, like I said, chances of having complications during a pregnancy and having expensive medical costs increases as the age of the mother does. It was my personal choice to have kids at my age. My wife gets plenty of attention from me. When I am home from school and studying, I am focused solely on her and the kids, and nothing else. I make time for them.
You are so right. Not only are you financially responsible, you also realize that the most precious gift called TIME (not just 'quality' time) for your kid means you sensibly delay this choice.
vicster- I noticed how you said "kid". I want more than one kid. Maybe it's the scientist (think Darwinism) in me or simply my religion, but it's still my choice to have more than one kid. Also, when is there ever going to be more time to spend with your kids? I make time for mine. My wife is constantly there for them, as well. Once I start work, I will be working long shifts. Maybe according to your logic I should wait until I am retired to have a kid, so I can spend all day with them. To answer your statement, it is not about quantity of time, but rather quality of time. I make certain that my children get quality time with me. Also, once again, I have seen personal examples within my own family (brothers, sisters, and my parents) who managed to raise great children while in school. It works for us. The beautiful thing about all of this is that this is America, and differing points of view are welcome, as are lifestyles. Food stamps are there to help people during transitioning times and also to ensure that children get proper nutrition. I will someday repay my usage of this system with my own tax contributions. As will my large family.
BJ, is your wife that much older than you?? If the magic age is still 35, it appears you have a few years to go and could have waited to have kids until you could afford them! Although paying off those huge loans means it won't be any time soon. Too bad you didn't use the brain God gave you to do the math first.
I had kids at age 32 and 34, AFTER I had my bachelor's, master's and professional designation, along with a few choice promotions under my belt.
Finally, living in America means you are free to make poor choices, it does not mean the rest of us have to support you.
I've actually done the math. The sad thing about our current medical education situation, is that tuition has nearly doubled in just the last ten years. A doctor in 2000 graduated with half the debt as one in 2014. It does not take a genius to look around at all the CNN/news posts about states raising tuition to handle their debt issues. Sadly, I am going to school during a time in which tuition is at an all time high. Having been accepted into three schools, I chose the one with the cheapest cost of tuition, living expenses, and accessibility to my nearby family members. I have taken out the full loan amount to pay for the $42,000/year tuition amount, since it is impossible to make that much working during the summer months and during school, while maintaining an acceptable grade point average. I plan to take advantage of the Heath Service Corps money made available to doctors practicing in rural locations. I will follow the example of my brother and moonlight in the ER to pay back the debt in a hurry. I have things worked out. Like I said before, I have seen personal examples within my own family. I have done the math. I will repay my debts. I will have a family size that I deem appropriate. Thanks to the freedom of this country, I have the RIGHT to do this. If you would like to talk about more appropriate ways that we can save this country MORE money besides through food stamps, but rather through decreasing the costs of a medical education or changing the structure of our health care industry, maybe that would be more appropriate that discussing how many kids I chose to have as a medical student. I don't know. It seems like a bigger elephant in the room.
Shouldn't have had the kids if you are on welfare. It isn't our job to pay for your kid. That is your job. Thanks for sticking us with the bill. Just curious, once you are a bigshot physician, do you intend on repaying the SNAP money you received? yeah, didn't think so.
Where do you think it comes from? Taxpayers money. I will be contributing much more than my fair share with my higher tax bracket. That will go towards helping someone else who is in transition and needs assistance. That is how I will repay my EBT usage. Or it might be in the form of free services rendered to people without health insurance in the ER, that I will donate. Maybe you should stop being so mad at the cost of care for people who actually need it, and start focusing your attention to other areas, like the US giving Billions of aid to Pakistan when they are selling our secrets to China??? Or maybe the whole entire healthcare system? We are in a recession and our own people need help. Using taxes to assist them in a time of need is what Government is for. If you do not agree with providing food to people who are striving to make the country better (ie. helping to reduce the demand for physicians in rural areas), then there is something wrong with you.
Did YOU bother to read the post above yours in which he discussed that very issue? Obviously not. SO SHUT YOUR RUDE EFFIN' TRAP, YOU JERK.
Just to be clear, I was replying to Seriously, who very obviously didn't bother to read the post just above his own in which BJ detailed how he planned to repay the taxpayers.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment. I wish you all the luck in the world to be part of the change our society needs.
I was trying to keep an open mind throughout the doc to be's conversation, but then he went on to say that he would be paying much more than his "fair" share...at that point I have to admit I became somewhat incensed. I can tell you, I worked full time to put myself through colledge, lived in crappy places, had a child (unplanned) raised her on my own, still going to school and working full time, never asked for help from anyone, never went on any public assistance, nor would have ever considered it. Had a been more willing to, perhaps I might have made 250 grand a year, too; but when someone gets to where he is, partly off of the backs of the people, not because he needs it, but because he chooses it, I question that. And beyond the "more than his fair share,' I certainly hope he'll step up and donate a LOT, and realize how grateful he should be he has these options.
Guten Abend. I must apologize for my earlier comment. What I was trying to say was that I will be paying a lot of taxes due to the higher tax bracket. I am grateful for the assistance I am receiving and plan to give back (not only in donations, but services rendered, etc.) Sorry to have that sound so negative, that was not my intention. It is difficult to express my feelings on this subject sometimes since there seems to be so many angry people when it comes to assisting those in need. At some point in our life, we will all need assistance, whether that is trying to make it through school, after a disaster or unexpected event, or in a nursing home someday. You never know. I am just thankful for the support I get with my EBT and look forward to paying it forward someday.
Cindy, if you want society to change, you need to change too.
Stop trying to figure out how society can help you.......how can YOU help society.
Great post, except it might be better presented as how to shop sensibly no matter what your income.
Re: "The first two days are filled with periods of hunger."
Hunger is a good thing. Not starvation of course, but good old fashioned hunger, like you get after a hard days' work, is fine. Somehow as a country we've arrived at the notion that going hungry even for 5 minutes is a moral outrage. End result: we're turning into a bunch of softies.
I pretty much follow your "what I ate this week" diet every week, and in addition to keeping me thin and healthy, it lets me save loads of cash that would normally be spent on empty calories.
Absolutely! Made me wonder how much the author normally eats that hunger seemed so strange. My family of four does not spend this much on food, and we are not poor by ANY measure.
Yup, you got that right-on!
We as americans are so used to over eating its not even funny. What she listed that she ate would be like a feast to alot of people. America has really created a bunch of spoiled people who set their standards of living way to high. So think about the people who dont have ANYTHING to eat, the next time you complain because you didnt get to go out and eat, or your mom wouldnt let you supersize your combo meal.
This, my friends, is called poverty and it's spreading like wildfire. I almost cried reading this article because it's so sad that people have to live like this. I am not that bad off but I have to cut back big time in order to make ends meet. The recent rise in the cost of living is taking its toll on my paycheck. There's days I eat top ramen or starve. I pray for those who are in this boat and those who are unemployed. I've been there. It's hard and shame on our government for allowing it to happen continuously.
What's wrong with Ramen?
This is not the Government's problem alone. You need to read the comment directly above yours, and then you need to go visit Cambodia, rural China, India, and a dozen other countries where people have diets based on a single ingredient – rice, cassava, or potatoes – with a little fresh fruit or beans. Their growth is stunted from having such a limited range of food. This woman had peanut butter, chicken, and tunafish in a single week... nutrious protein every day. Most people live on starches... 70% of the average Egyptian's diet is BREAD. Quit whining. Americans are spoiled enough. And I'm owning up to being one of them!
Ramen or starve? If that is your choice, then maybe you deserve to go without a few meals a week ! A pack of Ramen (various flavors) can be used as a base for many dishes. Add some left over chicken, a can of tuna, a small amount of fried hamburger/sausage, toss in a small amount of a can/jar of marinara sauce. Or, add a small amount of meat, some frozen veggies, make your own alfredo sauce. Dessert? Take a break from that mentality unless you eat an apple (or seasonal fruit).
My wife and I typically spend $120 per week for groceries to feed ourselves and our six children. That comes to $15 per person. There are certain foods we do not often eat, but neither are we subsisting on rice and beans. While some items can be purchased cheaper in bulk, that is increasingly rare. We merely make prudent choices and look for deals. If we spent $30 per week per person, we would be dining on steak & shrimp quite often. Seeing the poor choices and wastefulness of other shoppers, though, I frequently shake my head and wonder how people so foolish make it in life.
They make it in life because they use their time to either work, plan their future or build skillsets instead of spending all their time changing diapers, cooking meals for 6 kids.
Or they are in serious debt and helping to increase the national debt as they rely on government programs because they do not know how to spend money wisely. My wife and I do not spend all of our time changing diapers and cooking meals. Frankly, running a house with six children is a lot easier than running a house with two or three. And we have both "increased our skill set"–between us we have earned eight academic degrees.
My father lived very well on $9 a week using coupons, store brands and shopping sales at stores within walking distance. He could certainly have afforded to spend more, but he enjoyed the challenge of spending as little as possible at the grocery store. He always complained about the people on food stamps buying salad from the sald bar at $5.95 per pound and selecting pre made foods and deli items. A whole chicken lasted him about a week and he always had cookies in the afternoon and a bundt cake or brownies made from a mix in the evening, which lasted him almost two weeks. He also practiced strict portion control to maintain his weight and his budget.
I raised 4 children on $365. a month for the majority of their lives. I worked, received food stamps and assistance. There is no expresso...store brand coffee....no chicken breasts....thighs, legs and wings. Beans...buy bulk pinto. Pasta sauce...what ever is on sale in a can or tomato sauce that you doll up with onion and spices. Chopped meat (hamburger) is a luxury. Ham is once a year. Turkey...buy them during the holiday and if your freezer is big enough buy two. One to thaw and eat one to keep for later. Bacon seasons everything. Can I live on $30. a week....sure can. Poor food is comfort food.
I forgot to add. This was 40 years ago. This was not a "lifestyle", this was survival. I have never "not worked". Always had a job. My husband abandoned us and I did the best I could with what little training I had. I am now a retired para professional in the medical industry. All of my kids are parents and some have had to use food stamps between jobs. All are professionals and military. I know there are those that have taken the welfare to the extreme. Third and fourth generation. That's not what it was established for.
You make an excellent point. There is a place for food stamps and other welfare. The point is to help people when they are down on their luck until they can get back on their feet. There is nothing wrong with that. I doubt all these stories about people living on lobster and caviar while on food stamps are true. There may be a little of that but it is probably not in the majority. Will someone please find some real statistics on this and not all of these useless anecdotal stories. Sounds like a lot of sour grapes to me.
@Rosaadriana – finally a voice of reason. Allocating 70% to raw ingredients? When you're a parent having to make a decision between getting your children 1 bag of about 2 lbs of grapes or 5 oranges for $6.00 that may last a few days + or choosing applesauce 6 packs for $2.50 that will last and all three kids can enjoy for the week or longer and make your budget last longer...the math doesn't add up for someone on a budget unfortunately. I highly doubt someone spent $50 on one lobster.
All of the people I see buying food with food stamps have rolls of cash for what the stamps don't cover. More money than I.
At the grocery store, I'm busy getting the food I need to buy. When I'm checking out, I'm busy paying for it. I don't watch to see how other people pay for their selections. More importantly, I don't care. It's nunnuhmybidness. Unless you're a cashier, it's nunnuhyourz, too.
This is very true, I have seen it many times. Many are able to abuse the system.
I work in Social Services and I can state definitively that most people on food stamps are only on them because of choices they have made. It’s a lifestyle. They all commit fraud and either use the food stamps to buy junk food or sell them outright. I know nobody will believe me and call me cynical and evil, but I suggest you work at a Child Protective office for 6 months and then tell me I'm not right.
I believe you, food stampers I see have wads of cash in their pocket. ALL OF THEM I have seen use a roll of cash for what the stamps aren't good for.
Not stable enough to deal with banks, or they distrust them. They make more poor decisions by going to check cashing places that charge 10 – 25percent to cash the check, and then keep the cash with them.
I worked in social service for about 10 years, and you're not right.
You must have worked in LaLa Land.
I HAVE WORKED FOR SOCIAL SERVICES IN TWO STATES AND LA LA LAND FOR REAL BECAUSE FOOD STAMPS ARE BEING ABUSED AND THOSE WHO NEED THEM DONT GET THEM.............LA LA LA
Pardon me whilst I bow down to your 6 months of experience. What you'll find, if you open your eyes and your mind a little, is that the people who are in your face demanding to suck the system dry every singe minute of every day are NOT the majority. The people with "wads of cash" are NOT the majority. Yes, many people abuse the system and it absolutely needs and overhaul. No, that isn't even close to the majority. The majority are the people trying to swipe their EBT card while no one is looking, and absolutely dread having to drive to the public aid office...but they have to support their children. But thank you so much for your witty repartee.
That is not the case in the city. And my wit is not to be challenged.
Rebecca, I have been in the field for over 10 years so please reread what I wrote. I’m simply saying that 6 months of your own experience will change your flimsy liberal ideology to match mine. I don’t know what department or location you worked in, but it sounds like you were in the mollycoddle unit in La La Land for sure.
A girl I worked with was going through some hard financial times (because she spent all her money on material stuff and couldn't pay her rent). She went to social services and they put her on a 3 month temporary food stamp program. The next day the office was filled with cookies, pop, doughnuts, and other treats. She wanted to celebrate her new food stamp success with everyone. I was furious!!!
It is always nice to see good people make good decisions.
I also work in Social Services, and I can say that you should find a new job. I also keep wondering how people "sell" food stamps, since they aren't stamps anymore, but are credit cards that you can only buy food with. I know some people do buy food and exchange it for drugs etc. but their number is rather small because most dealers do make enough money to feed themselves.
They go to the local corner stores and “buy” a bunch of product, whatever adds up to the amount on the card. The store owner gives them the $ reimbursement and the “customer” walks out with $ and no food. The store owner just got free product on his shelves which he will have technically sold twice. The only one losing out on the deal is the naive tax payer.
Of course that's mathematically impossible. I he gives her the amount of the purchase in cash how does he have any "free" product on the shelf?
I can explain how they sell their EBT credits, as I get this pitch almost everytime I go to the grocery store. They offer to shop with you and use their card to pay for your groceries and then you give them cash equal to 50% of the total bill. This is usually accompanied with a hard luck story about how they are in the area to help a family member with an emergency (abusive spouse is most frequent one I get) and now they have run out of gas and don't have any cash. Another thing that happens here in NY is that they use the EBT card to buy soda in returnable bottles, empty out the bottles and then return them for the refund. My son in law, who grew up on food stamps, had to clean up after one of these incidents when he was working at the grocery store, it gave him a different perspective on the stamps when he realized that he was cleaning up his tax money that had literally been poured down the drain. On the other hand I know several people who have been very responsible termporary EBT card users, I'm glad we have a program that helps those in need, I just wish there was less fraud.
I agree... I work in the law enforcement area [although civil side] and I see that most of these people do bring this on themselves. I can tell you that my family of 3 grocery shops for a full week; 7 days, for $75. We are in metro ATL. That is breakfast, lunch and dinner all days. That pans out to $25 a person a week. If we can do it and eat healthy veggies and fruits then anyone can! That is not boxed meals, I cook all of my dinners, no hamburger helpers here! :o) so I AGREE!
I am a 17 year old girl who has 5 siblings and I am the oldest. My father has no income. My mom doesn't work and my step dad is trying to go back to school. We live off food stamps, my fathers childsupport check and my social security and still it is not nearly enough. All our meals are planned out there is no room for snacking each item goes to a specific meal. There are no outings because we can't afford to go to a movie unless we want to spend that week without electricity. Everything is budgeted. We manage to scrape by ONLY because my grandfather helps us out but I can not imagine what life would be like if he was not giving us money. And maybe most people are on foodstamps because they made bad choices, I can look at my mother and tell you I'm 100% sure thats the case but what about the children? Should I have to pay and go hungry because my parents were irresponsible? Should I have the pressure of my brother and sisters education, doctors appointments and meals on my head? Should I have to worry that we don't have enough money to pay the bills? No. I'm 17. But I do worry. My mother had me at 18, he life was messed up from the start but mine shouldn't have to be. And I live down the street from some kids who literally walk bare foot in the winter because there mothers "job" is selling hand made jewelry downtown and she doesn't care enough to buy them clothing or food and DHS has not stepped in for that situation. I don't want to hear the bullshit that our government tries to help, because they don't. The children are the ones suffering in these situations, who cares about the parents. They are adults, but as a child growing up in the environment is affects our futures. In my situation my parents do the best they can despite the circumstance but what about the kids down the street from me? What reason would DHS have for not taking them away from that drug infested, cockroach ridden house? If you don't live in it, you don't know. Thanks.
There are many who need the assistance, and it sounds as though your family is one. For those who do not abuse the system, I wish them the best of luck. Also, I would agree with you. The “government” does not care about actually helping people. My job and others in the social welfare system exists only so that politicians can appear to be trying to help the greater good. It’s a long standing political move to gain and retain constituents. If the goal was to actually help people, the system would be far different, or at least far more efficient. My gripe is with those who abuse the system, with those who have been enrolled in the social welfare systems or our nation for so long that they have not only found all of the loopholes, but those who have actually become accustomed to it, and have turned what is supposed to be a support system into a way of life. In my job, I find that the latter is far more common than those who truly need it.
Tom; I for one BELIEVE YOU. I witness firsthand the fraud and it infuriates me to no end! I've been out of work 4yrs, we have my husband's income and 3 children between the ages of 5-16 still at home. We're trapped in our house because of a horrid mortgage that we can't get adjusted (my shock that we earn $121.76 too much per month to have it modified) and we're strapped. I manage $60 on average per week in groceries (which includes household cleaning, paper products), and though it's a struggle, we're managing but it hurts. Now...our neighbors; a woman, her 2 kids, her boyfriend and his mother on the other hand have 2 1/2 incomes yet have a home they pay $267 in rent for per month (market value $1200 here in Las Vegas, NV) under Section 8 (who of course do not know that the "renters" boyfriend and his mother live there as they each use other's addresses and who make themselves scarce on the scheduled Section 8 visit days) and have nearly $800+/- in food stamps each month. On short months they buy a $300 food stamp cards from relatives in Omaha, NB for $150, other months they sell their overage. I can't count the # of times they've mailed that damn card back and forth from there to Las Vegas! Thinking they would be "helping us out" she's had the audacity to offer us the $300 for $150 "deal"...UMMM...no thanks, fraud wasn't on my Bucket List last time I checked. The abuse is blatant and a disgrace within the system!
Fraud is rampant. I work with many families where the children are counted at each “cousin’s” house on the block, parents claiming kids that aren’t theirs. The problem is that when people really do need it, they have all kinds of trouble getting it. It doesn’t pay to be honest in this country.
Unemployed for 4 years? get off your lazy ass...
Jenlyn what stops you from reporting your neighbors?
Sounds like it's time for you to get out of social services. You sound as though you have a bad case of burn out.
8 years of reality checks.
Someone like Tom is actually what we really need in social services. Unlike you, he is not in denial about the rampant fraud.
Someone who cannot even spell "annoyed" certainly can – and will – have their "wit" challenged!
Typos do not make me any less correct.
A tyop does not make me less correct.
HAHA, 'typo". Hey, its not like i'm running for president.
You may have your personal observations, but they do not apply 100% across the board. Do some people game the system? Absolutely. I don't doubt that. But not everybody is committing fraud. Did you report those you saw so as to put a stop to their activities? If not, why not?
Making generalizations will get you challenged every time. And you gotta admit, you left yourself open for that one...
I also work in social services and I can say that Tom is right. Generalizing is generally wrong, but the social welfare system attracts leaches. Those with self respect that need it try not to apply. Some do, sure, but most on the system are $avag3s.
"Self-respect" is all very well, but if you've lost your job, or are disabled or elderly, it doesn't put food on the table or a roof over your head. It's about Survival, plain and simple.
They all commit fraud? You are a liar. I won't comment on your wit – you did that yourself with your inclusive language.
I was in no way inclusive and I am far from being a liar. But your liberal sensibilities are heartwarming.
Food Stamps? I thought public assistance uses EBT cards (am I wrong?)?
I agree, when I was in college I passed on the meal plan to save money. I ate Ramen noodles, rice, chicken (if you buy the packaged frozen chicken breasts or whole frying chickens you will save money) and potatoes. I did splurge on $9.99 Natural Ice 30 packs (which might last the week).
Yes, beer can be cheaper than soft drinks. A liquid diet isn't so bad once in a while.
Chris where do you live? Here in NJ a single person can only get $16 a month in food stamps.
Only $16 a month for a single person in NJ? That's not true, the limit is $200 a month for a single individual. That's pretty true for most states. I'm not sure why this article limits it to $30 a week; you should be able to spend $200 a month.
Yes it is true. In NJ if you are a single person, WITHOUT any income, disabled, mentally incapable then you can get around $200.00 a month in food stamps. Since i have a income from unemployment i only qualify for $16.00 a month. Welcome to NJ!!!!
$16 isn't worth the paperwork.
That was my first thought when they told me i was only getting $16 a month, then one of the caseworkers explained to me that if i don't find a job and my uneployment benefits run out then i would automatically receive between $100-200 a month because i no longer have the income. So i decided to keep the $16 just in case that does happens!!!
This is crap. I work at a grocery store as private security and the people who are on food stamps, especially the ones that shouldn't be on them, eat a heck of a lot better than i do! Steak, shrimp, and lobster! Buying oer $300 at a time of it just pisses me the f-off!
So then quit your job, go on food stamps and eat like you think they do.
If you work at a supermarket regularly, then you should have noticed the same thing my brother did when he worked at one as a cashier, something he called "first of the month syndrome". People getting government benefits go shopping in the first 3-5 days after the first of the month. Many times they have to arrange transportation specially so they can get to a real supermarket, because they live in neighborhoods where there aren't any supermarkets. Because of this, it's not unusual for them to buy their entire month's worth of groceries all at once, hence the overflowing and/or multiple carts. Hence also the bills in the hundreds of dollars – they may be spending nearly all of their monthly allotment at once.
I've seen this myself. I've watched people pull out a large amount of cash to pay for the stuff food stamps doesn't cover – from the government envelope their AFDC or unemployment check came in. Yeah, I've seen women come in and do this with tons of kids in tow, and take their groceries out to nice big Lincolns and Cadillacs. I personally knew a number of these people; they had no furniture in their apartments, they had only one or two outfits (frequently a "daily" one and a "church" one), the kids had one and only one pair of shoes, etcetera, but they had a recent model luxury car because the damn car was more important to them than buying books for their kids, or having a bed frame for their kid's mattresses to sit on, or lamps in the kid's bedrooms, or a real set of dishes to eat off of, or a dining table to put them on. It was common for the only furniture to be a stand for the TV, but they were so damn proud of the car, which was usually bought used and paid for over the longest possible time. Somehow, to a lot of them I knew, having a nice car, no matter what else they didn't have or how much government assistance they were getting, meant they weren't "really" poor.
These people were guilty of making terrible choices in life, and their kids were usually being raised in such an intellectually impoverished environment, that they didn't have a prayer of escaping their poverty. The worst part was that most of these people were poorly educated and poorly parented themselves, and were passing on these circumstances to their kids, mainly through ignorance. A lot of them that I met originally in high school were not bad people; they were victims of an impoverished environment themselves. Back in the 70's and 80's I could see it was becoming a multi-generational pattern. The only thing these people knew really well was the "benefits" programs that were available, because they had been getting them since they were born – literally. They don't know any other way of life, because their parents also lived on government benefits all their lives, and there was nobody to teach them independence, or self-reliance, or the value of a good education.
These kinds of people do exist; but, and this is an important point, they are NOT representative of EVERYONE getting some sort of government assistance. There's no question that these programs need overhauling; people should not be on these programs all their lives unless they're disabled or a senior citizen. People should not have their benefits increased if they get pregnant AFTER they have begun receiving benefits, and family planning counseling should be mandatory and birth control free. For those on SNAP, nutrition education and classes in meal planning and shopping should be mandatory, and soda, candy, and certain other highly processed foods should not be covered. One could go on and on about what should be; but unless and until CONGRESS GETS OFF THEIR COLLECTIVE BUTTS and decides in a fair and balanced manner to do what is right for the country, nothing will get done. People DO sometimes need help, and it should be available to them. In the meantime, characterising everyone who receives "food stamps" or other forms of assistance as lazy good for nothings, who are gaming the system and committing fraud to live high on the hog, is inappropriate and unhelpful, to put it mildly. Many people who worked hard all their lives, and didn't make irresponsible choices, were hit so hard by the recent recession that for the first time in their lives they need their government to help them. This does not make them bad, lazy, con artists or irresponsible and it infuriates me when they are called and/or treated as such. That's what pi**es me off, frankly.
Interesting point about the big expensive car, and not one I had thought of. I believe it was Will Rogers, back in the 1930's, who said that Americans would be the first people in history to drive to the poorhouse in their own cars. We may not have poorhouses anymore, but the general idea is the same. "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Now, personally, I don't *care* about "status symbols." I care about being comfortable and happy. I think more people should share that view.
Nifty experiment, but not realistic. Food is the one thing we provide in ample amounts to people below the poverty line. Why do you think so many poor people are overweight? $30 a week more accounts for the "I make JUST too much money for food stamps and low cost healthcare" crowd. They're the people riding the line so thinly that it's an easy consideration to want to earn less money because they had more cash in hand. A re-vamp of the food stamp rules is in serious order. It would be nice to let people purchase some non-perishables like toilet paper, but disallow things like Twinkies. Anyway...nice article, but not based in reality, even if it makes you feel better about "seeing what it's like." You don't see, and hopefully never will.
I had to smile at this; I lost my job of 29 1/2 years forced out on an early medical retirement. I did check to see if I was eligible for food stamps, we were having such a hard time adjusting with the unexpected lowering of my income. I still had children at home, sole support. What I found was I made $28.00 too much per month to quality for $225.00 worth of food stamps. I had to switch to a cheaper insurance and skimp as much as possible on Dr. visits and medications. I've always been frugal, but switched it up to a new level, and am so glad I didn't quality and have to go through the humiliation and the judgements that abound around food stamp receipients. I think the new skills I've learned have given me even more of a sense of accomplishment, and I love sharing with others; I started a blog about frugal living, I'm busy all the time, keep active, learned to do all kinds of things, tile, hang doors, lay wood floors, all things I would have paid others for in the past. What a happy disaster this has all turned out to be – I can take 50 dollars and use that same money over and over with coupons and rebates. I can go to cvs and get Oil of Olay body wash, get my money back on ECB's and rebates, take that same money and buy something else. I go to walgreens and get free razors, then take their register returns to cub and buy groceries with those coupons. If I buy, for instance, 10 cereals on sale with coupons, I'll pay about $10.00; I can turn in the 10 boxtops to Kellogg and get a $10.00 gas card. All this saving is fun, and I live better now than I ever did when I made twice as much and scrimped all the time...
One more comment, Rebecca, I think so many people are overweight because of the quality of the food they eat, and perhaps poor ideas about that food (some put out by the government as well as by the food industry), as well as psychological and/or physical reasons. Depression makes it very difficult to make good jusdgements about food, and great difficulty in managing money, groceries, etc. There are a lot of people with depression on food stamps, and if they weren't depressed before, well skinking that low can certainly trigger that. And there are a lot of people with physical issues, as well, on food stamps, excasberated by eating poor food...seriously, It's hard to want to go for a jog or a run when you feel bad about yourself, or are in situations that are diffiuclt. And if you can't go out to eat at a nice restaurant with really good quality food, where would you treat yourself for a dinner out? McDonalds or someother place with a dollar menu? And if you can't afford a movie, or a concert, or a museum, or even bus fare to the museum, even on "free" night, or to go out to happy hour with friends, to go shopping, or bike riding, or a drive in the country, an outing on a boat or a snowmobile,scrapbooking supplies, or even a camera, maybe you'd treat yourself with some chips and a couple pops at home and a netflix? It just gets worse and worse in a huge downward spiral.
Thank you for your insights, you have restored my faith in mankind.
You have to be kidding me. Here in Florida I know 3 people who make a decent living, no bills because they live with friends and get $200 a month, a piece. They eat better than I do..in fact they trade off buying other people food for alcohol and smoke money. My tax dollars at work. They love Obama's new plan. Do nothing and get paid for it.
As much as you would like to think so, the food stamp program has nothing to do with Obama. It's been like this for decades.
"They love Obama's new plan. Do nothing and get paid for it."
Sorry, moron, what does Obama have to do with it again?
Um, actually this was a Republican plan from the 60s, back when the party wasn't steered by morons, or is that mormons? I can never tell witch. Get it? WITCH! ha ha ha ha aaa hum. Burn the Witch! ha ha ha ha. Which witch? lol lol lol. The liberal witch! bwahhhhhh ha ha ha ha! Hey, wait.... I'm not a witch, I'm YOU! bwahhhhhhhhahahahahaha I guess I should be more careful, otherwise that momma grisly will eat me..... Get it? Grisly – Grizzly Owe knows, I'm go'in rouge. Get it? Rouge i.e. republican make up aka rogue. As in rouges just make it up! Ohhh this is too much fun.... ha ahahahahahaha I stop for now. Whhheeeee look at me, I'm a COWBOY!!!
Turn them in, James, preferably in writing. It can be annonymous
Food stamps weren't meant to be the sole food source- it's a subsidy to help out. In a worst case scenario, it's still a great safety net that keeps those at need from starving. It's a great program that fulfills its purpose. We need to stop beating up these programs and look for additional ways to empower and employ our citizens.
As a historian, I fear there are only two instances in which "full employment" exists. One is when there's a World War on and 80% of the able-bodied men are off fighting. Two is when you're trying to conquer a frontier and having to build a society from scratch, as in the Old West. Neither condition currently obtains.
This is not accurate. I know a mother with 3 kids in Kentucky getting 700$ a month in food stamps.
I would think it is easier if you have more people in your family. We would get $120 per week for our family of 4 and we could live on that. Although I am not sure where the author got their allotted number from – I know a family of 4 on food stamps and they get $700/month, which is enough to eat very well.
So sad! Tap water? How ever did you survive?
I don't find this accurate where i live people on food stamps eat better then me.. i see stakes in there carts and alot of other meat that i couldn't ever afford like shrimp and ribs.. this is not accurate at all.
"Stakes"? They have vampire issues?
And that's why you shouldn't do grocery shopping at night. I hate when people waste government money on stakes for vampires. It's all Obama's fault; I bet he's a vampire.
do you mean "steak" in "their" carts?
You saw meat and assume it was a nice cut of steak. Trust me, you could probably afford the same cuts. Also, these people are likely cutting up that meat and putting it in a dish so that the one steak will feed their whole family.
Jessica darling... It all depends on how you cut costs. I am on food stamps and I eat Lobster and Shrimp more than anyone in the world I believe. And this is how: I DON'T EAT AT MCDONALD'S EVERYDAY!!! I was raised eating seafood for protein not fast food for fat. Aplaud me for being healthy instead of degrading me for not living as you require "food stamp recipients" to live. MEDIUM LOBSTER TAIL $4.99, 1 LB OF COOKED SHIRMP $5.00...your health PRICELESS! (and I have two children) One meal at McDonald's is over $7.99 per person, add a salad to my purchase for $2.00 I can feed my whole family on a hot summer day!!!!!! TRY IT...YOU CAN AFFORD IT (so hush)!
haha I dont even eat this good and im far from needing food stamps, i guess people dont have it all that bad after all
Yeah, I've seen people at the grocery store buying with food stamps. They are almost always twice as big as I am and buying all sorts of junk food.
Lately at work I've been seeing folks buying Pizza Hut, Shakey's, and other delivery food with their EBT cards. You can also drive thru places like Jack-in-the-Box and other fast food drive thru's and use EBT cards! First of all that food isn't all that healthy. Second of all, I have never received any assistance even when I was in school...and I cannot afford to be ordering pizza, hot wings, and bread sticks at work! I also have seen EBT cards are accepted at Costco now. I've seen those folks in line, buying flat screen tv's and tons and tons of other stuff, plus a take out pizza at the end! What is the motivation to get a job and get off of food stamps...NONE! Some are also getting housing assistance and school tuition... and day care assistance...it makes me feel like I'm the fool sometimes, why am I working so hard?
Sandra, why are you going to sit here and lie? You know darn well that you don't see such things. It's illegal. The government WILL NOT PAY restaurants EBT funds. They can't even get set up to TRY to accept EBTs. Even if the business tried to get set up to accept food stamps, they would be denied by the government because they do not sell GROCERIES. Hot/prepared food does not qualify for EBT purchases. So no Pizza Hut, no fast food.
Sandra is not lying. Apparently the rules have changed and you can buy prepared foods now. I couldn't believe it, but I have seen it myself. They use the cards to buy candy, cokes, sandwiches, all kinds of junk. It's terrible.
I think what Sandra is referring to is the food stamp cards that also have cash allowances. Some states, probably most, put both food stamp and cash allowances on one debit card. Food stamps are not the only type of government assistance. And yes, I've seen the credit card machines at fast food places in Texas that also allow the "lone star" (Texas version of food stamp and other welfare) card.
Sandra's not lying. California is one such state that you can use your EBT card in almost ALL the fast food places.
Sounds like you did the best you could with what you had. No feasting, but no starving either. Bananas are cheap too, so that might have been a nice break to your applepalooza once in a while. At least you chose fairly healthy, filling foods like beans, peanut butter and apples. The lack of variety alone would be a good motivator for me to get off food stamps altogether.
Agreed. Bananas are 55c per pound. Apples are about $1.60 per pound right now.
Girl, apples are free if you can find a neighbor with an apple tree! Free for us around this time of year! OMG!
Bananas and milk prices are on the rise! And if egg prices do NOT come down soon, I'll be raising my own hens! lol
I could eat #5 everyday, that made me hungry just looking at it. To be honest, i could survive on $30.00 a week that's alot for a single person. But if you have a family it might, no you can still survive, as long if you know how to budget. No T-bone steaks, that's for sure!
I'm wondering if
1) You actually look at how much money you yourself spend on food because that's not alot by any means, even most women eat more than that.
2) You have any understanding of the fact that not all people's dietary needs are alike.
I could never live off $30 a week for food. I would be in the hospital in a month's time. I spend about $500 a month on food, which comes out to more than $100 a week. When I lived in an area that had good grocery store competition it was easier to get good deals by looking for coupons and using bonus cards. But those options don't exist where I live now, unless I want a free roll of toilet paper for buying 6 gallons of milk or some other nonsense like that.
And I'm not a heavy guy either. I only weigh 160 pounds and am average height. But what can I say? I have a very high metabolism, and I work hard at my job burning alot of calories. I can't help it, if I don't eat alot of food I wear down very fast and can't hardly do anything. I'm responsible with what I buy. I eat alot of pasta and reasonably priced things. I usually cook every few days, and make enough for two to three days at a time, and eat leftovers. About the only "splurge" I allow myself is buying boneless chicken breasts because I hate picking through bones for my meat. I only let myself have steak maybe twice a month because I worry that with all the food I eat that despite my very good health that maybe I should minimize red meat just to be safe.
Everyone is different. But $30 a day is pretty skimpy for most people.
I'm always amused by the accounts of how difficult it is to get by on food stamps. Perhaps that's true for a family with kids. However, where I live, a single person gets $46 per week ($200 per month) and I had no difficulty eating well spending this amount. I didn't purchase as much meat and ate more soup. I ate both fresh and frozen veggies (lots of fresh spinach).
So donnez-moi un break.
Then go vegetarian. Meat is pretty expensive. As a veggie I routinely save huge amounts compared to my omnivorous friends, on the weekly shop. You don't have to be a dreadlocked stinky hippie to be a veggie. Regular people are too.
On the other hand, some people cannot do well trying that. After two years my health was in shambles. I was always hungry, couldn't eat enough to curb my appetite for more than a couple hours. It was ridiculous. Everyone's dietary needs are different.
Yes, I could live off of $30 a week for groceries, because I know I could get a whole basket of fresh fruits and vegetables for $10, a whole roasting chickens for $6, a bag of brown rice, wheat bread and other items with the rest of the money. I would use coupons and do whatever else it took to keep from going hungry. I am single, so it would work for me. I'm quite sure the food stamp funds increase for a larger family. Never been on food stamps, but I glad it's around to help those in need.
Bravo for fostering your inability to step outside your little world and see what's going on around you. Bravo.
This is such BS. My husband and I usually have a $60-$85/week grocery bill and we don't eat like poor folks. For $30-42 per week per person we never go hungry or eat this kind of processed crap. We also grow our own vegetables and herbs, and it astounds me how many unemployed people would rather watch Jerry Springer than plant a garden.
Perhaps many of these people don't have a place to plant a garden? Your suggestion assumes available soil.
I lived in an apartment for 8 years and had a balcony garden. There are community gardens, kitchen-counter gardens, etc. It's not for everyone, but most unemployed people I know have the space and don't use it.
oh, you think eververyone who has an apartment has a balcony. Uh, no.
And where in the inner city is a person supposed to create a garden? You think asphalt makes a good soil? You live in the country or a suburb with large yards. Even some of my neighbors don't have enough land around their home to really make a decent garden. You are the decider of who is or is not lazy.
asphalt?....um container gardening.....
If you live in the city you usually have close access to stores.
I have the luxury of being able to garden, but the disadvantage of living away from the store.
Everyone has advantages and disadvantages.....you make the best of your situation. If it's important to you, you find a way. If it's not you find an EXCUSE.......
But what *kind* of stores? As I understand it, people in the Big City don't have access to supermarkets (because real estate is so expensive that no one builds them there). They have to shop in tiny little local markets which don't have the purchasing power of supermarket chains, and so charge more and have limited stock. Now, out in Suburbia the supermarkets are everywhere (I can get to at least six, if I'm willing to spend time on busses), but not in, say, Manhattan, or San Francisco.
Spot on Molly!
I probably need to survive on this to lose weight.
According where you live, you could eat very well on $30/week. But it takes buying fresh and preparing the meals yourself. Stay away from prepared foods. You'd probably end up eating less, but far healtier than what most Americans eat.
Where you live makes a huge difference. Especially in the fresh fruit and veggie department in some cases they cant be obtained at any price you simply have to have bus or cab fare to acquire them.
I fail to see how this is any big accomplishment. When I was on food stamps, it was a step up for me compared to how I was eating previously. I actually struggled to use all of the money each month. I bought a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, other healthy things, and almost never brought frozen or pre-packaged meals.
I'm single and working...thank goodness for that. However, my budget and income are almost nil. I"ve trained my body to survive on one – two meals a day. Pasta and Sandwiches. Food is all I think about when I'm at the office. Ironically I pay more each month for the previlidge of taking transit to work than feeding myself to be at work. Somethings got to change.
Go to a food bank. Preferably before you die of starvation or scurvy.
I can say from personal experience – DO NOT DO THIS. I'm 80 pounds under weight (6'5, 145.6, supposed to be 220) from this behaviour. I have only just recently reversed my body cannibalizing itself. Don't be a fool – get on food stamps. YOU CANNOT SURVIVE ON 800 CALORIES A DAY.
For the love of heaven, go apply for SNAP/foodstamps IMMEDIATELY. If food is all you think about at work you are starving!. LITERALLY. If you are not consuming at LEAST 1800 calories a day as an adult man, you are malnourished. And please, it may seem hard, but splurge on a decent multivitamin immediately! It could just save your life! Scurvy and beri-beri (too little Vit.C and B vits respectively) are not jokes. You can die from them. If you don't qualify for SNAP for some reason, locate a community food bank ASAP. PLEASE!
Hope things get better for you – in all seriousness. Please take better care of yourself!
Maybe they ought to start feeding this diet to the morbidly obese. Then we won't have to pay for their weight loss surgeries with higher insurance premiums!
AMEN! But, idiots would say that is cruel punishment, so are those fat slobs.
I'm not sure where you got your #s from but in NY a family of 4 (2A2C) get 492/month last I checked. In addition, the 2C get free lunch program and free breakfast at school. Those on food stamps in my state are able to eat very well.
$492 X 12 (months) / 52 (weeks) / 4 (2A2C) = $28.39
You do realize that is 30 per person per week, the same that the author spent.
wouldn't that calculate to $1560.00 per month?
alternative, if the 2C do use the free meal for breakfast/lunch 5 days a week, that leaves $2.10 per each meal per person
1 person living on 30/week is not a ton of $$$, but the majority of people on foodstamps are families. Do this article again with a 500 food budget for the month and you'll see just how much that really is. The average family spends way less than $500 a month for food.
Well let's do the math. A family of 4 with a food budget of $492 a month comes out to $123 a person, $4.10 for each person's daily food allowance ($1.37 per meal). Those 4 people over 30 days consume 360 meals, or 84 over 7 days. On person consumes 21 meals over 7 days. So, that comes out to $28.77 a week for one person.
Free school lunches are hardly adequate meals to begin with. But let's say that the two kids get 46 meals a typical month (23 free lunches for each child). That means the family now only provides 316 meals over 30 days, and 74 meals in a week, from their food stamps, or $1.56 per meal. At that rate, their 74 meals budget is $115.44, or $28.88 per person per week.
Good luck to you to try to budget yourself only $1.56 per meal.
Good point. I think a lot of these people are taking their own problems out on others and making conclusions without getting all the facts. Well ...and they obviously can't do math either.
Ok then, how many people in your family and how much do you spend on food- not toiletries in a week? There are 2 of us in my household. We spend approx 250/month on food and I admit to buying LOTS of preprocessed foods and premade stuff. We eat beef once a week, chicken 1-2 times per week, pasta twice a week, and boneless pork once a week too for dinner. For lunch I buy frozen meals or pack leftovers. For breakfast my husband likes fiber one bars and I like cereal and juice. That leaves me 250/month to feed 2 children. If I had another 250 for food for 2 kids we'd be eating VERY well. If a family of 4 can't eat well on 500/month WHAT are they buying? 500 a month for a family of 4 is a ton of $$. What exactly is a 'fair budget' for food for a family of 4? The idea of spending 750 or 1K a month for food for 2adults and 2 kids is outrageous to me. I wouldn't even know where to begin to spend that kind of $$$. We'd eat like KINGS.
It depends on where you live!!! Do you live in Okalama? Where i live, it would be hard.
Oh Please. 65 per week per person is usually MORE than I spend. AND everything is healthy. You are just LAZY plain and simple
this is not accurate for what familys on food stamps live off of.... i have seen the waste given to these people. now being as its america those that may truely need it probably get the $30 a week while those that just pop out kids and are lazy living off of my taxes are getting way more than that and eat better than i can... thanks america
Exactly. In fact there here is a story about people in Jacksonville, FL using their ‘food stamp’ cards buying weave at a local shop.
AGREED! I'm aware of a few people myself that receive food stamps, and it's absolutely more than $30 a week per person! These families have a MUCH better shopping advantage than I do, and eat way better than me and my children. While IM the one who works 2 damn jobs to be able to live the life we have! It's sickening!
Many of these people are WORKING poor, holding down two and three jobs. And they may have had kids when things were good financially. Especially these days, a lot of people are one paycheck away from disaster. If you are short on food there are other options including church food pantries, fresh food giveaways (available to anyone, regardless of income) and discounted food (pay $15 up front and get $25-30 worth of food at month's end, again, no means testing involved.)
Yes, most of those people do have kids. But they have them regardless of their financial situation. That’s one of the leading problems. If you only make $8 an hour you have no business popping out 6 kids by 6 different deadbeat fathers.
The average size of a family receiving public assistance is 2.1 including the parent. It's a myth that everyone on public assistance has a horde of children.
I’m not sure where you live, but here in Florida it is no myth. I see it with my own eyes every two weeks when I go grocery shopping. I hear it walking in the mall. See it in news articles.(seen in my other posts). I believe you are confusing your statistics. The average FAMILY is 2.1, not the average family on food stamps. I might be wrong about this and I’m open to that. Please post where you got that number.
Maybe hysterectomies should be a requirement for food stamps? That's a joke, just in case you weren't sure and would actually support something like that.
I think he is referring to a single person with a $30 budget... not a family. I would never be able to feed my family on $30 and we are already pretty frugal.
I feed two for less than that, one a 19 year old who eats like a horse, and brings the rest of the herd around, sometimes! I work at it though. Last year I spent about 964 on all my groceries, personal items, cleaning items; several months we had five people living here, and I was so stocked up, I bought barely anything for the first five months of this year. I have a 12 strategy plan, if you're interested: http://frugalhausfrau.wordpress.com/
AND THEN – WHAT BURNS ME UP EVEN MORE – you end up behind them at the grocery store with their 2 carts full (shopping spree on us taxpayers!), see them pay with the food stamp/govt. card, THEN you end up seeing them in the parking lot still loading all their groceries into a nicer vehicle than you can afford to drive! This has been a "thorn in my side" forever!!!
Lol aaron, clearly you have never had a kid as they do not simply "pop" out. Seriously, many people had very adequate salaries, good jobs, savings, the whole nine yards BEFORE they lost jobs, or had severe medical crises not covered by insurance (lost with their former jobs.) It does not take much for a person to end up destitute these days and dependent on food stamps, among other assistance. And how in the world are the poor eating better than you can if you are working? Poor financial management? Spend it on electronics, cars, extracurricular activities?
Unfortunate that’s not what normally happens. Not everyone on food stamps is there because of their own doing. Like it or not however most are. It’s a lifestyle, a choice. Passed from one generation to the next. FACT is you get more benefits for the each child you have. An unwanted pregnancy is just a raise. You hear about it in the news all the time. Children running the streets unsupervised as young as 3 – 4.
Sean- If you see children that young running the streets unsupervised, call CPS and/or the police. You wouldn't believe how much it shapes people up.
Wonderful little project and all but food stamps are never intended to be your only source of food. They are a supplement. If you are that bad off you should be hitting soup kitchens and food pantries.
If you are that poorly off, you should be getting off your lazy butt and getting a job!
He's not that "poorly off". It's called "an experiment".
That is an easy diet. Mostly what I eat anyway, except for peanut butter – which I hate.
I bought a weeks worth of oatmeal for a buck this week. and a whole chicken is like 3 bucks. which should last one person 2 to 3 meals. you could make a roast chicken and make a chicken sandwich for leftovers. and frozen veggies are usually a buck a bag. and rice is ridiculously cheap. I don't know why this is an issue.
Where are you getting a whole chicken for $3???? The cheapest I can get one is $5-6.
Jen...you can find them on sale for a few bucks once in a while...buy a few and freeze them.
even if it's six bucks, if it provides you with three or more meals, then who cares.
You can get them for $3 at the Asian supermarkets.
Because of all the things you've just mentioned, there's just not alot of substance, even for most women's needs. As a man, nothing you've said there would hold me for even two hours, much less from meal to meal. Especially doing it constantly, day in and day out.
um, how is a chicken sandwich not filling?
Monica-I'd like to know where you bought a whole chicken for 3 bucks. And aaron–I invite you to visit any homeless or domestic violence shelter in America. You will see exactly who is "living off of" your taxes= vets, children people with mental health issues, people who didn't have proper nutrition growing up, and those lacking the education, training and aptitude to pull themselves out of there. Seriously-check it out. It's a lot easier to write your invalid opinions than it is to back them up with experience.
I totally agree. I can't believe this person ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Girst off jelly is simply empty calories. And espresso.......that probably cost 1/3 of the week's food budget. Stock with pasta, canned or frozen vegetables, non grand name soups and bread, hamburger, whole chickens that can be used for multiple meals, turkey polish sausage, stire brand cheese,etc. I can feed 2 for $30.00 a week easily (no coupons needed).
Espresso can be made on your stovetop for a fraction of what a cup of coffee costs. You're maybe talking 5-10 cents per espresso. Ask any Italian. Even at Starbucks an espresso is less than $2.
Don't forget the soup you can make from the chicken carcass!
its great training for this job market. I'm sure with the salaries they pay producers at CNN, $30/week is what the poster needs to spend on food in order to be able to save for a house or retirement.
I’ve seen SNAP, food stamp users, in grocery stores making poor choices like you admitted to. Maybe some nutrition and cooking education should be offered to these poor souls along with the food stamps. Making meals from scratch with inexpensive ingredients seems to be a lost art with the generation X and Y as the media has raised them to buy fast food and prepared foods decimating their pocket book and health.
I agree. Watch sales, cut coupons, learn to cook. There's been a few hard times in my life where I had to feed my family of 5 on that much! Literally no one I know on food stamps uses coupons or buys things on sale, or makes things from scratch! For example, I just bought four cans of Ortega black beans today for nothing using coupons.
Things are broken on several levels. 1. Food stamp users and all "hungry" people should be required to attend mandatory nutrition classes where resources and guidelines are shared. 2. With modern technology, stricter limits can be imposed for "food stamp eligible" items. A suggestion: 70% or more of each food stamp account usage needs to be allocated to raw ingredients like fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, oatmeal. The other 30% can be used towards other items. Thoughts???
One. A lot of FS recipients are "the working poor;" they may be holding down three jobs. They don't have the time or energy to "cook from scratch." While I agree that junk foods–especially soda–shouldn't be allowable ("hot, prepared foods" bought in the deli or supermarket *should*), FS'ers should otherwise be allowed to purchase what they like best to eat.
you just can't buy food from your food stamps, for example you can't buy a whole chicken thats already cooked for $5, you have to buy a raw chicken which cost more plus the oil and the energy cost of cooking it.
Yes you can. I've done that. You cannot buy a *hot* cooked chicken, as foodstamps does not let you buy 'hot, prepared food'. You can buy any cold prepared food you would like (sub sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, stuff from the deli, sushi, ready-to-bake pizza, even decorated cakes, etc). While I haven't experimented too much with deli food, I've realized recently that you can get a half pound of potato salad for less than a dollar! That's a nice quick lunch to have around, and I don'[t go through it fast enough to make it worth making a large batch myself.
It's not something I would recommend be done very often, since prepared food costs a lot more than making it yourself – but back when the rotisserie chickens used to be $5 it was a decent investment. That was not only a couple meals in itself, but leftover chicken for salads, snacks, and to add to a stirfry or pasta salad! Nowdays the chickens are smaller and cost closer to $8, so I don't get them anymore.
I live very frugally, and have even offered to help/share coupons with a young couple I know on food stamps, just to get them started. They had no interest. Later, I found out Instead they bought pop, sold it to the neightborhood kids at a profit, used that profit to buy beer, which they sold to the neighborhood kids, used that profit to buy drugs, and so on. The sad thing was they looked down their noses at me, but they'll probably never have a car that runs decently or a home, or any stability in their lives that comes from living in a neighborhood. I know they are a vast minority, but I also know a lot of people don't like to work so hard to save money. I feel sick if I go to the store without first having surveyed what I have, checked what;s on sale, gathered my coupons, made a menu and a list.
There is a program in Cooperative Extension that teaches people how to shop and cook on a limited income, it's called EFNEP (Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program). PErhaps it, or something like it, could be implemented as mandatory for people using food stamps. Who knows, it might could cut some of the junk food buying.
junk food?He didn't buy any unless you consider fruit junk food and programs are not always were you live also so many food banks are cutting back because of the increase
like what salt and pepper?
Bravo Sheila ! You did it! Thanks for the follow up post.
I could easily live on $30 per person per week because I watched my mother live on a similarly tight budget growing up. She fed a family of 5 by budgeting, planning, coupon cutting and knowing when to say no to her children. She showed me how and why it worked. If I had to, I could switch on that skill. I saw how hard it was on her to live like that and I work very hard not to have that kind of stress in my life – and I don't (knock on wood). My family lives well beneath our income just so we don't have to live hand-to-mouth in any aspect of our lives.
It's sad that so many young parents today weren't taught these skills by their parents years ago.
There is a key statement in your post that should be part of more people's lives:
>My family lives well beneath our income
There is plenty of true poverty in this country, but there is a fair percentage that just don't manage money well. I have plenty of friends, neighbors and co-workers who earn more than enough to live on but piss away money on things they don't need but feel they deserve. No one needs a BMW. If you buy one and then talk about tough econimic times, I will turn a deaf ear to you and also be more than a little offended when this type of stupidity derails a discussion on poverty and the very real problems that need to be addressed.
au contraire. Just by your comment and others, this article has brought an awareness of hunger in America to people that normally wouldn't think about it.
BMW are you kidding me, when you live on $30 a week you are not buying a BMW you are woried about bus fare that is going up all the time,give me a break!
Actually if you're disabled, you get to ride the bus for 75 cents. Transportation on the normal bus is actually cheaper than on Metro's ACCESS bus for the disabled, so I prefer to take it when I can. Also, King County distributes a lot of subsidized bus tickets to different agencies that help the low income and homeless, so there are options available. I think you call the community information line 2-1-1 to get assistance with that. Metro also was giving out 4-8 free tickets this year to each household, not sure if that program is still going.
BS, this is BS. it's very hard to do this even with coupons, buy one get one free etc. Who are you kidding? I've had to do it, and even with tight budgeting I can't do it.