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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My fiance and I are vegan, we spend about $50 a week for the both of us and we're just fine. We don't eat processed foods, fried foods, overly sugary or salty foods. Just a lot of fresh veggies, fruits, and grains/nuts/beans. I mean, for someone who's used to buying nasty processed food or eating a lot of meat it may be difficult but it's not for us...
No offense, but food stamps are not supposed to make up 100% of a household's food budget. They are intended to SUPPLEMENT a husehold's food budget. That's why the program had to be renamed the SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
If the author and any other recipients decline to contribute a portion of their other household resources or government benfits to their food bill, then they will indeed have a more difficult time subsisting. But really, who actually thought the government was going to give you a 100% subsidy? That's a little unrealistic. Food stamps are designed to make up 60 to 70% of your food budget, and that's pretty generous.
That is a very good point. Ms. Steffen used the $30 amount presumably because the national average for SNAP recipients (ie. those "on food stamps") is $133.79 per person per month which roughly translates into $30 per week. This is not the maximum or minimum amount or even the average for any specific state, but rather the program wide average. The calculations used to determine what a particular eligible family/person would receive include an assumption that if the family does have any source of income, after certain deductions are made, that they will still be spending a portion of this on food even though they are receiving SNAP funds. Probably not an accurate or even realistic assumption in all cases.
Yeah, she should buy food with some of that money she is wasting on rent and utilities, right?
Or medical bills and prescriptions or medical insurance and copays, the latter zaps a good portion of my budget, rent and utilities the rest and I don't qualify for snap which is fine but perry and all his walmart minimum wage no insurance jobs he wants to save america with are a joke. If stockholders canget rich off a company the least they can do is give insurance to their employees. The same for companies with owners living in million dollar homes...ruthless and cruel is what they are and their attitude is they are doing us a favor when without the working man/women they wouldn't be rich.
"Excess shelter costs" is one of those deductions I mentioned and includes both rent/mortgage and utilities. Again, I'm not saying that in practice this results in families necessarily getting help when they need it or as much help as they need but there is an attempt to take such things into account when calculating the amount people can receive. One of the things we are seeing in the responses to these pieces is that there are a lot of working Americans not eligible for SNAP funds who have less to spend on food than those receiving SNAP funds because they do not have those dedicated funds solely for food supplied by the government freeing up room in their budget for rent/utilities/child care) the way somebody on public assistance does.
And let's not forget about prescription medications...those copays add up
Eating off of $30 dollars a week is a breeze... if you've had to do it before. In this case, I believe she probably did struggle. If you're not used to it... it takes some getting used to. I applaud her efforts and am glad of the insight she now has for those who have to make it work.
Ok for all of you knocking people on food stamps. I am a single mother with a GREAT full time job and my own house, in which I pay all my bills alone!! When I moved I reapplied for food stamps and got DENIED! They say I make too much money now. Which is garbage since now i can barely feed my child let alone myself. I agree some people are lowlifes who abuse the system but I work my butt off and pay into it, so you better believe if I could still get it I would until i couldnt anymore. Why not get what I pay for anyways???
Apparently your full time job isn't that 'GREAT' if you can't pay for the basics of life.
Maybe you should rethink your budget before running to the government to help, if your job is so 'GREAT'
you chose to have kids and buy a house. too bad. I should not be paying for your food. I hate seeing people on stamps waste it on soda and cookies, etc. I am a college student with a full time job. I have no choice but to live off of about $50 every two weeks. Somehow, I manage. So should you.
I just wanted to point out one thing that might help.
It was awesome that you tried to do just $30 for the week using only the food you could buy with that amount. However, I think most people who get food stamps get their entire amount at one time. I, myself, spend around this much, maybe a little less, on groceries, but I do it two weeks at a time, so I spend about $50 or so dollars at a time. I think this helps a lot.
Should you try this again, I'd suggest doing it for a whole month using the $30/week rule, but spending the entire $120 at one time, or splitting it up into $60/2 weeks instead of $30 for one week.
The advantages this gives you:
You can get a larger bag of a meat or protein source that you'll use a lot of. For instance, If you love chicken, instead of getting just 2 chicken breasts for $4 something, you can get a whole bag of frozen chicken breasts for around $6 (depending on where you go. Some stores have them for $12.99, but have buy one get one free deals. If you have an Aldi's in the vicinity, they sell bags of chicken breasts or chicken thighs for around $5.99) This will make a number of meals, especially if you put together stews or casseroles where you can make a single chicken breast stretch further.
You can buy frozen vegetable in bulk for $6-12 a bag, depending on where you buy it and how big the bag is. This comes in really handy in providing the nutritious portions of the food.
You can buy larger quantities of things like bread (freeze what you don't plan to use right away), pastas, rice, oatmeal or cereal, which help to stretch out your meals.
It equals out to the same overall, but having a little extra at one time gives you a bit of an advantage in getting a variety that will last you.
Ok, more than one thing, because I wanted to suggest a few dishes that go a long way, with a lot less ingredients than you'd think:
Fried rice – super easy to make yourself. Cook an egg or two omelette-style in some vegetable or canola oil (or cooking spray). Once the egg is cooked, remove it from the pan and cut it into pieces. Then cook your meat of choice and veggies in some sesame oil if you have it (you can use any oil, but sesame tastes the best with fried rice, in my opinion), add in the rice and egg, and top it off lightly with some soy sauce. You can add all sorts of spices and flavors to it to fit your tastes, and any vegetables you like. The amount you make depends on how much rice you use, but you can stretch this into 2-3 meals using just one chicken breast or steak (or about 10 shrimp), and handful or two of mixed vegetables. You don't even really need to add a meat, even, because of the eggs.
You can make several other rice dishes in no time flat that are just like fried rice – minus the eggs and soy sauce. You simply cook your meat and/or veggies in spices that suit your taste, then add in the rice, or serve it on top of rice. You can even substitute pasta with olive oil for most.
Grab a bag of potatoes, and you can make stews that will last several meals. Chilis last for many meals as well, and if you make it a bean chili, you can really get a lot out of the money you spend. And if you are buying enough for the month at one time, you can make a couple of different stews and chilis on different nights and freeze them in individual sandwich baggies, which can be pulled out an microwaved whenever you need a quick meal.
But congratulations on making it through your week! I'm sorry it was harder on you than it had to be, and that many people made comments about your choices. It's a learning process, and honestly, many people make bad choices with the foods they get on a limited budget.
Just remember, if a coworker or friend offers to buy your meal, or gives you free lunch or a doughnut, we usually take it. It's not going against the spirit of the experiment to do the same. :)
Most of these comments are thoughful and helpful. My issue is that the only people in the grocery store who can afford to fill their cart to the ceiling are the people on food stamps. In Texas when a cart is filled to the sky; the payment is always made with the food stamp Lone Star card. Seriously, those of us who work and never have had food stamps could never imagine filling a cart so high.
Potato Chips take up more space than apples.
agreed here in Wisconsin.... thats all i see in the black community.
@ arney : actually there are more white people on welfare than black people...so maybe you should also look other places instead of just the black community.
It's black and white here are statistics on welfare and food stamps
so they shop once a month. that bothers you why?
Your comments are uninformed and not true. I am no longer able to drive and live with my daughter. We go grocery shopping for a month at a time because it is more economical for us to buy for the month. Yes our cart is sky high. I will also point out, that NO ONE in our household receives any type of assistance and pay our own way. Be informed before you spout off. I worked for social services for 25 years and can tell you that the average person's concept of "welfare" as it is often called, is based on misinformation or what you see a few doing. The average person on assistance does not want to be, but has a family to take care of. The job market has forced many to live a lifestyle no one in their right mind would have chosen.
I work in social services too and the vast majority of people in my county on food stamps are lowlifes who keep their hands out year after year. They don't try to get jobs, don't make it to their free job training programs, make sure their children get their free education, get to their free mental health appointments, go to their free drug rehab programs or do anything besides have more children. Food stamp cards are bought and sold, as are their RX Medicaid drugs. I believe we should those less fortunate but I also believe that those who get the benefits should not abuse them.
The comment about "the only people filling their cart sky high are paying with food stamps" is so far off base it's pathetic. My teenage son and I are on food stamps because I lost my job and started my own business from home when I couldn't find another job. I make less money now than I did before, but at least I'm working and keeping a roof over our heads. We use coupons to make the food stamps we get stretch as far as possible, and stocking up when things are on sale for a good price. My cart is full because I make wise shopping choices, use coupons, and yes – I shop once a month, because that's when the money is put on my card. THAT'S why my cart is so full – it's not because I'm a slacker or lazy or get a ton of money on my food stamp card every month. I don't buy junk, either – I buy produce, meats, dairy, cheese, and vegetables – we avoid the junk food aisles. I am just a simple, working American trying to get by – just like the rest of you – I drive a 10-year-old minivan that is on the verge of breakdown most of the time, we wear clothes from Goodwill because we can't afford to buy new, except for special occasions, and we clean houses and student rentals during the summer months to make extra cash. I work for what I make – so don't you dare insinuate that I am "filling my cart sky high" and mooching off the state when I am doing the best I can to get by.
Just wondering why those on Food Stamps always fill their carts up sky high? Do the food stamps go away or do you just not like going to the store more often during the month. That is what always is on my mind when I am having to stand in line at the store behind a person who I see paying this way. Those who are paying with cash have less in their carts and come more often it seems.
One reason might be because they don't have a car and don't want to waste lots of money on taking cabs or buses to the supermarket several times a month.
In my house we don't have a car but one of my relatives drives us to the supermarket once a week when they go.
Overall this was a pretty interesting story. Combining coupons and sales would have allowed for more variety.
Can we please stop being so judgmental of others! Many if not most food stamp recipients are hard working Americans just like you and me.
I find it interesting that that all these people claiming to be on food stamps can afford computers and internet to post online but can't afford to buy food.
Yeah, and always bi tching about how they don't have time to cook for their family. Get the hell off the internet and cook why don't ya?
for all you know they're on a computer at their local library.
Heh, internet connections are cheap and an old computer that gets you on the internet with a dialup can be had for $25-50. The Internet is a must have for job. Hunting these days and it is cheaper and more informative than tv esp when you can't afford cable. To not be on the internet today puts you at a disadvantage employmntwise and socially, it saves on phone calls talking to your family. Some people get a little money and then get all indignant that people with less just want a little more level of a playing field. I bet anyone working for less than $18,000 is working a lot harder than anyone that is an exec. Just watch Undercover Boss to see evidence of this.
Yep, I'm on food stamps. And I've got a pretty nice computer, and an internet connection. Because I got the computer when I had a job that required it. Same with the internet. I lost my job last month, and currently am waiting to start a new one (that I need my computer and the internet for!). So what, I shouldn't get a little help for the gap between so I can eat?
Disagree. I think, once upon a time, people who recieved food stamps may have been hard working individuals who may have need just a little extra help. But today... No. I solidly believe that more than half of the individuals recieving food stamps how found a way to play the systems. They walk in the Health and Human Resources Department with a baby on their hip and walk with a food stamp card in one hand and an iPhone in another. I've seen it. As a person who works two jobs to make ends meet, it really makes me question the system. Allowing this farse to happen not only costs taxpayers like myself but it is taking those government benefits away from people who genuinely need them.
And another thing (and then I promise to get off my soap box folks), one of my jobs is as a cashier for a large grocery and retail store. I think it should be required to show ID in order to use food stamps. If I had a nickle for everytime someone came through my line with an EBT card they bought off someone elese, well... let's just say, I wouldn't need to work two jobs. We had a guy come through the store last week who admitted that he bought $200 in food stamps for $100 off of a woman. Did I trot down the lady's name on the card and report her? Damn right!
this is just ridiculous. you look at the menu she ate during the week, and it's more than most of the people in the world could imagine eating. the menu seems quite filling to me.
my fiance and i are both full time students, and we eat on less than that. we buy in bulk and make it last a really long time. we know how to make food last. we don't eat out because it's not necessary. if people really need to save, there are ways.
every time i go to the store, i see people in the lines on food stamps buying things i wish i could afford. brand name food, processed foods, you name it. we don't qualify for food stamps because we receive financial aid. but that doesn't mean that it covers everything. we could actually use it. we get by because we save and only use our money when it's needed.
Hopefully, while in school, you will learn how to use capital letters.
And this is why the youth have the highest unemployment rate
hey monkey, who died and made you the grammer nazi?
If you are eligible for Work Study and work one hour a week, you are eligible for food stamps. Also, if you work at least 20 hours a week, you are eligible for food stamps.
Yes I can live off $30 a week easy. I actually feed my family of 5 for $50 a week now. We've been doing it for many years, and we have big picky appetites! $200 a month is our limit. We buy all our groceries for the month as soon as hubby gets paid. We buy lots of fresh fruit and groceries from the 99 cent store. Were Mexican so I make plenty of rice and beans and ground beef tacos. I buy frozen chicken breasts and prepare it in a variety of ways. I make everything from scratch. I have 4 stores that I go to and I know what is cheapest at each one. Almost nothing goes to waste at my house. God bless all of those who are struggling.
Thanks for pointing out that you are of Mexican descent. Every country has their 'poor people' foods, and as someone who has lived in three different countries (besides my own) some of these foods are truly delicious. Look up an Egyptian dish called Kosheri. Great stuff!
I shopped at Kroger here in ATL today, Senior Discount of 5%, had some coupons and never buy anything unless it is on sale. Retired–and I can get $50 of groceries for $25. Routinely save 50% at Kroger AND Publix. I am very thrifty.
We shop here in Seattle at Kroger and watch sale flyers, use coupons, and shop local fresh markets.
We probably use less than $30/per per person per week as we have good pantry resources. That said I cook food in big quantities at a time and freeze for future meals.
A sample dinner I cooked today was 2 beef shanks totalling 1 1/2 lbs purchased for $2.86, 1 yellow onion, 2 stalks celery, 2 large cloves garlic, 2 regular carrots, (all veggies purchased in bulk...cost for this recipe...pennies). Herbs from our city deck garden 0$, 1/4 cup dry vermouth (we use the cheapest brand great for cooking... About $3.49/ bottle for decent stuff. Remember there are great herbs in dry vermouth), 1 can each low sodium beef broth, low sodium diced tomatoes, any dried pasta that had been sitting in there for awhile, we used whole wheat curly something.
Final dish seriously great Osso Buco with enough to feed 6 people well. We are eating it again tomorrow and freezing extras for future meals.
Point here being that I grew up up in the late 50's and early 60's in a house with 2 parents, 6 kids, 1 grandma, 1 greatgrandma. We grew things, we preserved, we cooked big stuff at one time and lived a very frugal life even though we lived in a very affluent area.
Never had food stamps, but I did feed 2 adults and 5 growing children on $80 a week (sometimes less) in the early 1990s. We did not go out to eat, had a lot of bean soup, and meat no more than 4 times a week. Desserts were out of the question except for birthdays. We all survived, and were (and still are) actually quite healthy. It can be done with careful planning, and making things from scratch.
For one person that amount can be doable...not high living eating...but still good meals...I have done it myself...it is how one spends the resources and utilizes sales, coupons, discounts etc.
I remember receiving $115/month in the early 90's...but with my shopping strategy I was buying up to $250 in groceries/month...and I do the same thing with the $200/month I receive now...one has to learn how to constructively budget resources to feed themselves adequately...now, it is much more difficult with a family, etc because of so many dietary demands, preferences, habits...but with one person it can be done and done well.
Learn to cook from scratch
Learn to use herbs/spices
Learn some ethnic flavored recipes for a healthy and simple variety
Learn how to buy some staples in bulk size for a cheaper cost
Clip coupons and buy the item when it is on sale
Buy 2 for 1 with coupons
Buy family pack meats and put into small freezer bag portions
Cook in smaller pots and use smaller plates
Measure cooking materials as needed to save waste
Learn how much food can adequately satisfy your hunger
20 years later and you are still on welfare?
That was awesome lol, win!
Not only that, but they're on welfare, and had kids that they couldn't afford while on welfare. Great way to raise a child
Yeah, I was wondering the same thing.
Judging others says much more about the one who judges, than the ones they are judging ;o
Be careful, that "family pack" stuff a lot of times winds up being more expensive per ounce than the regular package stuff.
I'm surprised at how many apples the author purchased. Bananas are usually cheaper.
Bananas are more filling, too.
Maybe she doesn't like bananas.
I find apples pretty filling, myself.
what is going to happen to this country when it hits the fan and NO ONE has any govt assistance??? We need to help eachother. this is what is going to happen if this country mostly the govt doesnt stop spending and start thinking of the people of this country...look at Greece right now....
Yes I could live on $30 per week. Where do I sign up? Oh yeah, I don't believe in being a burden on society. If each member of my family were on food stamps I'd have an extra $300.00/mo to feed my family. Someone's eatin' high on the hog.
Reading this article made me happy that I am able to live off of about $20 a week and still be healthy and enjoy a splurge now and then. It is all about knowing how to shop and cook for yourself and be happy with what you can afford. I work about 50 hours a week (10 hours of OT per week is OK with the boss) and after rent, basic utilities, and gas I have roughly $50-60 left over for food and incidentals until the next paycheck. Yes I do have TV, but I make sacrifices for that luxury: short showers, keeping the lights off unless absolutely necessary, etc. Learning to cook 1 pan meals also helps, 1 pan means less gas and less water needed to clean.
I am fortunate that I live somewhere where fishing and hunting will supplement my diet. My boyfriend and I fish often for salmon and halibut and he does hunt elk and deer, which have replaced beef in my diet. More importantly though, I have learned how to cook a majority of my favorite meals at home. It may surprise the author of this article that you can make a full dinner for less than $3 of new groceries – granted you may need to substitute fresh tomatoes for canned and chicken broth for water, but it can be done!
Looking at the authors diet for the week, I am amazed at how she ate. Why didn't she count in staples that most people, even broke people, keep on hand (rice, pasta, dried beans)? With $30 she could have bought tuna, chicken, cream of mushroom/chicken/whatever condensed soup.. milk and cheese can last more then a week..
10 OT hours/paycheck is what I meant, not 10 OT hours/week...
$30 a week? How about try surviving on less than $6 a week...That's what I did and blogged about my experience..check out http://www.thischangedyourlife.com and look at Experiments in Hunger.
My family of four usually spends $900-1000 a month on groceries. Last month we double paid a payment on accident. Instead of using credit cards to carry over to the next month (we are debt free after paying off $50,000 in credit cards!), we decided to see if we could manage on $400 a month. IT WAS HARD. Of course, we eat all whole foods, and mostly organic. My children get the recommended 7-9 portions of fruits and veggies a day. I don't know how people do it! My mother has been unemployed for 3 years. Her savings is running out. As a gift, I sent her what would be a week's worth of groceries for us.... chicken, beef steaks, cubed steaks, pork chops, veggies, eggs, cheese, fruits, butter, bread, milk, etc... while I did send large/bulk packages, I felt like I wasn't sending enough. After eating plain pasta and canned Hunt's pasta sauce... she was accustomed to eating so much less food. Our ONE WEEK of food lasted her (one person) over a month. That being said–she totally ate the produce first, because it was a total luxury. Fresh fruits and veggies shouldn't have to be a luxury! I was amazed that she could buy an additional loaf of bread and gallon of milk to get through 30 days. I guess people just learn to do it.
I have a family of 4, and I live in a major metro area, and you spend in one month what I spend in 3.
quit wasting your money at Whole Paycheck. We use Aldi, Meijer and s bulk food vendor called Gordon Food Service. Personally I think organic is the biggest ripoff around. Is there any actual scientific data that it's measurably better for you? If you feel you "must" have organic then grow your own produce. Where you live you have nearly a year round growing season. I'm lucky to get a 3 month growing season and I still manage to freeze and can plenty. And I work full time.
$900 – $1,000 a month... WHAT?! What the heck are you buying on that insane "budget"? Geesh. Ever clip a coupon or take a gander at a sale flyer? No wonder it was so hard to feed your family on $400 a month. You are serving huge amounts of premium meat and animal products every day. That list for your mother for one week was insane.
holy crap!!! I have a family of 7 with 2 adults, 3 teenagers, and 2 babies on formula and our grocery budget for a month is $250 including all our paper products, diapers, and personal hygiene needs. We eat well too. We also eat a lot of raw healthy foods. I do not understand why you spend so much. Btw- i have 2 kids who have food allergies also so we spend extra on some specialty foods (within our $250 budget)
Changing the apples to bananas (apples are expensive) and cutting the coffee would free up a good portion of your budget.
I know I personaly need a few cups of coffee to get through my mornings, but a bag of coffee ($7) lasts me for over a week. I make a small thermos (about 1/2 a pot) each morning and that lasts me the day. I could never bring myself to pay $3+ for an espresso or a store-bought coffee each morning.
coffee fills you up, that is a known fact to the poor!
I went back to college without a job based on encouragement from our local Vocational Rehabilitation Dept & a payment of about $100 a month. I was living with my elderly mother, who is on Social Security. After having to take out student loans to pay for gas & food, I applied for food stamps but I was turned down. They told me students do not get food stamps in SC.
Why does a student without any income going full-time to school not qualify for food assistance? Isn't that discrimination?
Yes, it's insane. A friend of mine was attending college full time and couldn't find a job on the side. She received grants which barely covered her tuition, but she still needed to eat and pay rent. She applied for food stamp but was denied because their "guideline" says students who are already receiving financial aid do not qualify for food stamps. Even the worker who processed her application said the rules are absurd.
michigan students can get benefits but must work at least 20 hrs a week. my son delivers pizza 2 nights a week for minimum wage then gets 200 a month in stamps.
Tertiary education is not compulsory education. You are choosing to spend money to attain a college degree – money which could have been spent on items, including food.
Good call Rich.
I see your point, but at the same time, He is trying to better himself and when he finishes school, will be able to get a decent job... Its a shame that it is so hard for young people to go to college if their parent's aren't rich and pay for them to go and eat and live.
While your standpoint might be, well you should be working instead of draining taxpayers, if he doesn't go to school, he may be a drain to taxpayers because he is forced to work at Walmart or McDonalds....
*Maybe* he will be able to find a decent job. Have you read the statistics about unemployed and underemployed college grads? 50 or 60 years ago, yes, a college degree was a guarantee of a secure, well-paying, lifelong job. No longer. Many college grads today are on stamps.
If anybody,it shoud be you getting the foodstamps. You are trying to better yourself and will be back through taxes later, unlike people who are on social support for their entire lives.
I believe that assistance is great when needed, but don't ask me to feel sorry for the leaches I stand behind in line at the grocery store who load their food stamp purchases in their new SUV's while I am trying to decide to pay my power bill late or feed my kids. I work my BUTT off to support these sorry people. The least they could do is pick their feet up when they walk in their bedroom slippers to the meat counter and pick out the most expensive anything my tax money can buy. Considering they can't even pull up their damn pants or take the rollers out of their hair or better yet, get out of their pajama's and put on a freakin bra to get said free food, I am surprised by nothing. Yep, I am angry , yep I am bitter, yep it makes me descriminate-but only at lazy people. Laziness has no race. Lack of self respect has no color. Greed and selfishness, are a product of our government enabling people to settle for being garbage that I have to support. Sickens me.
Why should you have a say in what I eat. Just because I use food stamps, doesn't mean I should not be able to by pasta and a steak. I am intitled to govenment help. And if i want to buy some smokes with the money I do make, wht should you care, they are taxed heavily anyways.
I never said I should have a say in what you eat. Ever consider how much food you could buy with the cash you are spending on cigarettes? I bet if you didn't get your foodstamp money every month you would be calling them for your cell phone too wouldn't you? Nothing wrong with using it if its needed. Its the people living off the system and accepting that as a means to be lazy and an excuse to take advantage of it that makes me sick. BTW, how much is that internet costing you??? Probably a weeks worth of groceries huh?
You are not Entitled to anything in life! You should be working towards the goal of getting OFF foodstamps.. shame on you!
You are only entitled because of specific statutes authorizing the program and funding for it. Those have changed over the years since the program's inception in the 1960s and will almost certainly change again. While none of us have a right to tell you what to eat, we definitely have a right to be observe and be critical of what we might consider unsound choices of how to spend taxpayer supplied funds and voice that criticism both to the general public as part of a dialogue on how to improve the program and to our lawmakers if we think restrictions requiring wiser spending are called for to help fight malnutrition in this country and keep the taxpayer funded federal budget in line. You are only "entitled" to the funds... and only "entitled" to use them for such a broad category of permissible items.. as long as the law says so and laws can be changed.
Sorry, but I don't feel like paying for your health issues either caused by your stupid choices. With the incredible national debt this country is facing, uncertainty about Social Security and the like, I really hope that programs like this are scrutinized. Items like cigarettes, junk food, soda, etc. are not going to be allowed. Like you're really going to starve if you don't get your Cheetos and smokes!
Why should you have a say in what I eat. Just because I use food stamps, doesn't mean I should not be able to by pasta and a steak. I am intitled to govenment help. And if i want to buy some smokes with the money I do make, wht should you care, they are taxed heavily anyways.
Nobody is entitled, nobody. You get what you work for.
That's a foolish argument. If indeed you are purchasing steaks and cigarettes, you are undermining the purpose of the food stamp program, which is to help provide a nutritious diet for lower-income people. The food stamp program was not devised to preserve your discretionary income. Also, the government does not entitle anyone to freeload. So shut your mouth.
Simply because you are getting help on the premise that you need help. If you have the money to splurge on cigarettes then you probably don't actually need the help and that money should be diverted to someone who does.
That's a foolish argument. If indeed you are purchasing steaks and cigarettes, you are undermining the purpose of the food stamp program, which is to help provide a nutritious diet for lower-income people. The food stamp program was not devised to preserve your discretionary income. Also, the government does not entitle anyone to freeload.
He who pays the piper calls the tune.
if you can afford cigarettes the you can afford food.
if you don't like other people criticizing your lifestyle choices then finance those choices yourself.
No, you work your butt off to support yourself. From your description you probably don't pay any federal income tax. You must be millionaire rich!
Well I herniated alot of discs in my back. Honey that is what you call breaking your back, working. I recieve 460.00 a month thank God I get it. but it is not enough for groceries utilities, rent, cleaning supplies, personal hygeine products like soap., etc..fruit, meat? Yes I do walk in slippers, somtimes I do not put on a bra. no no PJ's.Now they talk more cuts. Why don't they just slit my throat. My kids are working, going to college they get a few food stampsTh. Still beans rice potatoes, ramen, eggs if tey are on sale. Baby gets milk, sometimes bananas, mac-n=cheese on sale.Iey pay rent, utilities. etc clothf someone boght a pricey piece of meat maybe it was shared in small amounts, just to have3 a taste, or eat more beans that week.If they walk in slippers maybe it is all they can wear, if they shuffle maybe they are lucky to be upright at all. If your grocery money is low why don't you get a better job. See I can judge you too. I do not like to see druggies being supported either. But maybe it is legal meds, & they are having a very bad day, & doing well to walk at all.. Doing thier best to get food for thier children. You cannot bulls**t me how well they eat.Been there. Still there. No FS for me.Probably a monthly treat. Sometimes you need a little treat to keep on struggling.New car, maybe they borrowed it to go shopping. Just because they are poor, doesn't mean everyone they know are poor.Does not mean they never worked, You are trying to poison people against peope that lost thier job, got hurt, etc.Count your blessings you still can work.When my children finish thier education, do not worry they will be paying them taxes in. I am returning to school for a career that does not require me to walk, or stand.Hopefully the job will be there when I am through. .It is a matter of self respect, and survival. We but cheap bagged chicken, quarters not breasts, Expresso, never had that, even when I was working. Coffee, yes lots of it. Food stamp allotments are for the month. Not week, so you buy all you can, especially, needs like margerine, eggs, rice, potatoes, beans, milk some items for two weeks some non perishables for the month.But will but breasts if I can get them for like **cents a lbs. Oil, flour, Mayo if on sale, boullion, baking powder.Farina , more like oatmeal, if on sale.Since we do not have money to go to a restuarant maybe we can make some chicken strips instead of chicken & dumplings.I just went through 2 years with no tv, or phone. So just think before you open your mouth. There are a lot of people working that just do not make enough to support there families. A lot of companies that only hire part-time, no benefits.Maybe someone you saw, had to go to the store during thier resting time, between jobs. It says in the Bible, Do not Judge, Least you be Judge.I understand your anger. These are trying times for everyone.If it gets to bad, go to a food bank, they usually do not care what you make. Just that you are in need of help. No real meals type things. But peanut butter, some noodles maybe a can of fruit or veggies. A loaf of bread a can of soup. it helps. Just do not poison yourself with your thoughts & try to poison other peoples thoughts. Try to have a good life okay.We are all haveing a hard time. We all are trying to survive.I will pray for you. Have charitable thoughts for you
I have a bunch of ruptured discs in my back too; along with spinal arthritis. I'm in a lot of pain right now, but I'm going to school and working toward a career that I can do. Why give up? Don't work harder work smarter!!
Sorry Ginger I speed read, and missed your statement that you're going back to school. I can't delete my comment above, and apologize.
Don't give up. It can be done.
No, that's not what you call breaking your back. That's what you call a poor excuse to not have to work anymore. Get off your ass and get a job. Millions of other people in this country work every day with back problems and don't threaten to slit their throats because of 'more cuts.' Have some damn self respect and work for your money.
Candice, you didn't read all she had to say; she wasn't threatening to slit her throat; she is going to school to get a job she can do; her whole article was about struggle and overcoming it, and you act like this. If you were my daughter, I'd swat your behind.
I don't mean to sound crass, but geez...I work mandatory 45hrs. Per week, usually ends up closer to 55-60. I work in a convenience store, on my feet the entire shift/s. I too have a bad back, and both knees are shot. Every night at the end of my shift, I go home and pull out the heating pad and bengay...I cannot afford to have knee surgery, and even if I could, I couldn't afford to live on 66% of my pay. So everyday, I continue on. And everyday, people come into my store and buy nothing but junk...10,20,30.00 worth of junk and pull out their "independence" cards...yep, I'm struggling, in pain, to support me and mine, AND these sad excuses who could care less. So yeah, I'm angry, because this system doesn't work..the majority of my customers are lifers, and they send their kids in to use the card also, creating the next generation. So while I get what you are saying, what I see with my own eyes validates my position.
"Baby gets milk"? Would it be remiss to point out that having a baby while unable to work and in a desperate financial situation is an example of poor decision making?
I worked in the grocery business many years and live in the Delta. I have witnessed a family of 4 (single mother and 3 illegitimate children) get $1,800 per month in food stamps–no jioke. We had to run their food stamp cards to see what their balance was and many were getting around $1,800 per month on their card just for food. The same family received free rent on a 3 bedroom apartment, had utility assistance, received ssi checks of $492.00 each for the mother and the 3 kids, free medicaid that paid for all their medical, dental, pharmacy needs plus they received anything else they could find out about at church on Sunday. This person was probably a third generation of assistance of this nature and will never better themselves. However, how could she ever make enough money to bring home enough money to pay for all of the benefits she was receiving for free!!! There are more people by far who abuse and cheat the system than those that are really in need. The federal and state governments both need to stop all food stamp, welfare, ssi or any other form of assistance completely. Since so few that need it can get it there would be no deficit in the coffers. I have to work for everything I get and so should everyone else. Also, families can take care of their own people that can't take care of themselves. It is not the people's responsiblity.
And she probably honestly believes that she's entitled to all that assistance.
I don't think a lot of people really know how to shop for groceries. I know I don't. Unless you're in a position that you really need to watch your pennies when buying groceries, you won't know what stores have the best deals, know to use coupons, etc. I spend $25.00 a week just on coffee. Give the author a break.
Soooo, being ignorant and uneducated on how to do something appropriately makes it ok??? Buying items on sale and usuing coupons isn't rocket science. It requires reading the sale flier and utilization of scissors.
Well said, Liz.
Wow this is just the right topic for me to add to. I would like for some of you to know that foodstamps do not help me they have damaged me and my family. I am a single mother of 2 children. My oldest son is 20 and has dropped out of school at 16 to stay home and watch his baby sister so that I could work cause the cost of child care was not worth my weeks wages just to work to pay daycare what makes since here someone else gets your money to watch your child and after you pay that you got maybe $30 to pay your bills, daycare gets the most. I tried to receive some special daycare thru the so called programs but like always I was excepted and the very next day the funding was already gone. No job, no daycare. Had 1 lady that would come when she felt like it, so the days she didnt feel up to watching the baby my son stayed home from school. I hated that more then you even know, my son as lost on his education due to me having to work and keep food and the bills paid. Now lets jump to today. My daughter which is now 6 has been diagnosed with ASD. My son has been the biggest hero in this family for what he has done to help us by staying home dealing everyday with his sister while I worked PT. We had been doing good. Food, clothes, the little extra things you know. Cable, internet and Chinese dinners once in awhile even. Along the way I have done my own research on ASD and what other parents are doing to help their children with the same disorder my daughter has. Well in my finding some foods are best not fed to these children due to digest issues which vary from gluten free/ L. Casein free diets. And with all this my mother passed away, well once that happened I now have another family member to take care of and that is my youngest sister whom has brain damage from an auto accident as a baby thrown from the truck and her head hit a telephone pole. I was working and we got off foodstamps things were looking good. I have no job now due to having to stay home and care for the 2 disabled people whom I love very much and make many sacrifices for. I receive disable SSI for both its just enough to pay the bills rent, electric, and cable but that is it. My son got a PT job he gives me money for food and 1/2 cable bill. I receive less then $160 a month. I am afraid that my health has gone way south due to not being able to eat healthy like everyone tells you to do. I cant I will go without to allow my children to eat first and that means they only get 1 meal a day and maybe a snack. My daughter whom can eat all day gets the most I can not afford the things that are gluten free or L. casein free. I bought 1 cake that cost me $6. I do my best to buy things that are good for her like fruits and veggies which she likes alot, but she likes sandwiches, cookies, and pasta. They all cost more on the gluten free isle at your grocery store. Milk she drinks very seldom so that is good, I do not buy cheese any more she loves cheese. I am afraid I may have some kind of eating disorder due to lack of nutrients I have lost another 5 pounds, dont get me wrong I eat but not enough. I am also having to pay back a portion out of the $160 that I get to a mistake that the state made giving my mom and sister 2 years ago to much. I was unaware of this of course cause me and my mom seldom talked. I get no help from my so called family, 21 years ago my sister was molested by someone in the house at the time she points the finger at all 3 which happen to be my father and 2 brothers. No charges were pressed due to incompetence to sit on the stand. I have my hands full and what I receive for 4 people is ridiculous I do not cook everyday due to the electric bill if I go over 1000 kwhs the price for all the watts over they charge you more. I cook maybe 2 good meals a week. Mostly chicken or hamburger something. Nothing goes to waste. Even my ASD child knows we recycle the bottles and paper. You know how heavy ladies want to be thin well let me tell you I have ribs showing and it is not pretty in a swimsuit. I want to gain weight not loss it I fight to keep what I got. I want a job so bad I can taste it, sitting at home is driving me crazy. Some days I wake up thinking I can just go get a job well then I look around the room and remind myself that my 2 girls and my son are what is the must important I can not just leave them with any old Tom, Dick or Harry cause they could be violated and because of the disabilities they have no rights. Proven already to me with what has happened to my sister and that was within her own family. I can not even image someone doing something to my daughter like that and have them tell me she is incompetent I would absolutely lose it. And again to my sister whom mind you has a 38DDD breast size is very easily looked at by those that are perverts. So I will go hungry to assure they are safe. I hate the system it hasnt worked for me. Each time I have tried it only gets worst. Now having to pay back what I did not get is even harder. My family suffers everyday. I grow more and more angry each day I have nothing to give my daughter to eat that is healthy for her and more and more angry that I can not reach out for assistants due to the facts I get no where. Dead End. I give up trying, for the worst always happens. Can you eat on $10 a week? Would actually be $9.50 a week 1 person?
10 dollars per week is not enough
I would say part of your problem is you aren't educated. If you were more literate, you could probably get a better job. If you could afford cable and the internet, then I just don't think you need government assistance. Sorry.
Sounds like a lot of excuses and not much motivation to change your situation. Did you consider getting a job at night so your son didn't have to leave school? ...There is a rebuttal for everything you have listed, including the fact that you don't need CABLE when you can't feed your family. Learn how to cook gluten free foods for your child instead of buying expensive store-bought and unhealthy prepared foods. FRUIT and VEGETABLES are gluten free. Did you ever think of that?
So you advocate leaving helpless minor children alone at night so the one parent can work? nice.
Again, so many harsh comments, said without a breath of graciousness. I often double up on recipes, and freeze half, less cooking that way; also crockpots are a great thing, the use the teensiest amount of electricity. A lot of people have them around that don't use them. Maybe you could check and see if you could get the special antenae's (spelling) so you can cut the cable – I think some of them are free, and don't forget the many churches and foodbanks that can help. Every choice, good or bad can be picked apart and nitpicked to death. Hindsight is 20/20. Keep you chin up and everyday try to do something positive for yourself, even if it's just a pat on the back that you got through another day.
gluten free food shelves are far and few between; my daughter donated to one in Atlanta, and I just did a search, and it sounds like it is just beginning to come on the rise. Check with your food shelf and see if they can help. Here's a link;http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/resources/ht/glutenfreefoodbanks.htm but it's more about starting one up. Maybe one of the food shelf volunteers could get excited about it; perhaps they may be even willing to contact some of the gluten free companies for donations...One thing a day, one step at a time.
I understand that you love your children and are trying to do the best you can, but honestly why do you keep having them? I would never, ever ever give my son a "baby sister", knowing that his life was going to be ruined by it. It must have been obvious that you could not afford child care before you got pregnant. You don't mention a husband's income or child support from an ex-husband in your calculations. I hope for your son's sake that you did not get impregnated by a jobless loser who is letting your son carry the burden of providing for a special-needs child. I don't mean to sound cruel–I had a surprise pregnancy myself–but I'm shocked that your son is bearing the responsibility for all of this.
My version of the food stamp diet:
2 PB sandwiches per day
1 box macaroni per day
1.5 loaves day old bread = $1.50 per week
1 jar dollar store PB = $1 per week
1 small tub of margarine = $1.50 per week
1 quart of milk = $1.50 per week.
Now, what was the problem? :-)
Whoops! Left out the 1 box m&c per day = $7.00 per week.
My wife and I live on 280K-300k a year. We have a large house, a boat, and four cars. We probably spend around 800/week including eating out, a bit more if you include the membership to our private club. Not sure what its like to eat on 30 dollars per week, but I don't think that I would be interested in trying. Even with an okay income we have lots of expenses for our house and cars. For example an oil change on our Mercedes is over 100 dollars. All I am saying is that we all have different incomes and different expenses. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. You could have always forgone an hour of tv to work more
Richard, no disrespect, I see your point, however, there are some of us with college educations that work 60-80 hours a week but are single parents who either have to work so many hours we can't see our kids or see them and make sacrifices such as food and clothings through no fault of our own. Spouse walking out, lay offs...so many things that you never think will happen to YOU. I agree with you that most situations are due to bad choices or not making a true effort to better lives along the way, but I can honestly say, I have worked since I was 14, have a college education and have done everything to try to ensure a future for my children. I am very glad you are fortunate enough to live the lifestyle you do. Its hard to understand how a lot of people dont get those same chances you had to get where you are.
Richard, I am sure to have gotten there you had to be raised in a household where education was a must and your parents probably aren't beggars or prostitutes. I can't believe your smug attitude and obtusely skewed perception. For someone who has so much in life, you must live a very meaningless life to make such a comment. There are people who take advantage of the system, which in some ways I'm sure you're guilty yourself(maybe fudging on your taxes here and there), but for the most part, people are in these circumstantial situations due to some things that are out of their control. Although I have risen above poverty and have funded and received an education, I was raised in poverty due to my father leaving my mother to fend for herself. She didn't choose to go on welfare but we were lucky enough to have this resource or else we would have starved. My mother worked her hardest, sometimes at three jobs, and she skinned dead embalmed cats at one point to earn the money to feed us. Sometimes it's not always about working hard and sorry to say this, but you're a jackass.
you also have to understand that people raised in poverty and ignorance are NOT ABLE to make right choices
I use to have $25 for two weeks to feed my son and myself. I didn't qualify for food stamps, that would have been nice. And no, I wasn't out spending my money on foolish things instead of food. I didn't have cable or internet, I walked to the store to save gas money, I gave up my uncovered prescriptions so we could eat....I was just over the limit for help....of anykind. But I did it and we survived and while I would never wish it on anyone else, it's do able and made me a stronger person. Now I'm in a two income household and money is better and life is easier, but I still am very careful about how much I spend a week. We average $60 a week for 3 people now and most of what I buy is fresh unprocessed food...more than $30 yes, but still not a lot. If you're careful you can heat healthy on a budget.
And when I say "Just" over the limit I meant I was just slightly over what the income limit is.
I raise gardens and put up a years worth or more of food each year for about six people. I pick wild berries, mushrooms, leeks, and much more. I home can all of my own jellies, salsa, pasta sauces, pickles and everything that I can. I am successful at hunting and fishing most of the time and still I find that milk, eggs, oil, flour, grains, dry goods, butter, fresh salad stuff when not in season and chicken and pork now and then I still end up spending about $30.00 a week each on food. l buy bulk, store branded items, large cuts of meats to butcher myself. Its a lot of hard work raising as much food as I do and I even give lots of it to family that I guess I could sell to buy the other food items that I need. But its all worth it to eat healthy and always have enough to get a full belly and to do it for around $30.00 a week is wonderful. I do spend about $200.00 a year on seeds, plants, fertilizers. Due to the way that I keep my pantry I can wait to buy stuff until its on sale, close-out or discounted. For me spring is the lean time when the freezers are getting thin and the crops are just going in. I know that I am blessed with location, health, and personal motivation to do the work that is involved to be as self supportive as I am. If all I had was $30.00 a week all of my house plants would be tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, spinach and so on. They all grow fine in pots and windows. There is so very much that folks can do to off set the food bills. Every state and location will increase and decrease to amount that it takes to eat at the same level. Buying from places like farmers markets, dollar stores, pick your own farms, and even going in on buying a whole pig with a few friends can all be budget savers. Many people think that the only place to buy food is a grocery store and that is so not true. you can pay a farmer sometimes to raise a few extra chickens for you or rent you a small space for a garden for helping on the farm now and then. Be creative and think out side of the store.
Wow. Many of the comments on here are quite the plethora of anger and misinformation. I don't really have the time to correct people and I've learned that some people don't want facts, they just want to be angry. I've worked in Social Services for over ten years now and I've seen and heard quite a bit. I do agree that the system is flawed and needs corrections, but most people aren't even close in what the major problems are in the system. The best time to overhaul the system would have been when the economy was at it's peak and pretty much any able bodied person could find employment, but no one cared then. Now that the economy is down, I see people come into my office that never thought they'd be here. Of course there are people that abuse the system, and there always will be; but in my experience it has been a very small minority. I'm not going to defend people who abuse the system, but I'm also not going to defend people who are looking for a scapegoat. I guess my point is that before we start judging someone, we need to walk in their shoes, know the real story; for all you know, the nice car they have may be the only thing they have. You don't know.
Instead of food stamps why don't the government just give out real food? Flour, cornmeal, oil, powerded eggs, powerded milk, sugar, beans and rice? Seems like it would save the government lots of money and it would do what food stamps is suppose to do, keep people from starving to death.
Government could buy from AMERICAN farmers to distribute. Oh wont the grocery stores have a fit? They couldn't get paid for all the fancy packaging.
Your $30 week looked my normal food list minus the one night a week out at a restaurant where I take half the meal home for lunch the next day. I don't have to do this, I just do. I'm very thankful to have a mom who taught me to be frugal, and a boyfriend who came from a frugal family.
I receive only $16 a month in food stamp & I'm diabetic & I work part-time job with no benefits. Government should cut budget on war & space stuff and spend more on homeless, food stamps, health insurances, stimulus checks, social security checks, etc....
Yes, that's the problem with our welfare system. The ones who are truly in need or actually doing some work usually do not get much help. It's forcing everyone to either cheat or stay home and be a bum.
I live on 1500 dollars a month since becoming a widow. After my mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance and gas for my car are paid I have nothing left. The only assistance I am eligible for is food stamps and medicaid that has a 1400 dollar monthly deductible. I get 82 dollars in food stamps a month and although I am a very frugal cook The amount is not enough most months. The amount gives me little option but to seek out specials on produce and healthy proteins. I buy up chicken only when it's below a dollar a pound, pork when its less that two dollars a pound (beef is out of my price range) and create meal size packages to freeze. I grow vegetables (the plants and seeds are purchased with food stamps) in the summer and freeze or can. Building a pantry and freezer to keep nutritious meals available for weeks and months into the future is not easy. I imagine people that don't know how to purchase, prepare and plan meals around large cuts of meat, whole chickens and inexpensive soups that freeze well, subside on foods that are not nutrient rich, full of fat, sodium and filling starchy meals. Having the skills I do is a rare commodity these days when most people do not know how to cut up a chicken or break down a large piece of meat or what to do with dry beans, or fresh vegetables. To vilify those that don't have the homemaking skills one used to take for granted (and some apparently still do) is hardly a thoughtful notion. It's easy to dismiss the struggles of those that don't live in your immediate environment. I have and will continue when needed, to trade several dollars in food stamps to purchase soap, deodorant, furnace filters, toilet paper, or cash to help pay for a doctor visit or prescription. Those items and many more that are required are beyond my budget. I know I have plenty of company in these difficult economic times and consider my self pretty well off compared to others, on assistance or otherwise. What amazes me is the judgmental position some people are compelled to express. Critical thinking skills and compassion are at a high time low. I would be willing to bet a few dollars in food stamps that those people most critical about others receiving food and other assistance, and what they do with those dollars, would not for a minute choose to trade situations.
You could get a roommate if you insist on living in the same house you lived with your husband.
If I was able to find a suitable room mate the utility bills would increase. Rent to me would be considered income that would take away my food assistance. How would that help?
Depending on how much you are charging for rent, it could be of huge benefit to you. Split utilities half and half with your roommate. It's different in every area, but most places I know for a room and full use of public areas of the house, you can get $300-$600/month. Even at $300/month IF you use $100 of that for utilities, that leaves you with an extra $118 above the $82 that you receive for food assistance. You can put that towards food – a bill which may now be shared with two people.
Great post. It highlights a lot of the problems too many are facing today. Empathy is at an all time low in this country. People are looking at each post to reassure themselves that they will never be in that position because they would never make the mistake the poster made. Your skills will do you well. If the economy continues to contract, I may well end up back on my 40 acres living in a "local" economy, like that prior to WWII. Are those that continually compare the relative prosperity of the poor in America to the poor in Africa prepared to deal with the fallout of 30-40% of Americans having the buying power of an African, given that this is an economy based on consumption?
Renters usually pay their won utilities, so you could include that as part of the rent. However, Kathy, sounds like nothing would help you. You must live in the same house w/t a roommate – so you are beyond help.
Kathy, good for you! I know many, many people who have not ever learned to budget or cook; When I was growing up it was taught in school, when I question young people today, they haven't a clue, their education in these areas has been so watered down. I know whole families with 2 working parents that rarely eat at home, so the kids aren't picking up those skills there. I always think of that old saying, about walking a mile in their shoes.
girl, you do what you have to do, right!
I don't think this person did a very good job of stretching her money. Fresh peppers, especially the red, orange, and yellow ones are expensive for a vegetable. I never buy those and just mostly buy the green ones when they're on sale. Fresh tomatoes can get expensive too. The average price that I've seen for vine ripe nowadays is $3-$4 a pound. If she wanted to use the tomatoes for cooking, she could have gotten canned tomatoes. An all spinach salad could have been cheaper if she used something like romaine lettuce instead. And if I was living on $30 a week, I would never buy chicken breast. The drumsticks are a lot cheaper.
I just moved back to the States after living in Mexico for several years. The last area in which I lived didnt have a lot of large supermarkets where I could buy the things I was used to. I started buying food like the locals did, in the smaller market squares and at the local butcher (carnicerias). Without the packaging, shipping and marketing costs it was all very affordable. 300 pesos a week was easily done, and about as fresh as you could want it. After moving back I decided to try to keep my habits the same. I dont have access to the same types of vendors here but there are places that cater to people that dont want to pay too much. Here in NV one of the stores is Foodsource, where they have sales every wednesday on produce and Fridays for meat. Today I got 2.14 lbs of tomatoes for 1.90, 5 bellpeppers for 1.00 a head of celery for .89, 2.16 lbs of plums for 1.08, 2lbs of carrots for .99,2 heads of lettuce for .99, 5 lb bag of potatoes for .99..... I buy chicken thighs when theyre on sale and of course the drumsticks too. Pork sirloin steaks are often on sale for .89 a lb... The sales are out there, we just have to search for them. Fresh produce can be found for decent prices, but not at most stores. I find that looking for stores that cater to the Latino population will get you better deals. Be willing to shop at a few different stores, not just the big superstore for the convenience. My kids are in college now and I still buy them $20 – 30 a week in produce just to make sure they eat things other than top ramen and rice... By really looking for the deals I can get them quite a bit.
The same store had whole chickens on sale, dont remember the exact amt per lb... one whole chicken was $3.41. I could make 3 meals from that. Chicken salad from the breasts, thighs and sticks with veggies the next day and then take all the bones and make a soup with a few extra veggies for the last. Thinking ahead is the key?
A whole chicken also is a great way to get a bunch of meat for a low cost. They are easy to take apart, or, in the case of my boyfriend, just pick the meat off the bones.
All of you people whining about "my tax money" have got to realize that a lot of these people on public assistance were once taxpayers, right? They paid into the system, they lost their jobs, and now they're using the system they paid into.
...and unfortunately, some of them are experts of playing the system and have not made an effort to contribute positivley to society for years.
The welfare system in this country is a dysfunctional mess. The welfare application process is a joke. Even if they have a lot of properties and other valuables, as long as the applicants don't have that much money sitting in bank/investment accounts, they will qualify for assistance.
I know of someone, who owns a condo while receiving welfare, has recently bought another house with all cash.
I frequently see people shopping with food stamp cards and then drive off in their brand new Mercedes.
The system also encourages people to be lazy. The ones who have jobs (talking about low-paying jobs here) usually do not qualify for assistance. Thus, they are better off not working at all and simply go apply for welfare, which pays them a lot more than actually going to work.
It seems no matter what article you read, about any subject, there's always a bunch of comments ranting about how stupid someone is, how much smarter the commenter is and generally mean-spirited, hateful trash talk about their fellow man. Whether it be a political issue or not, it always turns into one. Whether it be a racial issue or not, it always turns into one. Whether it be a moral issue or not, it always turns into one. Everyone sure seems to think they know more than everyone else, they are superior to everyone else and everyone else can just go to hell as far as they are concerned. Sad, really.
I recieve at present $105.00 and am very thankfull for it, I am 73 and live in a sm. town and grow a sm. garden every yr. and can , I don't smoke, drink etc. ,I get the lowest amt. s.s. every month, so yes it is tight, but while it may not be all i could wish for, I get what i need, I once had money put away for my old age, but married a con man , so wal-la, Today I am a much smarter person, have great friends and thank god for what I do have, by the way Georgia, I don't know about your snap program but I can assure you no one in oregon recieves thoes kind of benifits.
I think that $30/week for one individual is actually very reasonable. I also think that it is a bit of an unfair assessment to only do this for one week. Some things would be purchased and last for a lot longer than just one week. We are a family of 9 and live on $200 every two weeks for groceries. By these calculations we would be eligible for $270 ($30/person x 9 people) every week. I'm not sure what I would do with all of that food. My husband makes a very average salary and we don't need food stamps. However under state guidelines we would still be eligible for $473 additionally/month. If we had no income we would be eligible for nearly $1400. These numbers are out of control. I think the definition of what is necessary needs to be re-evaluated.
I would like to add that our $200 every two weeks includes all of our toiletries not just food.
I agree, this "experiment" should be done for a month or so to make it a realistic portrait of life on $30/week. There would be a week where one would have to spend a portion of the budget for staples, but then not have to worry about them and focus on finding fresh ingredients and proteins.
The only objective for "food stamps" and WIC is to be the last resort for people and families that cannot (not will not) take care of themselves and would starve or be malnourished otherwise. Furthermore, in the vast majority of cases, the aid is intended to be temporary while people get back on their feet.
The writer says "I didn’t have the luxury of variety or choice." Variety and choice aren't necessary to stay fed.
The writer says "I’m more accustomed to shopping for convenience..." Your convenience is not the taxpayer's objective.
The writer says "I wake up hungry." We're supposed to wake up hungry. Nutritionists will tell you that if you don't wake up hungry you consumed too much too late the night before.
The writer whines, "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." Again, the objective is only to keep you fed, not indulge your Starbucks habit, raise your mood or sustain your social life."
The writer says, "A weekend out of city limits proves a bit tricky. Not only do I have to bring food, I can't share it." Leisure road trips should probably be out of the question for people in bad enough financial situations that they require food stamps. And again, the objective is to keep you and only you fed.
I won't even go into the writer's choices of some of the most expensive per meal items around.
I feel for people in hard economic times. I don't want to see anyone who is trying to get ahead and support themselves starving or malnourished. But if you could live as well on the taxpayer's dime as you could supporting yourself, where is the incentive to strive to improve your situation?
Very intelligent! Nice to read such a well thought out factual response :) Well said!
Totally agree and was the exact same point I was trying to make with my post. The idea is to give people a basic subsidy to survive during hardship!!!
This is laughable. My experience with food stamp users are that they are working the system. Come to visit my local Kroger in East Atlanta and stand behind a food stamp shopper. You will see an overflowing cart with only brand name products and most items are the most unhealthy items with high salt, saturated fats, high sugar and processed everything. There is no selection based on prices or deals. But since I don't have food stamps or even come close to qualifying for them I search the prices, the deals, the coupons. As far as I'm concerned it should be really hard to get food stamps. You should have to routinely have to re-qualify for them every six months. It's not like the people working the system ever intend on getting a job. And they should be for only certain products. You shouldn't be able to purchase potato chips and soda with food stamps.
Food stamps and welfare are two highly abused entitlement systems that need a serious overhaul with real control policies.. They are a total fleecing of America. Only those truly in need should have access to these programs.
And when I said credit card, I actually just mean his debit card with the MC logo. We don't have any credit cards period.
Kudos to Sheila. I was hoping that there would have been a report on her weight, did it stay the same (good) or go down (maybe good for the moment, but not good over a long run). Besides foodstams there are also various food pantries run by charities that give needing people and families food they could not afford. The neat thing is much of the food donated to these charities come from local farmers – how trendy you say, but its been going on for years. For instance one national organization called Plant a Row (http://www.gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=par/index.html) organizes volunteers and farmers to work together to get surplus crops off the fields and into someones pantry. A chapter in Loudon county VA, which is considered part of the DC Metro area, supplied around eight tons of fresh vegetables and fruits to local food banks for the needy. It would be interesting to learn more about how these types of organizations work nationally with food banks and how much of a difference they make in the fight against hunger in the US.
I don't know of anyone that only gets $30 a week in food stamps. Any idiot knows that you gotta have 5 or 6 kids so you can get $300-$400 per week!!!
For those who feel it can't be done or who feel it's not enough- I have a question for you. In NY you are a family of 4- 2A/2C. You receive 500/month for food stamps. That's 31/pp/wk. (I looked up the rates a few months ago which are publically available if you do a search on google) How is 500 not enough for FOOD? I'm not talking toiletries. I'm talking edible items. If 500 is not enough- how much is enough? What is a 'fair' amount? Figure on 2 adults and 2 grade school aged kids as the 'typical' family. What is a fair budget for a family of 4 for food?
If you have a calculator and a grocery store handy you should be able to answer your own question and have little doubt about the accuracy of your answer. $500 for a family of 4 in a city sounds a wee bit paltry.
I ask in all honestly because my husband and I live in NY and we spend about 250/month on actual food and another 75 on toiletries. I just can't imagine spending more than 250 more per month to feed 2 school aged children. Which would bring my total to 500. I asked around my office too. 1 coworker is a family of 3, and the other is a family of 4. NONE of them spend more than 400 or so a month on groceries. I guess myself and my coworkers just eat cheap. I'm just at a loss as to how 500/month is not enough and so are my 2 coworkers.
Not if you:
-Plan your meals ahead of time with your store's weekly sales circular in hand
-Buy staples like rice, beans, flour, sugar, etc. in bulk
-Buy meat when it is on sale and freeze what you aren't going to use that week. And stick to lower-priced cuts (i.e. a whole chicken vs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
-Avoid expensive processed and/or prepared food
-Buy in-season fruits and vegetables
-Cook in larger quantities and reheat that week or freeze leftovers
Try having $72.00 for a month for you and your daughter. This is sad. Not for the lack of trying – a mother who has become unemployed and collecting unemployment which is barely enough to cover necessary bills and your told that your only only getting $72.00 a month in food stamps.
What state do you live in? I'm betting it's a tough food stamp state. Many states have liberal food stamp allotments. I"m sorry yours isn't one of them. IMO- it should be a federal across the board thing. It's a shame some states are so bad.
Would love actual numbers. How much unemployment $ do you get and what "neccessary bills" need to be paid??
They talked about feeding children... most, if not all, people on Food Stamps qualify for free meals at school. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Stop with all the "starving children" thing. None of the food stamp money is deducted from families when the children are being taken care of elsewhere.
And Leon... you called for a democratic socialist system. Check with the starving Russians of the 80s and the North Koreans. I'm sure they would tell you differently
Democratic Socialist? Those are the Scandinavian countries. North Korea and USSR were totalitarian governments run by dictators.
People better realize that if they are expecting the government to pay for there food , housing ( sec 8 ) etc , they might as well move to a communist country. Lack of education leads to these people living of the government, they need to change the schools agenda to 8 years of educations and 4 years of learning 2 technical trades for high school maybe we wouldn't have such a large drop our rate , and these people could get jobs. Oh of course maybe the government could get a clue also, and make it a huge tax penalty for corporation's moving all there manufacturing and goods making to other countries. We just need to get a clue , and so does our government. Remember who pays there salaries us in the public sector!
Greatest country in the world and this is an issue!? The end is near.
"If a jar of pasta sauce breaks an entire meal could be lost." Sauce is a luxury. Butter (or margarine) and a little garlic salt and I’m set. The author has had a fortunate life, and sadly it shows.
You are so right. Try eating a mud patty like they do in Somalia to ease the hunger pains.
Ketchup and some sliced tomato is also popular in many countries.
There'a no excuse for spending money on pasta sauce. Chop and saute in some olive oil an onion, a green pepper and a minced clove of garlic. Add three 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce (on sale 4/$1 this week; I bought 8) a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese, about a teaspoon of garlic powder and 2 or 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning (if you don't have any, add in basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and a bay leaf–I'm presuming these are all already on hand; if not, they're usually on sale for $1 each at Walgreen's or Dollar Stores and a bottle lasts months). Simmer in the same pan you sauteed the onion and pepper for about 20 minutes (10 minutes on HIGH in a covered casserole in a microwave oven.) Remove the bay leaf and discard. Salt to taste. Serve with whatever pasta is handy (there is usually some brand no one ever heard of on sale; get several varieties). If you like and have some mushrooms around, add them. I was lucky and had about half a pound of ground chuck last week and sauteed that with the onion and pepper, but it's great without meat, too. The author of this article didn't use very good judgement, possibly because she was never before in a situation where she had to.
i actually make my own pasta sauce from scratch with the tomatoes i have grown myself and then i cann them for the following winter/spring.
I am a full time college student, work full time (50+ hours on salary) and make less than 20000 a year. I own a mobile home, and I applied for foodstamps. I make too much money according to the food stamp office, but yet, I can barely make all the bills, let alone buy food. I might put off 1 bill til the next check, and spend 30 to 40 on food to get me by the next two weeks. Most nights I don't eat. I eat lunch, because people at work say something, and I don't want them knowing how bad it really is. And most of the time lunch is a balogna sandwhich. According to my boss, the economy is too bad for raises, yet the cost on everything has gone up, while my pay has stayed the same. I go to work and home- my classes are online. And I pray that the $40 in gas I put in my car is enough to last the month. I can only afford it out of one check. Our water isn't drinkable, so i buy a gallon of water, and the flavor mixes. I might get a 12 pk of coke, and make it last the month. That's my dessert.
I know the feeling with the raise thing. I haven't gotten one in four years because the boss "can't afford it." Then I see the purchases made at places like Costco and wish I could even afford a membership, let alone all the stuff he buys.
$20,000 a year? No Kids? What in the world are you spending your money on? Could you break down a months worth of expenses??
Barbie said "less than 20" and more importantly ........................
it's none of your business.
Clearly you don't make $20,000 a year or less. Even for a single person, do you know how hard it is to live on?
Before taxes, that's around $1600 a month, but I guarantee she doesn't come home with that much. She probably sees around $1200 a month of that money after taxes. Maybe a little more.
Let's figure on rent – which is different everywhere, but I think you could agree that $600 is a median range for monthly rent. (In my area, typical rent for an apartment is around $1000, but you can rent a single room in a house for around $600.)
Then let's say she's paying a car payment. Now even used car prices are soaring, so it's hard to get a car payment for very cheap, but let's say $250/mo. Now we're down $850 from that $1200, leaving $350 for the month.
Now let's add in utilities. Gas and electric combined, let's say around $75. This is based off of some of my own lowest bills. Now we're down to $275.
She probably has a cell phone or a land line. I'm going to add in around $30 for that. About the cheapest pre-pay phone amounts you can get, and I haven't seen landlines for much cheaper after all the fees. That takes us down to $245.
Let's pretend that she allows herself no luxuries at all – no cable, no internet, no gym, nothing. And let's say she has no other bills. $245 is still very hard to live on for a whole month. That is all your gas and all your food, and every last incidental. If you pop a tire, you don't eat. For a month.
But for one second, let's say she's a normal human, and she has a student loan to pay off. Medicine to buy. Hospital bills, Credit card bills, etc. Even at the full $1600 a month, it's hard to make everything work, and these are very conservative estimates.
Why don't you grow a heart and some understanding before you act like she's doing SO badly with the money she's making. $20,000 is practically poverty level anymore. Heck $30,000 is too. Prices are rising on everything and inflation has risen. This is not 1981. It's 2011. The costs of living have changed a lot.
Curb your judgmental att!tude and MYOB.
my husband and i and our (four kids at the time, now we have five) have lived on 32,000 a year for a few years before his new job. This was not what we brought home either. Our average monthly check after insurance and taxes was just over $2000 a month. I guess you just learn to live with what you have. We actually learned to save money on top of that. We were not on any government programs. We now make 3x that and i have no clue what to do with the extra income sometimes. I went through a period of buying things because I could. It was awesome to have a new tv and new sheets, etc. We still don't have cable or fancy cars. I prefer to pay outright and not have the monthly expense.