September 28th, 2011
09:01 AM ET
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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.

There is no room for waste, and one bad choice is all it takes to go hungry. If a jar of pasta sauce breaks an entire meal could be lost.

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

Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Lunch: PB&J, one apple
Dinner: Black beans & rice (made with: one pepper, two tomatoes), tap water to drink.
Dessert: Small bowl of leftover rice with packet of Splenda sprinkled on top

Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Lunch: Salad (made with: spinach, two tomatoes, 1/2 yellow pepper, one can of tuna)
Dinner: Chicken breast, broccoli and rice, tap water to drink

Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Lunch: Two PB&J sandwiches
Dinner: Pasta (made with: two peppers, three tomatoes) - two helpings, tap water to drink

Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Mid-morning snack: two apples cut up
Lunch: PB&J, apple
Dinner: Black beans & rice - two bowls, tap water to drink

Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Snack: Two cut up apples
Lunch: Salad (spinach, two tomatoes, one pepper, small floret broccoli, one can tuna)
Dinner: Pasta - two helpings, tap water to drink

Breakfast: Farina, one espresso
Lunch: PB&J, bowl of applesauce (made with three apples)
Dinner: Chicken breast, broccoli and rice, tap water to drink

Breakfast: Farina, one espresso
Dinner: Black beans & rice, tap water to drink
Dessert: One apple

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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Filed under: Food Politics • Hunger • News

soundoff (1,201 Responses)
  1. kf

    We were on foodstamps for a few years and I just want to clear up a misconception, at least where we lived. It was not difficult to live on foodstamps, in fact it was far too easy. I could buy anything I wanted and still have a lot left over. We were a family of four so we had more money, but I found that the system gave too much money and no education on how to use it. I was blessed to be raised by a mother who knew how to cook and how to budget so grocery shopping on a budget came easier to me than many and I had the time to cook from scratch so that also made things less expensive. In my opinion foodstamps needs to be run much more strictly, like WIC. It should also include the mandatory education aspect that WIC does so people can learn how to budget, cook healthy meals with less money and use inexpensive ingredients. We are off foodstamps now and my food budget is 60% of what we received on foodstamps. It is tight, but we eat healthy meals full of vegetables and protiens and we even have enough for occasional treats. I will be forever grateful for the time we had on foodstamps. It made it so I could feed my family and it spoiled us at the grocery store at a time when we had no other luxuries, but it needs to be changed. Foodstamps shouldn't be a luxury and it certainly was for our family of four.

    November 16, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  2. BaltoPaul

    I'm not sure what to make of this article. Were the foods the author was making for meals "sacrifices"? My family eats like this all the time. It's called "cooking from scratch." We don't do this to save money; we do it because of my wife's dietary/health issues.

    It is quite inexpensive to eat when you prepare your own food, though. My wife can't have wheat gluten (due to celiac disease, not because of trendy diets), and we tend towards SE Asian and Indian cuisine. Vegetables, rice, and a little meat for the non-vegetarians in the household.

    Beans and rice do not seem like a sacrifice to me. We eat that a couple times a week.

    November 14, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  3. ohioan

    I never had to live on food stamps, but for about 3 months in college, I had about $20/week to live on. This was mid-90's. I lucked out that on Sat/Sun my job actually provided one large meal mid afternoon so I usually only had to provide breakfast those days and took home a small bowl of leftovers to eat that night. Where I lived, the water was horrible so I did have to buy 3 gallons/week for drinking, though at the time it was 48cents/gallon. I shopped sales but generally it was 2 bags salad and a bag of carrots (each $1 back then) loaf bread $1, pack of cotto salami $2, 6 bananas @ $1, dozen eggs $2 because I got them from the local free-range farm, 1 big bag lays' chips (was $2 back then) one loaf of cheese bread from the bakery $3 (my splurge) and the last $3-4 was on whatever I could find on sale that week whether it was $1 packs of hot dogs, .75 cent boxes of totinos pizza rolls, or maybe generic oreos.

    November 5, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  4. Thinking things through

    I could live on $30 a week and I did do so (accounting for inflation it was a LOT less when I did). Is it heathy: No. Is it something i could lose weight on: No (not without feeling starved). Okay if I could grow most of my own food, yes, I could eat healthy and without feeling starved, and not gain weight I seriously don't need due to the health implications, but I don't get enough sunlight here to do that.

    November 4, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  5. MJwilson

    I actually took the food stamp challenge and learned a lot. The first thing I learned is that it is EASY for folks to talk about how easy it is to live on $30 a week; they all have a plan on how to buy this or that and there it is, it's not so hard! The second thing I learned is that doing it is MUCH harder than you think – and it is hard ALL WEEK LONG. The third thing is the judgmental and demeaning attitudes towards poor people – as well as those taking the challenge. The fourth thing is all of the things that I missed while on the challenge, as well as all of the things that I really didn't need.,0,5576387.story

    November 4, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Coupon-a-holic

      Thanks for the link to your article...loved it!

      November 20, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  6. MarriedMomOfTwo

    The way we have learned to stretch our budget is to start couponing. All of my trips to the grocery store end in saving 50% and up and I strive to get to the point where it's nearly free to shop. I want to be able to share what we have with others while continuing to provide for my family. Anyone interested in learning about couponing to stretch your dollar feel free to check out the page on facebook that got me started. NH/VT Coupon Exchange, Don't let the VT/NH part chase you away feel free to message me for help ~Danielle R

    November 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

    Why is it that all these people that do these experiments do so for only 1 week? Try it for a full month (or more) to get a better idea of what it is really like. The author of this piece is not the only one, I remember reading about one of our elected officials doing it also...again for 1 week!

    November 3, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • barrettclan

      My thoughts exactly.

      November 3, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • JLeAnn71

      It's not that hard to figure the food budget for the month with what you have to spend.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Ed G.

      I agree. A week is too short to understand. Also, if they really want to feel the pain, they should not be able to use a refrigerator because people who live in their car and those who are homeless can't use one.

      November 4, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  8. Bayaraa123

    I usually spend 70$ a week. It's enough for me.

    November 3, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  9. Kathy Mamanakis

    There are six in our family. ($ 30×6 = $180)
    My average grocery bill is around $170. I even get ice cream and juice. Maybe it is just more difficult shopping for one. And trust me none of us goes hungry. I must admit l am not including my husband's fast food lunches or the kids' school lunches. I figure that adds about $15/day. Wow.

    November 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Dani

      The wheels are starting to turn. Once you start to do the math, it all begins to add up. I know, I previously also didn't consider the cost of my kids' or husband's lunch. But every dollar really does add up to quite a lot.

      November 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  10. JoeD

    I have lived on food stamps with children. I can stretch a dollar until Washington is unrecognizable. I won't say that you will eat the healthiest food, for instance – dark meat chicken as opposed to white meat – but you will absolutely NOT be hungry. You will still cook in quantity;but, freeze for much later. Learn to change leftovers: I buy small smoked picnic hams when they are on sale. I buy several and freeze them. I slow cook one and fix collards or some other cheap garden green using the ham drippings to season them. I also fix some potato salad. Left over ham is carefully stored, including the bones. The next days finds me making ham salad or ham and egg salad for sandwiches. It does not take much of the ham. The next day, ham and potato casserole with sweet peas. Next day, I cook a large pot of beans using the bones and whatever is left of the ham to season them. Beans and greens are cheap and they contain a lot of iron and protein. That's four days for $6 or less for the meat. By the way, you can eat two of your three meals at day from this. This is how my husband and I eat. Chicken is easy. You can find fryers, two to a bag, whole on sale sometimes. When you get home, cut both fryers up and section them out for freezing. I put the breasts and legs (two of each in a bag) for frying. I put the the thighs and wings (two of each) together with the wishbones. I put the necks and backs together. I kept a good resealable freezer container for the livers, gizzards and hearts. An alternative method is to put like pieces together. All packages go in the freezer. The reason for the resealable container, there is only one liver, gizzard and heart per fryer. I would save them from shopping trip to shopping trip. When you have enough, it makes a special meal. There are lots and lots of tricks. Unfortunately, too many of the people today were raised after the introduction of convenience foods. I came from a time when everything was cooked from scratch. The Food Stamp people need to hire a bunch of us old fogies to teach the younger generation how to live better on less.

    November 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • MsB

      JoeD- You are so right. People need to be educated on how to make a good wholesome meal from scratch. My mother and grandmother taught me (I'm only 29) but I do it every week. It saves money and keeps you healthier because you're eating more wholesome foods, not over processed junk and frankly it tastes better! A little planning, cutting some coupons, and some education will get people SO far!

      November 3, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • chaletx

      No freezer in a homeless person's car. Try again.

      November 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • Dani

        chaletx, those are good tips. Not everyone on food stamps is homeless and lives in a car without a freezer. It is very painful to struggle to buy food, regardless of whether or not you are homeless (which is also painful and brings added challenges). There is a lot to learn, many useful tips here, no need to bash people for sharing something of their life that has worked for them. We can learn from each other. It sounds like these tips are coming from all around the country, from all ages and walks of life. Not all tips will apply to everyone. That doesn't mean they are not useful or heartfelt.

        November 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  11. Ken Barr

    I haven't had to use food stamps and at one time in my life I scraped to get by. I sympathize with people struggling to buy food for themselves or a family. I do have a question if someone can provide an answer. I live in Tennessee where there is a sales tax (9.25 or higher) and no income tax. In the above example living on $30.00 a week would be less in Tennessee due to the sales tax. Are food stamps exempt from sales tax or is sales tax calculated into monetary amount of the food stamps?

    November 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • military mom x2

      i had to jump in on your reply to even offer a response which i apologize for.....
      whaat the heck happened to our society to even get here? i could not even imagine raising children today and help them have non-judgmental reactions to this chaos over a simple thing of food. No wonder we have problems with the healhcare, is it not a bigger problem than supplying food? Are you kidding maaaaaking people limit the food they are distributed but we offer methadone clinincs?: along the way some people have forgotten the things we support in place of food for our young and it totally disgusts me. food is not a luxury item, but the suboxine you offer to people every month is. somewhwwhere we want to do better, and those people in agreement with me need to step up for every hungry child americaa now produces!

      November 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
      • military mom x2

        sorry abou t all the mis grammars and spelling, this kept kicking me off line

        November 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • kenbarlow05

          No problem with grammar. It is hard for most families to meet there nutritional needs. My point was people who live in Tennessee and have food stamps for say $30.00 cannot buy $30.00 worth of food. $30.00 worth of food stamps buys less due to sales tax. I don't believe officials have considered that $30.00 only buys $27.78 worth of food in Tennessee.

          November 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
      • NYKat

        Ken – Here in NY all food items that are not prepared are tax free. We pay tax on things like toilet paper, toothpaste etc but groceries are exempt. Are you saying that groceries such as pasta, produce, meat etc are taxable in Tn.? I have a hard enough time not having to pay tax on my groceries and cannot imagine having to do it where I would have to add taxes to it. I don't even know what to say.

        November 3, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • kenbarlow05

          If you can think of it there is a sales tax on it in TN. TN. is also a poor state with no minimum wage laws. If an employer is not subject to Federal MW laws they may pay whatever amount.

          November 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • barrettclan

          In ANY state food stamps are NOT taxable. In Tennessee, in New Mexico, In Ohio, In South Dakota, you get the message, no state is allowed to charge tax on food stamps (called SNAP benefits now). And, when someone uses a coupon, either manufacturers coupon, a store coupon, or a marked off thing on a product, there is no tax on that and if a store is charging tax on it then they are in the wrong and can be penalized for it.

          I just wanted to clarify that.

          November 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • S.Smith

      Mr.Barr, since you live in Tenn. then you are aware of Food City thats where I work AND THERE ARE NO TAX ON FOOD STAMPS ,that is CRAZY if you ask me (my opinion of course) The people even get angry at me when they buy something that has a automatic coupon on it and some times they have to pay the tax on the coupon.PLEASE they are spending $200 to $400 on food and they complain about owing a quarter for tax......see what I mean...sorry just had to vent.

      November 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
      • kenbarlow05

        Thank you for the information. I appreciate it. You may vent to me anytime. I believe people need to vent especially to people who understand what they are venting about.

        November 3, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Jimmy Harris

      Ken I have worked in grocery stores in Ohio, Alabama, and Now in Florida. In states where you have to pay tax on food, it is exempt on food stamp purchases.

      November 13, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  12. Cherish

    I talked about doing this as someone with celiac disease. It's not easy, but what would you do if you couldn't buy bread or pasta?!

    November 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • sally

      I would guess potatoes, rice, quinoa, corn, dried beans...pretty much the same grains and starches that are in gluten free diets at any price point.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  13. Peter Wexler

    I am working on getting my food costs to $30 per week. Bean burgers! More potatoes! Gotta have veggies, too, but they're not cheap.

    I really want to move toward a vegan diet, not to save money, but it may save me money, if done right. I want to be part of the crowd that does no harm to animals. It's time.

    I also have no money. So, it's time to cut costs!

    November 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • kenbarlow05

      I appreciate your desire to alter your eating habits to vegan. I have been a ovolacto vege since 1975. It wasn't difficult to be a vege at that time because the price of fruit and produce was reasonable. As the economy expanded I found it difficult to maintain my vege life style as the price of fruit and veges increased. However my career allowed my wages to increase due to promotions and my vege lifestyle became easier to maintain. Now I am retired and maintaining my vege lifestyle which I refuse to compromise. It is more difficult now due to the increase in prices for fruit, veges, grains, etc. I didn't mean to bore you with details. I just wanted to inform you that being vegan or vege today is not inexpensive. Good on you for maintaining a healthy lifestyle amidst financial problems.

      November 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Mary

      Peter, you will find going Vegan more satisfying in your heart than in your wallet. AS a Vegan I sometimes think its MORE expensive actually. In general, it seems like the healthier you TRY and eat, the more expensive it is! :P Twinkies and that crap should be 10 bucks a box! :P

      November 3, 2013 at 12:07 am |
      • kenbarlow05

        I agree.

        November 3, 2013 at 9:19 am |
      • NYKat

        I agree that the healthier food should be less expensive than the junk food, snack foods and convenience foods. I have a heart condition and there are a lot of things I can't (or shouldn't be eating) have but so often I find myself debating between having enough food or eating healthier and not having enough food. It's really tough these days.

        November 3, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • cvr

      Peter, there is a great book called Eating Vegan for $4 a Day...It has lots of great tips and strategies...and recipes too...

      November 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Preman

      Cabbage, carrots and onions!!

      November 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Dani

      In my opinion and experience, it depends how much you have to spend, and how much time you have to cook, and how much willingness you have to make things from scratch, and even grow it yourself. You can join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which is frequently an abundant and inexpensive source of fresh produce (depends what part of the country you live in). Or set up some barter relationships with local farmers. Another thing to keep in mind is that after your body adjusts to being vegan (mostly raw fruits and veg, grains, nuts and seeds) you will need less food than before. Your body needs to clear out the gunk from eating previously bad food - this gunk has prevented you from absorbing full nutrition from your food. So, once you have adjusted, you will get maximum nutrition from less food, require less food to be satisfied and healthy. Go for it!

      November 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  14. grocerygirl

    Wow a lot of interesting comments here. I read for about an hr then scrolled through the rest. So I work at a winco. Which is a great place to work. If you live by one you are very fortunate. Good prices, if you do it right 30 bucks can go a long way. The other storesin my area are so over priced its sickening. Which is why winco is such a blessing. I am also very fortunate to be employed there. My husband and I own a home and have one child with one on the way. We work hard for what we have and I gladly pay my taxes to help others, for I know that many many people suffer out there. I grew up in house where both my parents worked and we had assistance. We ate modestly and never had to skip meals. Both my parents grew up poor in households with 6 kids. They were both very good at bargain shopping and making things stretch. I was fortunate to be taught well in these areas. Now things are tight for my husband and I. I coupon religiously and have an opportunity to watch for sales as I check people out, so I am usually able to take advantage. I try my best to keep a back stock, which helps in hard times. I also buy all my meat on coupon, which means it expires in one to 3 days and take it home and freeze it. As a cashier I have seen both sides of food stamps, those that struggle and those that waste. You can all argue till you are blue in the face but both sides do exsist. Ive seen families who budget to the dollar to feed their family of 4, to the point they have had to take things off, ive seen familes spend their food stamps on steak and shrimp and soda and snacks. Ive seen people covered in tattoos and have fancy phones buy candy and frozen pizza and soda. Ive seen the lady with 6kids, whose husband owned a construction company that went under pull out her ebt card and coupons trying to make her budget work. Ive seen the 22yr old with a half shaved head and bright blue hair and 3 kids buy 200 bucks worth of crap food and pulls an extra 40 off her debit when she pays for her beer. Ive seen a family of 7 buying healthy food and a few snacks for the kids and proudly whip out their ebt card, while the person behind them with 1 kid is struggeling to buy their 20 bucks worth of ramen noodles and some hamburger. Ive seen people so embarressed by their ebt card they dont even want me to see it. There is the family I see every month shop very sensably who spend half of it one month on their kids birthday party. Trying to give their child something special for once. Ive seen the people who come in and buy 2 cases of red bull on their food stamps leaving them 15 bucks. And yes for some reason where I live certain energy drinks are covered by ebt. It can be very hard sometimes to not judge these people but I try my best to remember that even the ones who look the worst arent showing their whole story to me. The sad truth is there is good andbad in every situation. Some abuse some dont. Plain and simple. As far as a 30 dollar budget for one person it can be done. I have to say the person who wrote the article probably has never actually been in many of the situations weve seen here today. They were trying though, and yes at times they came off as insensative and clueless but its hard to walk a mile in someone elses shoes....... when there isnt a true need to. They were just trying to see what it could be like and while it didnt seem that they tried very hard (expresso and such) we all have things we see as something we cant live without, that is until we have no other choice. This person obviously was not to that point. Only living that way for a week is not a reality at all, but I think it proved a point in some ways that we should be greatful for what we do have and try our best to help those who dont. And that maybe we should be more understanding of each other which I think is what this person was trying to do. Even if it came off wrong to many people.

    November 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • military mom x2

      you wrote an awesome asssessment of our situation currently in america, good job...and without any judgement or bias makes it even more awesome...good job

      November 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • RC


      November 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • pattysboi

      It is NOT your job to scrutinize what people purchase. Believe me, if I saw you doing that with my grocery order, I WOULD be talking to your manager, right then and there.

      November 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
      • cashiertn

        then you are welcome to use a self checkout lane, or do you want your cashier to try and ring up your order with their eyes closed?

        November 13, 2013 at 11:44 am |
        • Coupon-a-holic

          Touche' ! :)

          November 20, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Coupon-a-holic

      Absolutely LOVE your response! You know, I am a food stamp user, and while someone might see me buying shrimp , soy drinks, OJ with calcium added, tons of broccoli & spinach (which are often all expensive) and wonder at the amount of food stamps used, they honestly can't know that I am feeding a child with life threatening food allergies. Since dairy is one of his allergies, these are the things I buy to make up for the need for calcium. Others might buy a bag of candies because they are diabetic & need them for emergencies, or an expensive cake, because they desperately want to do SOMETHING for that child's birthday, but have no money for a present. I'm just saying this because it is true that many are embarrassed about pulling out that card, as they ARE constantly judged about everything they buy. One day I found a few small bags of candy that were in the "discontinued" section–costing mere pennies. Since I have no car, and no money for outings to the movies, etc, I try to plan small special things as rewards for good grades, good behavior etc. (I know, I know...not great to reward with food, but that's another topic entirely). Having no CASH to spend that day, I only bought FOOD items. When the cashier was ringing me out, those reduced things rang up as "cash". I questioned it, as they most certainly were food, so she called her manager over to look into it, & they had a debate right then & there, discussing how f/s users shouldn't be able to use them for any junk foods, soda (wanted to hide the ginger ale that I buy to settle my sensitive stomach)., talking as if I wasn't there. And they were LOUD....Let's let EVERYONE IN THE STORE know that I use food stamps, shall we? It was so embarrassing, that I wanted to just walk out....but I stood there and "took it", because I had to walk a couple miles to get home & didn't want to have to come back another day. To sum this up, COMPASSION is the name of the game, and if we have none, how can we live with ourselves?

      (sorry if this seems confusing...pretty sick today)

      November 20, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  15. Sharzad

    My family lived on food stamps and school lunches for 2 years when we first came to the US. It was difficult, but doable. However, because the food my sister and I got at school through the free lunch program was very unhealthy, we each gained about 40 pounds in less than a year. There were other things that one would not think about either. Sure it effected our social life, but every aspect of poverty did that. But we were not alone, as many around us were in the same situation, and we commiserated and got tips from each other too. Did you know you can make something that sorta tastes like tomato soup from boiling lots of ketchup packets and saltine crackers (which fast food places and food courts and even the free lunch program used to give out for free) with water? And saving money meant something different too. I once got yelled at and lectured, for buying a lollipop using a quarter I had found on the ground instead of saving the money I had found and contributing to something "we actually need." And occasionally we'd come across someone who was collecting food stamps and/or welfare checks while they were not as poor as us. And it would piss me off, and make me resent them. Looking back, it's not that those people were rich, but they were getting this money on top of the little money they did have by gaming the system and using it to get themselves treats that those of us who really needed food stamps could not ever afford to have, kinda like my lollipop. Still, food stamps (tax payer money) are to prevent people from starving or becoming malnourished, not for giving people treats that they cannot otherwise afford. I wish instead of cuts, they could save the program money by investigating and weeding out people who are gaming it to get treats as opposed to necessities. Maybe there should be a way for stores to report or flag perceived abuse.

    November 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • NYKat

      I know I might get criticized for this comment and some might see it as policing or something of that nature. I am on disability because of my heart and therefore my income is very low with little opportunity of increasing it. I have been on food stamps in the past and I am going to have to go on them again pretty soon. When I had some money saved I chose not to take advantage of the program because I felt that others "NEEDED" it more than I did. Having said that I seriously believe that there needs to be a system where food stamps will not pay for Twinkies, shrimp, soda and other unnecessary and unhealthy foods. I'll even take it further and say that tv dinners, processed packaged foods and convenience foods should be eliminated from the approved list of food stamp foods. Food stamps should only be allowed to be used for healthy nutritional food. It kills me when I go shopping and see that I can buy frozen sausages loaded with sodium and preservatives for $1 a box but I have to pay $3 for a small bag of frozen vegetables. I can get potato chips on sale for a buy 1 get 1 deal almost any day of the month but how often do we see that kind of a deal in the produce dept. for fresh fruit? I know at one time (I don't know if it was national or if it is still being done) the EBT card was accepted at fast food restaurants so people would flock to the local burger joint on the first of the month and spend half of their monthly budget on burgers and fries. In my area there are numerous little stores that will give people cash in exchange for food stamps. They ring up an amount as "grocery" to be able to get the EBT card to go through and then give them back cash at something like .75 for every food stamp dollar. It's really sad the way the system is abused. With today's technology it shouldn't be so easy.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • barrettclan

        What people need to be aware of and remember is that an EBT card is not just a food stamp card. There is also money put on that card, cash that the person uses for bills, rent, etc. So, when you see someone using an EBT card and getting cash back it is because they were using the CASH part of it, not the food stamp part of it. It is totally unfair to judge a person using their EBT card, assuming that they are getting cash back from the food stamp portion of it.

        November 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
        • JoeD

          It's not judging when someone walks up to you and says, "I'll sell you $300.00 worth of my food stamps for $150.00 cash." It happened in the store I managed all the time.

          November 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
      • Dani

        Your comment about the relative cheapness of junk vs. the higher cost of healthy, nutritious food is important. I am trying to shift my children to a healthier diet and teach them about the costs of food. One day, to make a few points, I decided to make them potato chips from scratch. Not that potato chips from scratch are healthy. But they are fresher and taste better. They take a long time to make. I had no special tools - just a sharp knife, a cutting board, and a good eye. The thing that most surprised my children was that I could get such a huge quantity of chips from one medium (fist-sized) yukon gold potato. Because when they first looked at that potato, they said, "that's not enough!" So this is a different sort of point, partly about cost (that you can make it more cheaply yourself). And partly to show them that there is hardly ANY potato at all in that 1 oz snack size of potato chips. I actually wish that junk and processed food could be entirely banned from the marketplace, as unhealthy as it is. At least stop calling it "food."

        November 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
      • CJ

        What's unhealthy about shrimp? It's expensive, yes, but it's a "whole food." (So is hamburger. So is chicken.)

        The problem with restricting stamps to "healthy" foods is that these foods usually require you to cook from scratch. Many stamp recipients are "the working poor;" they may be holding down 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. They come home, they have neither the time nor the energy to cook a meal from scratch. So they use frozen (and frozen veggies, for example, are likely to be fresher than the fresh kind) and packaged (like dinner kits).

        That much said, I do agree that soda and candy should not be purchasable with stamps.

        March 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
  16. Steve Felt

    This producer is a moron and has painted an erroneous picture. I eat healthy every day and spend less than $30 a week and I'm a 230 lb man. Hire me and I will teach everyone how to do it and buy food that's high in protein and fiber with no junk food. I'm diabetic and lost 35 lbs on my diet and never feel malnourished.

    November 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • rj1443

      hell yeah, cutting crew checking in!

      November 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  17. rj1443

    First off this is expecting the idea that they have no salary what so ever. If you aren't working a job (and i'm not at this time... but i also don't qualify for unemployment) and are just riding on the benefits you are probably the lowest form of human.... a pure leach. I could get by on minimum wage because I wouldn't purchase worthless expenditures like cigs, boose, and unnecessary unhealthy food. Second..... WHY THE HELL WAS SHE DRINKING ESPRESSO. that is easily half of her weekly money gone right there.... buy some chock ful of nuts or some Folgers coffee like the rest of us. finally.... "it cut into social life also" of course it did.... you are on benefits... borrowed time and money from all the rest of the hard working Americans.... YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO FIND A JOB! it isn't the job of hard working Americans to provide for your food, clothing, shelter, and apparently your social life.

    November 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Ruben

      You apparently, do not have an espresso maker. Making a espresso at home is relatively inexpensive, about the same as regular coffee. The problem with people who are used to espresso is that regular coffee tastes so watered down.

      November 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Dani

        Yes, and stove top espresso makers are extremely cheap (about $5). You can make espresso from any coffee bean - just grind it very fine. This is no more an extravagance than a cup of coffee. I thought it was interesting that the author pointed out that the espresso helped her get through the day when she lacked energy from hunger (no doubt due to her relative inexperience at trying to get by on a food stamp budget).

        November 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  18. rwee

    Lived on a LOT less while in college. Roman is your friend. At the time 10 for $1 basically I needed the noodles. A little chicken or beef or pork, frozen vegetables corn starch and spices (buy them after Christmas in the gift racks) and broth. You now have a quick stir fry.

    Buy Flour, dried beans, rice, potatoes, yeast. Bread cost me almost nothing to bake, margarine instead of butter. Oatmeal for breakfast. And when on sale, ham. You get lots of meals out of a ham, plus lunch meat, plus ham and bean soup. Same with whole chickens, with flour make noodles or use roman a few frozen vegetable you have chicken noodle soup, cook down the broth and make gravy over mash potatoes, So I get two chicken breast, two legs, thighs, two wings, a broth from the rest, all for less than a buck a pound (skip the organic free-range chicken) the lady here never learned to cook and how to plan.

    November 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Connor

      As a college student, I, too, was unmoved by the "plight" of supporting one person on $30 per week on food. My girlfriend and I spend less than that each week on food for the two of us, and we're fine. If you're supporting yourself on $30 per week for food, you're hardly living large, but it's more than doable for one or two people.

      November 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  19. james65807

    Oats and Raisins Before my stepdad married my mother he had that a lot.

    November 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  20. whiteybug

    I noticed some comments mentioning that with $30 each, with 3 or more people in the house, they are able to make do with this. That's $90 to make do with... with $90 you can buy some meat along with other things to create meals with – and you just need to divide it up for 3 people, and you may possibly be able to get by. Yes, you won't get by very well... but you probably will get by. With one person on $30 a week, I don't think you could purchase any meat, or anything vegetable wise – that would create more than a couple of meals. So if you can get by with just a couple of meals a week – then I guess you can do it. But for real people that generally need to eat something at a minimum of 2 times a day, it's highly unlikely that you can eat for an entire week on $30 – unless eating bread and peanut butter every meal would suffice. :-/

    November 2, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  21. Dana

    I'm not discounting that $30 a week is difficult but it can be done and done well. Although I am not a slave to government EBT, I live on a very fixed income which only allows my family of 3 to live on less than that per person per week. I calculated this past week which included shrimp and grits, beef tips w / rice, London broil with potatoes and corn and lentil soup / sandwiches for lunch and our total cost was $76.00 – take advantage if sales, be creative, never let food waste and you will surprise yourself!! Ps- yes we had Coffee with cream every morning. ;-)

    November 2, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  22. IndyMason

    You are obviously doing it wrong if you are only receiving 30 dollars a week in food stamps.
    Check with the experts:

    November 2, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • amdyhoag

      Not sure what that's about, but my daughter (a single mom with a deadbeat ex) and 3 granddaughters get $516 a month.... do the math. It's $30 a week per person at a 4.3 weeks per month calculation.

      November 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  23. Mary wise

    Wow, what a strategy. However, leave off the espresso so that we may get a better look
    @ this reality. The last thing anyone with a shortage of food will think about is espresso, come on!!

    November 2, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  24. Randy

    First of all, I have worked my whole life. When I was married in 1980, our shopping budget was $20.00. That was for a newborn, Wife, and myself. We did what we had to. Welfare is not meant to be a forever program, it was meant to allow families to "Get By" until new work could be found. This is a career for some people and then they have the nerve to complain about necessary cuts to the program and ALL Government programs. Get up off your Backsides and work, or allow the state to train you for a job at tax payers expense. This is done all the time but, you have to be willing. That is the problem with our country, everyone thinks everything should be given to them. You are not entitled unless you work for it!

    November 2, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • barrettclan

      Are you hiring? Maybe you could offer a real answer to people by hiring someone. If you don't have a job to offer, and are in an area with high unemployment, then shut up.

      Another question for you ... what do you suppose someone like me, who is disabled, or someone who is elderly and cannot find a job do? Sell our blood? Or how about standing on a street corner? Oh yeah, I think I'll do that and bop someone over the head with my cane while I'm at it. Now, think about the kids ... what are they suppose to do? Starve? Would that make your life any easier?

      November 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  25. Sherri

    Things have changed and im paying for it greatly and will be paying for it the rest of my life..I feel sorry for the few who have came upon hard times due to unfortunate circumstances. ..others are due to poor life choices and for them I have no sympathy. ...

    November 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  26. barrettclan

    I live on about $43/week ($175/mo) in SNAP benefits. I also go to the local food bank. When my kids were little and I was in college they counted my grants against me (yes, the ones spent on tuition and books) and we received $69/mo food stamps along with WIC and food banks every week. I also got welfare but that basically paid the rent and utilities. Anyway, when we survived on that there were many days when all I would eat/drink was tea with sugar in it. My kids ate first and I am thankful that one got free breakfast and lunch at school and the other one was fed by his day care provider.I always let them eat first and if there was enough I would eat.

    Nowadays I am older, on disability ($7000/year), and survive on the $43/week in SNAP benefits as my entire disability check goes to rent and utilities. I don't even own a car. It is hard but I can do it. One thing I don't do that I noticed the author did was drink espressos or use splenda, which both cost more than regular coffee and sugar. Farina cost more than a container of rolled oats. Chicken thighs (which have as much nutrition as the breasts) are much cheaper and you can get enough for a week's worth for the same amount as 2 decent size breasts. Fresh produce is a lot more expensive than a jar of store brand pasta sauce and the sauce will last you for more than 2 meals. Some types of frozen fish is also cheap and it provides a good amount of nutrition. A can of tuna is about $1.25 and you can make that last for two meals. I could do a whole make over of this person's meal options and give him more for his buck.

    November 2, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Lee

      I have 7 kids at home with me and my husband we dont get food stamps but live on a fixed income thats 9 of us living on 550 a month. and towrds the end of themonth me and my husband forgo eating so the kids have food. they say we make too much to qualify for foodstamps. show me the money.. total we have 2900 a month that covers our car payment, house, electric, gas water and garbage. Chrsitmas? my kids are lucky to get one things each but they are good with it and are understanding, my oldest at home is 17 and just got a job and he helps out around the house . that 550 includes paper products and hygiene products

      November 2, 2013 at 10:16 am |
      • rj1443

        lee..... who ever told you to have seven kids when you can't afford it. It isn't our job as tax payers to pay for your terrible decisions. people on welfare have to think about the other side.... where exactly do you expect that money comes from. It isn't some magical money tree that the government gets free benefits from.

        November 2, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • Susan

        I don't know where you live that says $550/month for a family of 9 is too much to qualify for assistance. I think there are holes in your story, or you aren't talkin to the right people. I own a grocery store and there are families that come on with fewer people in the household that get $600 on food stamps. It is very difficult for me to feel sympathy for anyone 'surviving' on food stamps because I see so much of it spent on soda and candy or prepared frozen foods.

        November 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • sally

        You have too many kids. Unless Bernie Madoff or somebody like that recently stole your millions you have no one to blame but yourself. How dare you expect responsible taxpayers to support your family. It's shameful.

        November 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • ferrariz807

          How dare you tell someone they have too many kids???? Kids are worth way more than the best job in the world. I only have one, and right now I can afford her care, and I'd rather have 10 kids and live on as little as we need to afford them. So my kids won't have Ipods, and they'll learn the value of a dollar. When did people decide that money was more important than children?? Why do so many Americans think that if you don't have money you don't have the right to the greatest light in the lives of parents???

          November 5, 2013 at 7:10 am |
  27. JLeAnn71

    November 2, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  28. JLeAnn71

    I feel I need to comment about all the negativity people are giving. There are reasons why some people are not able to receive benefits. There are also reasons why others can be to proud to even apply. How DARE all of you who speak negatively. You must have never needed help on anything. I was a single mother for a great number of years. Oh, I was married too, to an abusive person. I got out put myself through college and took care of my kids. True, there are people who abuse the system. But I do know the agencies are creating solutions to solve this. One thing that you should know the SNAP program has been reduced to some that means it will be gone. But why would you negative people care.

    November 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Hopeismyname

      I completely agree with JLeAnn71 – I have been extrememly fortunate and have never needed extra help but a dear friend of mine left a rough marriage with her daughter and decided that the only way to succeed was to go to college. She moved to a college town so that she could utilize public transportation, she lived in subsidized housing, got food stamps, her daughter got free meals at schools and those two – mother AND daughter – worked their tails off. The daughter did well in school and went straight on to college, the mom is now a teacher and loves teaching kids...ALL in innner cities or in the most rural areas. These services have a wonderful purpose and really help those that need it. Somehow there needs to be some policing or governance so that the offenders loose benefits...but I fear that if you suddenly strip people of their services that they've had for years and will find an increase in crime. I work in an elementary school where kindergarteners routinely talk about cops, daddy's in jail, mommy got parole...and proudly "I get free lunch and you have to pay" there needs to be a bigger intervention her or our town will implode from all the anger. I wish I had an answer rather than just an observation but I agree with JLeAnn71...not everyone getting services is bag

      November 2, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  29. Kara Ape

    Ok, seriously. Buying crap and eating crap will only make your healthcare costs more in the long run. I eat on a budget and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the United States with one of thee highest sales tax. I shop at Aldi and it's doable.

    1 Bag of Rice $1.50
    1 Bag of Beans $1.00
    2 Cartons of Eggs $4.00
    1 Container of cottage cheese $1.50
    2 Canisters of Oatmeal $2.50
    1 Jar of Peanut Butter $2.50
    1 Jar of Jelly $1.50
    loaf of bread $1.50
    3 Bags of frozen vegetables 3.50
    chicken drumsticks value back $4.50
    1 box of pasta .99
    1 jar of pasta sauce .99
    ground beef 1 lb 2.99
    bananas .33 pound.

    November 2, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Sara

      Must be in Cook County too :)

      November 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • penny246

      Where do you live?
      1 bag rice $1.50?
      2 carton of eggs?

      1 bag of rice where I live is at least $5.00 and eggs are $3-5 per carton. Everything you listed is about double where I live.

      November 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  30. sherry

    You can do it. Refried beans with tortillas make great burritos amd are cheap ..SOS ..take 1/2 meat saute with onion...then add flour to make a roux...then add HOT milk till think and smooth like gravy..add paprika and salt and pour over toast, grilled cheeses and tomato soup with elbow macaroni in it, 1.00 pancake mixes for breakfast....1.00 oats for oatmeal for breakfasts. Ramen noodle and toast. Cheap spaghetti sauce with the rest of the elbow macaroni..goulash. Hamburger over rice. Mac n heeseade with hamburger is always filling.

    November 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  31. Open Eyes

    Stop judging others. I worked and made about $64k a year. Then after 7 years–lay offs. When I was working I had no help because I made too much. I had to pay for bills, mortgage, and day care for two children. And now that I am not working I am eligible for benefits and I will use them. I have been working since age 16. At 34 I think I am entitled to some benefits at this point in my life. I have not even applied for stamps. I'm just using their fathers $200/month and making do. I recently sent him packing because with little education and a criminal history he can't find a job. I said well they will take all the great people with degrees and skills before the people with a history of poor choices. So I had to tell him to leave. Yep. The country creates the single parent household. No work to be found for the less educated or the super educated like myself. And at the end of the day, I can better care for me and two children than I can for me, two children, and their father. He had to go because he eats the most. It sounds could hearted but it is the truth. I couldn't afford him and he couldn't afford himself.

    November 2, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • sally

      "The country creates the single parent household." No, you created it by marrying a deadbeat with a criminal background. You can't blame the government because YOU married the wrong guy. Grow up.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • barrettclan

        Wow, Sally, have you any compassion at all? I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you probably don't know anyone who is poor or anyone who has ever made a life decision that didn't work out well. I certainly hope that you never experience it because I don't think you have enough backbone to actually be in a situation where you need help.

        November 3, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
        • sally

          In fact I HAVE been there. I worked myself out of it. And when I got to the other side I realized the reason I was always broke and behind and messed up was because of my own thoughtless, reckless choices. Sometimes it takes some suffering for people to "get it", charity is not always the answer.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • BaltoPaul

          Sorry, I have to agree with Sally, here. I would sympathize with the original poster, right up until she made the comment that "the country" creates single parent households.

          She chose to start a family with someone who had no job skills and a criminal history. Granted, people make bad choices, and people deserve second chances, but it was not "the country" that is responsible for her decisions. She is.

          November 14, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  32. V Josey

    I am so sorry but this was done all wrong. If you have $30 a week for food that would be $120 a month for one person, right? And after reading this story all I have to say is learn how to cook and shop. Because I feed my family of four (4), for $240 a month and we eat really good. We are not on FS or Government aid, but I did grow up poor, with a single mother of five children in Detroit who did her best to stay off those things. So I learned the hard way that you can live good on a lot less. If you cant do it then find someone who can and learn from them.

    November 2, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  33. justanotherchildofgod

    I answered other. I learned how to stretch a dollar for food from my mother a long time ago, so I know how to "stretch" meals, but I am always aware of how blessed I am. I make a fairly decent living for my area, and my mortgage is lower than any decent rent place because I took out the mortgage so many years ago. Still, I have noticed that my money buys less and less and less. When my salary goes up, my taxes and insurance and utilities all go up three times more, as if someone said, "Oh, the University where most of the city works gave a raise, we need to raise all our rates". I generally buy the same things, so I notice when "twice as much money" buys "half the stuff." Eggs were .89 now they are $1.89. Bread is the same way. A pound of cheap ground meat was $1.50. Not it is $3.00. I see people in the grocery store just stand and CRY. I remember a friend in high school who told me coming to my house was like Christmas. In her entire life she never "ate" like we did, every day, unless it was a holiday. Her mother had 7 kids because her father's faith said no birth control. Then her father skipped out on his family and didn't pay his child support. She said a "snack" was a raw potato.I remember working a "vacation bible school" on the East Side of Austin, Tx back in the 70's, before school lunch programs extended into the summer, and instead of handing out "snow cones and cookies" we handed out two sandwiches to each child. One was PBJ the other had lunch meat. Most kids hid them instead of eating them right away. When I asked about it, the people running the little mission explained, "This may be the only meal their family gets at the end of the month. They'll take it home and share it. You may have 6 people sharing those 2 sandwiches." For the most part, all of their families worked. Minimum wage back then didn't pay the bills any better than it does today.

    November 2, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Barbara Anne Kirkman

      I am 70 years old, living on a small Social Security income, less than $11,000.00. I buy most of my food at the Dollar Store, but, this is not healthy living. And yes, I spend less than $30.00/week. Between rent, utilities, co-pays for my medical, and the reduction in food stamps, ($14.00/ month) it is impossible to say that as a senior citizen, I am living well. And there are os so many more like me, in this situation.No one wants to hire me, my age is the primary factor. I will however, survive.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  34. aj

    Graduate from high school and you won't have that problem.
    If you can't graduate you obviously thought drugs or misbehaving was a great idea, and I do not feel sorry for you. Stop listening to rap music.

    November 2, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • ramy

      You are definitely what is wrong with society today. Selfish, ignorant, and mean spirited. You never know what life is going to hand you. I have a masters degree and am 73 years old and have worked hard all my life and I am hear to tell you that you do not know what you are talking about.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:10 am |
      • Mark

        II think you meant here.

        While I feel for those that are legitimately suffering there are plenty of people that have no one to blame but themselves. There are still plenty of jobs to be had and plenty of opportunities available to people who want to work hard.

        November 2, 2013 at 8:31 am |
        • barrettclan

          I live on about $43/week ($175/mo) in SNAP benefits. I also go to the local food bank. When my kids were little and I was in college they counted my grants against me (yes, the ones spent on tuition and books) and we received $69/mo food stamps along with WIC and food banks every week. I also got welfare but that basically paid the rent and utilities. Anyway, when we survived on that there were many days when all I would eat/drink was tea with sugar in it. My kids ate first and I am thankful that one got free breakfast and lunch at school and the other one was fed by his day care provider.I always let them eat first and if there was enough I would eat.

          Nowadays I am older, on disability ($7000/year), and survive on the $43/week in SNAP benefits as my entire disability check goes to rent and utilities. I don't even own a car. It is hard but I can do it. One thing I don't do that I noticed the author did was drink espressos or use splenda, which both cost more than regular coffee and sugar. Farina cost more than a container of rolled oats. Chicken thighs (which have as much nutrition as the breasts) are much cheaper and you can get enough for a week's worth for the same amount as 2 decent size breasts. Fresh produce is a lot more expensive than a jar of store brand pasta sauce and the sauce will last you for more than 2 meals. Some types of frozen fish is also cheap and it provides a good amount of nutrition. A can of tuna is about $1.25 and you can make that last for two meals. I could do a whole make over of this person's meal options and give him more for his buck.

          November 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • justanotherchildofgod

      To those saying things like, 'Graduate from high school and get a job," or "get a job," you are showing your own lack of education. There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people on food stamps who have college degrees, and either do work or are desperately trying to find a better job, but when the city's main source of employment closes down, they leave behind a wake of massive unemployment. People can't afford to move, and they can't afford to stay. Or you have single parents whose deadbeat partners skip out and sure, the government will eventually track them down and put them in jail for failure to pay child support, but child support from a guy earning nothing in prison isn't feeding those kids.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Kayla Jean

      I graduated from a Jesuit college with high honors.. I still live on $30 a week for food.

      I don't receive assistance, but that's all that's left after bills are paid.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • sj

      This is an ignorant comment. I am a college graduate and have had to live on $30 or less per week after graduating. If you are taking care of yourself and have college loans and bills like rent, insurance, transportation cost and utilities; it does not leave much to live off on if you are just starting out. It has nothing to do with graduating from high school or rap.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • DallasJim

      AJ, I hope you come to recognize your lack of empathy before you are put in a position where you need help. It can and does happen to anybody. Hating the poor is a quick way to get kicked by Karma.

      November 2, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  35. Kendra

    Welcome to my nightmare. I've been looking for work since I got laid off in February. Thanks to the government shut down, the job I had lined up to start in September was postponed indefinitely. Now I'm a pregnant suddenly-single mother with no savings left, my only income is child support that doesn't even cover my rent and light bill, and I'm expected to eat and feed my kids on $200 Food Stamps a month- and buy water since it isn't drinkable where I live. I'm not a dead beat. I haven't spent years manipulating a system. I just need help getting through a rough time. Believe me- I would much rather support myself than ask for help. But finding a job while pregnant is nearly impossible and now I'm not sure what is going to happen to my family. I'm mad at the government shut down. I'm frustrated at the lack of resources to help in my area. I'm overwhelmed at the prospect of the future. And it sucks.

    November 2, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • Phantomfaery

      Kendra, I hope your situation gets better and soon! I remember when I was pregnant with my son, I didn't even mention it to the employer that hired me in, until I was with the company for a few months. It is difficult to find something while pregnant, because not too many places want to hire an employee that will need to go on maternity leave in a few months. I wish you the best of luck with finding something soon! Heck, finding work in general right now is still a very competitive environment! People fail to realize that there are still many areas that are very heavily affected by the recession. You apply for a job, and you can believe that there are AT LEAST 30+ other people applying for the same position. The government shutdown did not help matters. Like you, I have been looking for work since I was laid off about a month ago. The state government shut down all sweepstakes cafes in my state, and I lost my job as a result. I did not ask to be unemployed, and I hate having to be on any assistance; when I was living perfectly independently up until last month. Unemployment pays me enough to make my car payment (which I need to drive to and from interviews), pay my car insurance (legally have to have that), pay my phone bill (don't have a landline, so have to have that), and then the rest of the money goes toward paying my rent. Struggling does not even begin to cover the position I am currently in and it has come down to either getting assistance, or not having any food. I apply to at least four places daily. I am a college graduate with an associate's degree in healthcare administration. I worked two full-time jobs WHILE going to school full-time, so I'm most certainly not lazy. I don't take advantage of the system, because I sure as hell cannot wait to be able to stand on my own once more. Oh, and I don't listen to rap music since someone was ignorant enough to make some comment about that. I listen to mostly metal or classic rock, if you'd like to know.

      Those of you who are sitting there saying nothing must nasty and judgmental things about people who are receiving aide, I pray that you never find yourself in a situation where you would need it. You have NO idea how people like you make people who legitimately need the help feel. I feel ashamed when I have to tell the cashier at the check out counter that I'm paying with an EBT card. I try to swipe that card as quickly as possible and call it a day with the hopes that no one saw or is thinking such ignorant things about me. All in all, before you judge other people, it would be best if you kept in mind the fact that we are often taught as children to say nothing at all if we have nothing nice to say.

      November 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • Dee

        I have been reading many of the comments posted here and have mixed emotional reviews about them. However, yours struck me especially. Now please don't be offended, but it almost seems like you are apologizing for being in your current straights. I am sorry. Please don't apologize for events beyond your control. However, also take responsibility for any poor choices you have made. Life is a journey which all of us are on and we will all be accountable for our own decisions.

        The study I have done indicates that humans in 1st world countries spend about 10% of their net income on food. As I am single, I want that to be more in the 5% range. Now, I put together a budget for a SNAP challenge (and sorry folks, it isn't 30.00 per month per person. It's more akin to 4.50 per day per person). For me, that would be 34.87 per week. And would be doable, though perhaps not altogether most pleasant. Fish, frozen vegetables, eggs, bacon or sausage, cheese, butter, (must be: margarine will kill you) canned tuna, a bag of apples perhaps, and, coffee (small 1 pot bags last me for three pots in a french press). What many others have noted is that a one week SNAP challenge doesn't really show one the challenge of being on SNAP over the long term effects one. However, if you eat to live rather than live to eat, you probably are not going to suffer too much.

        BTW, I believe many of you are inflating the costs of certain items you purchase. I also live in one of the most expensive areas of the nation, and I have never seen 3.00 bags of frozen vegetables. Milk is bovine baby food and any human over the age of 10 years old shouldn't be ingesting it in liquid form.

        November 16, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • CJ

          "Milk is bovine baby food..." Sure, milk was originally designed for calves. Female humans give milk too. And what's wrong with drinking milk as an adult? It's a lot cheaper than coffee or soda, satisfies hunger, and is good for your bones. I'm 63, drink 3-4 glasses a day and have never had any hint of osteoporosis.

          March 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
    • sally

      The moral of this story is you should have a substantial amount in savings before you even THINK about getting pregnant.

      November 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • realidaddy

        Congratulations on being perfect.

        "I have seen something further under the sun, that the swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all." Ecclesiastes 9:11

        November 15, 2013 at 2:20 am |
        • Coupon-a-holic

          THANK YOU! God bless you for sharing such appropriate scripture! ~psalmbird~

          November 20, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  36. Larry

    Since 2008 there are a record number of recipients receiving food stamps. Many have never had the need to apply for aid before but have become unemployed. Many of our troops who put their lives on the line for the rest of us also have to rely on benefits. If you are working a low paying job, are on unemployment or Social Security, forget it, you won't receive anywhere near $30 in food stamps. Congress could have extended the benefits but current GOP controlled House is so out of touch with reality. They will be voted out in next year's mid-terms.

    November 2, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  37. JLeAnn71

    My family lives this every day. So people who complain about it need to stop. Look how we do it with my blog.

    November 2, 2013 at 5:51 am |
  38. Jerry

    Countries and their weekly spend for food per 1 family:

    November 2, 2013 at 5:00 am |
  39. Jayson

    30.00?!?! Seriously? THAT is HUGE compared to reality. 1.40 a day. TRY THAT ONE! SNAP benefits equal $1.40 a freaking day. 9.80 a week. When you do that, like SNAP beneficiaries then TALK about how HARD it is.

    November 2, 2013 at 4:33 am |
  40. Lauren

    I live on $30 and don't get government assistance of any kind. When I was applied, I was denied because at the time I was working three jobs and getting financial aid for school. We have a flowed system that creates dependents as opposed to creating a generation who is fighting to get on their feet.

    November 2, 2013 at 4:03 am |
  41. trinalp

    Americans need to wake up from the " American dream syndrome " ....millions of people across the world don't have a fraction of the luxury u have..... wake American.....this is the real world.....

    November 2, 2013 at 3:56 am |
  42. Jason A

    I don't have to, but I could... I've done it! I don't normally eat breakfast anyway, so that saves money. it's a throwback from childhood, living in a single parent 4 child welfare household, and being thrown away at 16yo because I interfered with my mothers trick of the week lets reality kick in faster.

    for the exception of breakfast you looked to have good meals. you have to realize that as time goes on things from last week carry over. I used to get bulk Parmesan cheese $1~2 per lbs, and bulk elbow noodles, and a can of tuna... 2 cups of the pasta can go for 2 lunches, 2 cups boiled like normal, drain water and put tuna, add Parmesan cheese and garlic salt and pepper, did that for my work lunches for a year with my last job, it's good hot and cool. but when you consider that some thing like a spice or a $3 tub of butter instead of a $1 pack of sticks, etc will last for weeks to help make some meals more enjoyable you can better realize meal options.

    if you don't have pasta sauce use butter, butter noodles with garlic salt is good. I wish I had black beans and rice at times in my life!!! :D when a way to cook is as much a problem as buying the food and a microwave is your best resource to cook you get limited to things like the 12 pack of frozen burritos.

    I went from $21hr before the 2008 layoffs, to unemployment, to minimum wage @ 40hr a week to 32hrs a week. my wife works for the state and with between about 5~7% pay cuts and mandatory furlough's things get ruff, the church pantry once a week was disheartening but a life saver. you couldn't imagine that most of the state workers you treat like sub servant humans that work for state agency actually live on welfare to supplement low pay, here in Nevada anyway, it's better to make state workers live like this than make all state residents pay a small state tax like most other states!!!

    I've gone back to over the road truck driving to fix the damage of extended time away from the wheel (unemployment and going to security since driving jobs where scarce for a long time here), as a CDL truck driver you have to keep working or pay $5000 for a refresher course or go drive for a crap company who pays little to get your time behind the wheel back. I have about a month to get 6monthes of OTR and I might be able to get a temp driving job and try to restart my local driving career.

    so as a company driver making 0.25 cent per mile, you go, go, go, if you sit and think about things you lose miles. no real time to think about breakfast (lucky I'm use to it), lunch lol, something for dinner a must but what can you buy cheap at wal-mart and keep on the truck to heat up at truck stop microwave? soup, chilli, there are choices, limited but you can have a different meal every day if you like. with a family of 4 this was a hard decision. on top of all this OTR truck driving isn't to good for solo company truck drivers anymore, all the useless DOT fmcsa hours of service really hurt, I used to wish there where laws to keep jobs from working people like mules, I've had to do 120hrs a week at one point, when your minimum wage and paid bimonthly they can kill you every other week and make like since your pay period breaks your work week they don't have to pay over time. but I think that OTR truck driving is the only profession in the USA that has a limit on the hours you can work in a week, 70hrs!!! this hit me hard getting home for home time the other day! I only got back 7 hours to add to my 30min of time left on my 70, 7:30 of work time available...

    any way enough about dot hos, they suck and that is another bad topic, lol... keep smiling right!!! :D

    even working people who got hit hard during this administration or for various reasons during any, it's not just people on welfare who find it hard to make sure they can feed their family! learning how to do it will make you appreciate the lessons when you do start to build yourself back up.

    November 2, 2013 at 3:42 am |
    • Jason A

      one thing that people forget is even 2 people working minimum wage will find it hard because the cost of living and the minimum wage rate are not balanced!

      November 2, 2013 at 3:46 am |
    • Jason A

      I forgot, when I was on unemployment and with my wife pay cuts we couldn't pay rent one month another so we had to get assistance which if anyone who has had to ask knows this can only happen once! I had to go through a mandatory class on applying for jobs and interviewing. not like that was the problem but it was an embarrassment I endured to keep my family off the road, but during that class they also had me apply and get a safelink phone, that helped when applying and communicating. in the end my wifes uncle paid for my guard card and I went to minimum wage security.

      about 7 months ago my father-in-law passed away leaving my mother-in-law with 20 thousand in debt from VA charges, his military pension is gone, his SS is gone, the retirement pension that managed his retirement from all those years on the docks is going bankrupt and my mother-in-laws gets almost nothing, a small % of what his retirement was supposed to be. she has worked the last 10 years taking care of him with heart attack after heart attack from congestive heart failure. she had to move in with us. the judge didn't even have to hear her argument for bankruptcy he could see it and expressed his condolences for her lose and approved her bankruptcy.

      I had saved up enough at the security job and made plans to go back over the road, I got a track phone, and set off...

      I am fortunate, more so than a lot of people who lost careers in the last few years! I have been able to pick my family back up. it's been hard and yes i have wanted to give up many times but I kept pushing, I still consider giving up but remember how far we have struggled as a family and do not want to go back. I don't go hungry out here, it's just out of habit that I skip lunch sometimes and just don't do breakfast, even when i was a union worker i didn't have time for lunch!!!! I may have to be away from my children for weeks at a time but it's temporary.

      SO, getting assistance to pay rent one month, safelink phone, unemployment, church pantry, my wife's uncles charity, we did have to get assistance! but I hope I showed my appreciation for it being available by doing something with it other than sitting collecting more!

      November 2, 2013 at 4:54 am |
  43. Brian in Ohio

    I understand that there are many people out there that are going hungry. But why should I have to support them? These food stamps don't fall out of the sky. I work hard to make the money that I need to take care of my family, and I am sure that you would agree that there would be better meals in my own home, if I didn't have to feed so many others. I did not put these people in the situation that they are in. And in most cases, these people are having more than one child in order to qualify for more food stamps. If these people cannot work and support themselves and their children, they shouldn't be having them. Don't come crying to me and begging for me to support their decision to be irresponsible people.

    November 2, 2013 at 3:39 am |
    • Jason A

      it's not always irresponsible people, I may not draw nor have I applied for any welfare but things happen! I was a union worker when I had my kids and I believed long ago that as long as I had a CDL in my wallet I'd never worry about things. I did not create the layoffs or the reason that cause the economy to get trashed a few years ago! but I did have to draw unemployment for the first time in my life!

      here in Nevada the governor instituted a 5~7% pay cut and mandatory furlough's instead of having every citizen pay a small state income tax! many state workers had to get assistance because of no fault of their own.

      I'd rather see people who are hungry get food instead of sending billions to middle east countries, I'd rather see the government give every welfare home in this country a new but cheap CAR instead of supporting other countries!

      your frustration on supporting poor people is justified but misdirected! this country supports other countries better than the poor in this country!

      November 2, 2013 at 4:01 am |
    • Sandycg71

      You do realize that people are working and receiving food stamps because of their low salary, they have to? Do you also realize that members of the military are forced to take food stamps as well, because they cannot afford to feed their families on their salaries? You do understand than many people, even well-educated people who had high-paying jobs, have been laid off and now cannot find jobs or find minimum wage, which is not enough to live on? You are very heartless and closed-minded. Taxes is our fee to live in a civilized society and civilized societies help one another.

      November 2, 2013 at 4:07 am |
      • courtneylwilliams33

        Sandy, girlfriend, I wish there were a "like" button so I could "like" your comment. lol!!! :)

        November 2, 2013 at 5:21 am |
    • ramy

      It is your way of thinking that shows what is different about this world today than it was 50 or more years ago. Even during the depression, people helped each other. People cared about each other. People shared what they had with each other. There was no "I worked hard for what I have and I don't give a damn about whether you are in need or not. What is mine is mine and I am not sharing". If someone came to your door begging for shared, even though you did not have much yourself. There is no compassion in the world today......and I bet you call yourself a Christian, too.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Sherri

      Totally agree with Brian....I work hard and pay high ass taxes during the year and at the end of sure some who are commenting receives a hefty income tax check the end of the year... do you save the money for a rainy day or blow out? What would people do when assistance ends?... better plan a alternative because the assistance will not always be available.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • However321

      You're out of touch with reality. Seriously, Have you spent any time listening to the real life stories of people who have to depend on food stamps to survive. This isn't a game and MOST people are not playing. You are not immune and should not throw rocks. I have a Master's Degree+ and had to depend on food stamps for a year while I was out of work. Don't be so snide, things have changed.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:58 am |
      • Sherri

        Things have changed and im paying for it greatly and will be paying for it the rest of my life..I feel sorry for the few who have came upon hard times due to unfortunate circumstances. ..others are due to poor life choices and for them I have no sympathy. ...

        November 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • sally

        If you have what it takes to earn a "Master's Degree+", certainly you should have known that part of the responsibility of being an adult is saving for a rainy day. Why should it be anyone's responsibility but your own to feed you just because you chose an iffy career path? And how much student debt did you incur?
        I understand hard times, but it's the self righteous indignation and sense of entitlement that is so frustrating to those of us who didn't get a master's degree "+" because we couldn't afford one. Instead of paying for a prestigious degree, we were putting money in the bank.

        November 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • sally

      I agree with you Brian. Too many people seem to believe that having children is a right, and that the rest of us are ultimately responsible for feeding their offspring. I'm perfectly fine with paying extra taxes for education, safety, transportation... but before you have a kid you better make darn sure you can afford to at least feed him.

      November 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Stella

      If you think that welfare is all about you supporting irresponsible people then I'm sorry, but with all the respect in the world, you don't really understand how welfare works. If welfare was paid out of what working people contribute then most of the people you find on welfare are people who have previously paid into the system themselves. But welfare isn't like that because you have the corporates and the huge sums that corporations pay every year and it's them who in all reality support those on welfare and also fund all or most of the support systems (non-profits) which necessarily accompany welfare.

      I'm not going to argue with you over the concept of irresponsibility because yes, people receive welfare not only because there are no opportunities for them to do anything else, but also because they are unable to make use of existing opportunities. However having worked in non-profit supporting people on welfare, those who are unable to make use of existing opportunities are often people who don't know any better or who have never had to learn the necessary life skills. Some have made bad choices in life, and they know it. The last thing they need is for people who don't know them and don't understand to keep pointing it out.

      Another thing you may also like to become aware of is that while people on welfare don't earn an income or pay taxes, many of them provide work for other people who do work and pay taxes. Think of social workers, support workers, carers, counsellors, meaningful occupation workers, just to give you but a few examples. This is why whenever those in power decide to cut welfare or funding for support programs it inevitably leads to job cuts and other people losing their jobs.

      Let's also not forget that welfare is there for people who just cannot work, either through physical or mental illness, and also people who should not work. Why should employers be put in a position where they have to lose in productivity through someone who is constantly ill or be forced to employ people with mental illnesses or such? Not everybody on welfare is employable and those that aren't need to, and should, remain on welfare until they can become employable.

      Surely you can see that this makes economic sense, right?

      November 19, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  44. richerd

    hi to every out there i am 32 and Mexican i have been reading almost all the comments and some a sad and some are funny i Live in the city of el cajon state Cali i Live with my mom and grandma and aunt and i have been receiving SSI checks for all my Life it is 800 and my mom receives 1000 a month for workmans program with my check she pays the rant and food and with half of here check she pays the Light bill and gas bill food is a big part of my check for the month the truth is the only rich are the ones not saying nothing here and the only thing is that we need food to live with out food we are going to Live and i am Mexican so if any one out there knows was up with our Life stale eating beans and fresh home mad tortillas and hot coffee

    November 2, 2013 at 3:29 am |
  45. jaynesbooks

    I don't get food stamps, but there are times when I can only spend about $40 for the week and that may mean no fresh fruit or veg and only a salad bag. Since I am single, I sometimes buy the frozen pot pies and just have that for dinner and for lunch its usually something like tuna fish sandwiches or maybe something else just as simple. I have frozen chili and that cost me about $15 and lasted me for about a week and a half.

    November 2, 2013 at 3:02 am |
    • jaynesbooks

      I meant to say I have made chili...

      November 2, 2013 at 3:04 am |
  46. Jodi Secor-Merrill

    I fed my myself and 2 children on 25 to 30 dollars a week for a long time. When you have rent,utilities,necessities for the house to buy you do what you have to. Making meals in bulk to be frozen and ate later in the week was a must. Fresh fruits and vegetables were not an option for us. Meat,potatoes,rice,and pasta mostly were our meals. My children are grown now and my children still smile when we talk about a hundred different ways to make potatoes. When you live on that amount its not about eating healthy its about survival.

    November 2, 2013 at 2:46 am |
  47. stacy

    this has to be for 1 person, i want to see how she can do it with a family with 2 kids

    November 2, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • shawn l

      You get more food stamps if you have kids.

      November 2, 2013 at 2:39 am |
      • Brian in Ohio

        You are making my point with this comment. No one wants to take responsibility for themselves anymore. Just have another kid and the government will take care of me. Get a job so that I will have more of my own hard earned money to take care of the family that I am responsible for.

        November 2, 2013 at 3:46 am |
  48. mother of two

    I spend 150.00 a month for myself, husband, 17 year old son and 14 year old daughter. With a once a week trip to the food pantry, we get by, barely, but we do it. My husband works full time and I stay at home to make sure our children are getting good grades, stay out of trouble and are ready for college so they do not have to live like we do. It was a sacrifice to stay home and not work, but I am the only parent of all my childrens' friends that is available and knows what is going on in their world and keeping them busy with no "free" time to fill with trouble. It is well worth it.

    November 2, 2013 at 2:32 am |
  49. Barbara

    Why was so much given as the weekly budget? My Grandmother WAS going through chemo treatments and received $16 PER MONTH (South Carolina) even though ALL other income (her SS) went to pay bills and debts before she died.

    November 2, 2013 at 2:23 am |
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