October 31st, 2011
02:00 PM ET
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Previously, our very own CNN producer Sheila Steffen shopped for a week's worth of groceries for $30 - the amount which would be allotted by food stamps.

Now, Washington D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is one of a dozen democratic Congressmen taking part in a food stamp challenge organized by various religious groups. The participants are allowed to spend no more than $31.50 a week. That comes to $4.50 a day. The objective is for lawmakers to see for themselves how it feels to live on a limited food budget.

The National Food Stamp Challenge comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill ponder spending cuts that could adversely affect programs that assist the poor and elderly.

Previously: The food stamp challenge: eating on $30 a week | Could you live on $30 a week? | Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America

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Filed under: Food Politics • Hunger • Think • Video

soundoff (280 Responses)
  1. us1776

    I think the lawmakers should try living on a food stamp budget for about 6 months and then see how they feel about things.

    Our lawmakers are part of the 1%-ers and hugely out of touch with middle-class or the poor in our country.


    November 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  2. j

    Interesting, I eat on that much a week just so I don't have to take handouts. It is possible for one person.

    November 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  3. Alex Duitsman

    Ok people here is the deal. We can't complain and argue over what you or I buy. 90% of what we buy we don't need. Drink water, we don't need nothing else. We don't need pillows in our bed. We don't need internet or tv. Somebody buy's food on stamps and then turns around and buy's smokes with cash. Well it happens. Here is the cure.

    Everyone on food stamps and wellfare will report to a work program. Based on skills will get a public works/infastructure job. No skills, then you pick-up trash, paint over grafifitti. Got a D.L. Then you shuttle workers around. Got a skill, like bobcat driver, then you will be a loader operator. Get a govnt. cert. that says you are compentent then can get a better job if you don't like the pay. Limit it to minium wage.

    November 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Faith

      I actually think that is a very good idea. It would help our situation a lot in America. And it would help out a lot of people. The only problems I can see is if the people are disabled. My mother is and she can't work because she can barely move her arm and is immense pain. So I think it should also be on how able they are to work. But I think that is the best solution and least amount of whining I have heard so far. I commend you. :) Thank you for positive output!

      November 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
      • Alex Duitsman

        Sorry to hear that. A wise man once said" How you judge a society is by how they treat their sick, old and criminals." We will always have those. If she can't work then fine. But, a perfectly healthy Single mother. Well then she can baby sit for others that want to go out and work and better themselves. Most people on well fair or diable can do something. Mabe-just sort papers, but it is something.

        November 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
      • momof7

        Disabled people should be covered under the disability system and should not need a lawyer to qualify. Both systems need to be completely overhauled. And I'm sorry but mental disabilities should not be considered under the disability or ssi programs. If you have a physical disability that prevents you from working it is very easy and clear to define and provide documentation for. It is also not going away. It will be there forever.

        Mental disabilities such as adhd, learning disabilities, and other such should be directed to the welfare system and put through the job training like every other person on welfare should be. There they can get assistance to live while they are learning to support themselves. Government housing that you work for, surplus foods and staples provided in bulk – pick it up at the office once a month like wic, basic utilities, training required and community service with the opportunity to advance into paying positions as training allows. Job centers can hire and match personnel from the files and as the working hours increase the training time and community service should decrease accordingly. It's a workable system that encourages independence rather than dependence.

        And a 3rd benefit separate from these should be designated for WORKING people as a supplemental assistance during times of great hardship. A set amount per person for a specific amount of time regardless of what you make during that time. A once in a lifetime benefit to be used wisely as it can only be instated one time. Provide medical coverage and basic living expenses for 1 year and 10% less each month after the first year. You have that long to make other arrangements and be on your feet. One chance. After that time if you still can't make it you go to the welfare where the limitations are significantly more defined.

        November 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
      • Peanut M&M

        Momof7, SSI is actually a form of welfare, and very few people qualify for Social Security under the mental conditions you listed, as they are not legally considered to be totally disabling. SSI is not in trouble because it pays so little and is so difficult to qualify for from a financial standpoint (household income must be under $800 per month). It is funded by the federal government, and is intended to financially support those who cannot work and who never have been able to because of their disabilities. Cash assistance is supposed to be temporary and is paid by the state. That is the "welfare" that most people talk about.
        Social Security disability benefits are drawn by people who have worked and paid into the system. The more you worked and paid, the more you recieve. You recieve your maximum benefit if you stop working at 65. Social Security is actually in trouble because of people retiring at age 65 and then drawing benefits for twenty years or more, rather than a few years, as people would do in the 1930's, when the program began. Similarly, people who were too sick to work and needed to retire early in the 1930's were also expected to pass away within a few years. I'm not saying that people should just die and stop drawing benefits, just that healthcare is so advanced that life expectancy has dramatically increased, which makes the program impractical and in need of some adjustment.
        Also, you probably wouldn't qualify for food stamps on Social Security Disability.

        November 2, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Dee

      One on the reasons people are on food stamps is because they can't find work.

      November 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
      • Cobra-212

        You mean they won't accept the work they can find, don't you? In the height our our unemployment, there are still many lower paying jobs available, but few who want to do them. In a pinch, a minimum wage job should still bring in more than what one would get on government assistance, so why is it people are standing in line for government assistance instead of getting those minimum wage jobs? Could it be it's easier to take money you don't have to work for than to get one's hands dirty for 40 hours a week?

        November 2, 2011 at 9:09 am |
      • WDCMom

        People neglect the fact that if you have small children, you really can't take a minimum wage job because you will owe more in child care than you make. And if you have more than one child who is not in school yet? And what about summer? when you have to pay for two or three children's care full time.

        November 3, 2011 at 9:31 am |
      • Pancakes@WDCMOM

        Then they should have weighed the cost of bringing children into this world before they got knocked up.

        November 3, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Ms. Erika

      Mr. or Ms. Duitsman, excellent post. I wouldn't have HALF the heartburn over food stamps, welfare or WIC if such a program was in place.

      I've had individuals tell me that I'm no better than someone who gets food stamps but tax dollars pays my salary. I say to them, I support the Military Warfighter. I do what we do not have enough Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines to do. Proudly! I offer a service in exchange for the tax dollars that pay me. When you get welfare or food stamps you take out of my pocket and offer NOTHING in return. If you worked for those handouts I wouldn't be so sickened by it.

      Food stamps & welfare should only be for the aged and infirm. IF anyone else gets assistance they work extra hours (ON TOP OF THEIR JOB) for a Federal Works Program.

      I like your idea Duitsman

      November 2, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • DUNS Number@ Alex Duitsman

      And you have just created another entire federal bureaucracy just because 1 penny of every dollar of food stamps is fraudulently spent. Why not go after the fat cats stealing from the Military Industrial Complex or the Medicare system instead of going after the poor, old, disabled and infants that simply need a little help feeding themselves?

      November 2, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  4. Rich

    The law makers should be on food stamps ALL THE TIME instead of lving high on the hog.......

    November 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Alex Duitsman

      Why should we pay them that much.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Ally

      Do you seriously think that the people managing our laws should have a salary so low that food stamps are needed?

      November 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
      • momof7

        The people defending them do.

        November 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
      • dave

        People governing our systems should be doing it purely out of the want to "serve their country" not to fill their pockets.
        As far as poverty wages go, that may be a bit too far. Let them live on whatever the middle class is living on. i.e. If the middle class makes more, they make more. Might improve things a bit.

        November 2, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Butterflies

      They are highly over paid, and the fact that they decide their own pay scale is ridiculous!

      November 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
      • Ally

        I agree. But it is a difficult job requiring years of education and lots of responsibility. I was just pointing out that the statement above was a bit ridiculous.

        November 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  5. TallyChick

    What many people forget is that food stamps are meant to SUPPLEMENT someone's food budget. It's not meant to be the only monetary source to purchase food, which is why people who receieve food stamps should also be out there working. People want to complain that they can't feed themselves and their kids on the amount of food stamps they get. Well...get a job (or a second job) is my answer. I am a Democrat and I do think this is a good program for those people and families who really need it and are trying their hardest to help themselves, but I am not going to sit here and pay someone else's entire food budget and see them eat steak every night while I'm eating cheap pasta every night! I have a 2nd job in a grocery store, so I see what is bought on food stamps all the time! Food stamps are meant to help...not cover everyhing! People receiving handouts and aid need to stop being greedy. You are not owed anything! Like I said...I'll help you but I ain't doing it all! And when you get back on your feet and off food stamps, I expect you do to the same for others!

    November 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Jessica

      Listen here TallyChick! Yeah you say people are taking advantage of the food stamps but, YOU'RE NOT IN THERE SHOES! so if I was you dont diss the people who are complaining that they CANT PROVIDE because the honest truth is THEY CANT!!! People are trying to get second jobs they even making their own children to help them. You're smart remarks are offensive for the people who have the right to speak out for what they need for their families. Its not fair with gas, school, cost of food increase and etc. You how much supplies one baby new born needs just imagine a teenager so once again TALLY CHICK you should be careful what you say cause you dont know the half it.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
      • DDinNH

        Oh my, consider not having a baby if you can't afford it! I think 31.50 a week can feed a person.We are talking about eating here! not cigarettes, beer, bottle water, soda. Yes those are all things we may all want but if I have to pay for your butt you need to get your butt off the couch and prepare food! I don't buy all this complaining... I can take a whole chicken have a meal for two, take the meat off the rest, boil the bones for broth add some chicken meat and pasta and vegies and have an other meal for two! oh yes chicken sandwiches for lunch! i don't have to supply bottle water, prepare food, cans of tuna that translate to lots of$$$ per pound. We have raised a bunch of I don't know whats in this country . Learn to waste not want not!

        November 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
      • Amanda

        It's tough for all of us, Jessica. I cut coupons and use sales at a couple of different stores to stretch my food shopping budget. Costs are going up for everyone and we are all getting stretched. However I am not entitled to benefits because I have the ability to take care of myself on my income and have the intelligence to use birth control. Why is it when I go to the supermarket those that use ACCESS buy whatever they want without regard to cost? At the grocery store, just this evening, I saw TWO families use foodstamps to pay for all their groceries and then proceed to buy mutiple $5-$10 scratch off lottery tickets. I can't afford to waste money on scratch off tickets, but these trashy people can use all our tax dollars to purchase food and then buy scratch off tickets. If you can afford the expensive lotto tickets, you do not need my tax dollars helping you.

        November 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
      • Katrina

        Jessica, where do you get off complaining that gas prices, food costs and schooling prices are not fair? Are you ten years old? There are very few people who do not have to pay for things like gas and food. The prices effect us all, not just you.

        Furthermore, we have all seen trash as the grocery store who clearly are abusing the system. They are eating things I can not afford. I don’t want to be in their shoes – they are scumbags and part of the problem with this country. I am sorry if you are offended that the working class do not quite appreciate these people. I feel that is more your problem then mine or TallyChicks. Unfortunately, these people have made a bad name for those who actually need the assistance. People who truly need government assistance (the infirm and the elderly) – I say assist away. These are the people these programs are intended for – not the people who found a way to screw the system by having more children.

        I bet if the system was the other way around and rewarding people who work and contribute with a $31.00 weekly food bonus, things would be very different.

        November 2, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
      • Annie

        i have to say...i'm not on food stamps and i make too much money to get them. there are weeks i can't afford to buy food and i don't know where you people shop but there is no way i can get enough food on $31.50 to last me an entire week. i'm single and feeding only myself. most weeks it takes at least $60. no, i don't eat steak and lobster. i haven't had either in so long i've forgotten what they taste like.

        do i begrudge others needing assistance? no, i don't. i get frustrated with the people who are milking the system just because they can but if people need help, i'm glad i can help.

        November 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Butterflies

      I agree with what she said. You don't know. It's hard and some people need the help and sometimes it isn't enough. Even more so if they're doing everything right. My mom back in the day couldn't afford anything for my older brother and sister but she didn't qualify for help. The system is flawed. People who don't do anything but go to things to get help can make it but people struggling working two and three jobs sometimes still can't make ends meet. My mom didn't have any extras either. She had an apartment and her kids, that was it. Nothing else and she was barely making it which meant sometimes the kids ate and she didn't. Tell me how people like my mom are lazy and don't deserve help. She's put into the system her whole life got laid off in California and then kicked to the curb. Put in over 300 applications. Tell me how my mom wasn't doing everything she could. She has worked the hardest of anyone I know and she keeps at it. There aren't any jobs out there, they don't pay good, and to make things better we're not in a recession people we're in a full on depression. If you can't see that you're blind, people are just doing what they can to survive and make sure their families can do the same. Don't judge before you walk a mile in their shoes.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  6. Lauren

    I really don't get the big deal. I earn a comfortable living, I DON'T live on food stamps and I grocery shop in NYC, one of the most expensive cities in America, and I personally spend anywhere between $15-40 per week on groceries just for myself, depending on what I need or have going on. I eat healthy food and am able to purchase enough to feed me for the week on the grocery budget I've set for myself (which is less than I can afford). However, the amount of money I spend each week on grocery doesn't include the occasional dinner/lunch/brunch/cocktails out.

    What I'm not seeing in this article is whether or not the $31/week food stamp budget is for a single person or is based on a family of 4 (or, 8-10 people as food stamp family's tend to be large with too many children). Also, what kind of choices are they making? Sugary cereals and Digiorno Pizza are obviously going to cost more and eat into your budget. People claim that eating healthy is too expensive – it isn't. Buying veggies, eating lean protein and eating dinner leftovers for next-day lunch will help cut down your grocery budget in the long run.

    November 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • T

      Although I personally have never received them, I have some friends and family members who have received aid including food stamps. While there are many terrific government programs to help get better food for America's poor (not just food stamps), I've actually found that healthy foods are not always the cheapest. As an example, compare the cost of a gallon of milk with the equivalent amount of soda. The soda is cheaper. So for those who really need help, food stamps alone may not be enough. Not everyone receiving assistance is a person making consistently bad choices, though some are. How can we structure the program to encourage recipients to make good choices so the program can really make a positive difference in the lives of people who cannot afford sufficient nutrition for themselves or their family? Some of those receiving aid are senior citizens on tiny pension and social security incomes. Some are families who have lost their sources of income. And yes, there are some who just don't want to work. I personally know 1 or 2 of those also. But instead of tossing the baby out with the bath water, let's figure out how in a nation with so many food resources compared to other countries we can actually feed people.

      November 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
      • DDinNH

        Why don't we hold their hands in the market...

        November 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  7. Jason

    Baltimore City MD – Population Statistics http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=05000US24510&-qr_name=ACS_2009_5YR_G00_S1703&-ds_name=ACS_2009_5YR_G00_&-redoLog=false

    2009 – Amount of people in poverty status 617,676
    2009- Population 16 to 64 years (working ages) 418,257
    2009 – Did not work 108,131

    2009 – Less than a highschool education 93,201

    Seems that those without a highschool education are the ones not working and using up all the welfare money. If you want to fix the issue force them to finish there education.

    November 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • PurdueEngineer

      Just b/c those who did not finish high school is about the same number of those who did not work does not imply or even statistically indicate that this is necessarily one in the same. I got laid off and somewhere I was a statistic of not working but does that mean I don't have an education? It is appalling of how stupid people are when they see a bunch of numbers and make assumptions when they themselves don't have enough education to understand them. Irony.

      "Baltimore City MD – Population Statistics http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=05000US24510&-qr_name=ACS_2009_5YR_G00_S1703&-ds_name=ACS_2009_5YR_G00_&-redoLog=false

      2009 – Amount of people in poverty status 617,676
      2009- Population 16 to 64 years (working ages) 418,257
      2009 – Did not work 108,131

      2009 – Less than a highschool education 93,201

      Seems that those without a highschool education are the ones not working and using up all the welfare money. If you want to fix the issue force them to finish there education."

      November 2, 2011 at 12:03 am |
      • Jason

        Purdue Engineer
        If you would like we could have a statistic course in this post to show how there is a high probability that if you are uneducated you are most likely unemployed, hence you are most likely on welfare. It seems your engineering education may have actually come from a Cracker Jack box.

        November 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  8. cin

    Hey, an idea for another stupid reality show! We could call it "Feeding Frenzy." We could get a bunch of lawmakers together, they'd race around the market banging their shopping carts and have a time limit of 15 minutes to use up their allotment of foodstamps. At the end, whoever got the most food (based on number of meals per household member) for their foodstamps wins! It's sort of like Supermarket Sweep, but with a twist. The winner would move up into the next round. They'd get one less eligible dependent so their foodstamp amount would decrease. But, they'd still have to get the same amount of food for less. Also, they'd be allowed to use newspaper coupons.

    November 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  9. Michael

    Why is she dressed like a spy?

    November 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  10. Oscar

    I like the idea of it, but more for the value of learning how to live on little than the "walk a mile in their shoes" sentiment. It would be a good experiment for everyone to do, and might just help out their finances.

    But also keep in mind that the food stamp budget is not intended to completely cover one's food expenses.

    November 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  11. Jerod in Mumbai India

    Look at all you whinning, ent itled, fat americans complaining about food stamps. I laugh in your face as your country burns like Rome.

    November 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Laughing@Jerod

      Who do you see as our fiddling Nero?

      November 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Brian

      Stay classy, Jerod. Have fun pretending your country has no issues.

      November 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
      • Brian

        And enjoy the fact that your best and brightest come here to study and work.

        November 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Soicanleavecomments OnBlogs

      I am so sorry you live there. You are welcome to come here and get educated at an excellent university and live in freedom. Your comment is so silly! you could be a writer! Here you can dream, not be jealous you live like, well you know.

      November 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • TallyChick

      Just heard on NPR that your country (India) is getting fat as well! 1 in 5 Indians are overweight. So who you calling fat now...fatty?!

      November 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Lex

      F U go eat a cow and drive in traffic in your stupid country.

      November 2, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  12. vicki

    My mistake, I typed minimum instead of maximum. The MAXIMUM for a household of 1 is $200.00. That is someone without any income. REMEMBER–the food stamp program is a supplement to those who have income. If you have income, you are expected to contribute toward your food expense. So if you have some income, yes, you will get less than the $200 per month, as it is a program to supplement your food income, not totally pay the whole food bill all month. So for these folks to be trying to eat for $30 per week is not realistic as even a 1-person household with NO other income receives $200 in food stamps or $46.51 weekly. Obviously these lawmakers have other income, but are limiting their food budget to $30 per week, which is not even close to being comparable to what the alloted food stamp amount is for one person with NO income. Food stamps for those with income was never meant to be the sole source of your food. . My point is although I work and have a household of 4, I never have enough money to spend $668 per month on food and a household who does not have ANY income is issued a MAXIMUM benefit of $668 for food a month. Tell me how that works out. It's a simple conclusion that if you are employed and not eligible for food stamps and still don't have money to fork out almost $700 per month for food each month, why should someone with no income but same household size as you be given more money for food monthly than you can afford?

    November 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • s.why

      that is crazy. I stretc $200 a month out for me and my kids per month. I buy only what we need and cook everyday and I'm a working single mother with two jobs. I don't qualify for assistance but someone not trying to do better does! These law makers need to make an average like average ppl. Most of us also went to school and work hard and still don't make the pay they make to sit on their bum all day! See me after 12-13 hours a day of work and tell me you deserve your pay and benefits! I just need maternity help once (no stamps and not health care once my son was born just maternity because my office didn't offer it in our health plan) and couldn't get it but every pay check they take out taxes!

      November 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  13. oubie

    The heart of the matter is that some of us think government programs are charity distrubuted to the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society and others think government programs are investments intended to turn the weakest and most vulnerable memembers of our society into productive contributors.

    The reality is that sometimes the right choice is the former and sometimes the latter. Depends on the person getting the stamps. Anyone can find a way eventually to pay their own way, but some need longer to figure it out than others.

    People should be required to pay back what they get from Food Stamps as a percent of income that is reasonable. After 20 years, if they haven't paid it all back the rest should be forgiven.

    November 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Jason

      You have never been to Baltimore City. 30% of the city has been on welfare (assisted housing / food stamps) there whole life. How do you recommend fixing the issue of lifetime handouts?

      November 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
      • Cobra-212

        Easy, stop making them handouts and start making them payment for services rendered to the city/state/feds, depending on who is providing. There are plenty of things that need "doing" and not enough government budget to fund getting them done. At the same time those same governments are giving money away and getting nothing in return. Simple solution, put them to work. They don't like the minimal pay they get from a gov't subsistence job, then they can go get a better job. For those who are sick or disabled to the point they can't do anything, we should help them. But, if they can answer a phone, shuffle papers, drive, or anything else, they can do a job.

        November 2, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • DDinNH

      resonable statement! Thanks

      November 1, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  14. Ms. Erika

    How is it momof7 just now admits to blindness only AFTER I mention food stamps should only be for the aged or infirm?!?!?

    Also, I never said you had seven kids to GET onto food stamps. I'm just saying that you should have been prepared for the consequences of taking care of them regardless. Now you claim blindness. If you are sorry you went through that. Blind people work. Every day. In fact unless all of a sudden you're gonna to admit to being completely paralyzed as well, I'm still not impressed.

    Let your mistakes be a lesson learned for everyone. Always have short and/or long term disability insurance. If your job doesn't offer it, there are companies that can provide at a low cost. Things do happen but YOU CAN BE PREPARED for them. Have a rainy day fund equaling at LEAST 6 months of expenses. Pay off your debt. It is not easy but it can be done. People get laid off everyday and make a way for themselves and their families without handouts or handups.

    Momof7 conveniently plays the disabled card and her supporters blindly follow the mantra of handouts are good.

    Again, if you are TRULY disabled you have my empathy. But your life choices still aren't worth celebrating and I for one shouldn't have to support you.

    November 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • momof7

      Because the reason we receive assistance temporarily is none of your business.

      November 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
      • Confused

        It took me awhile to find that statement. I thought you meant that you are "flying blind" learning how to garden. Clearly you can't actually be blind using a computer.

        In any case, you two, this is not something to argue about. We don't know the circumstances of this. Ms. Erika, without the full story, we shouldn't be judging anyone. For all we know, they could have been millionares who lost their fortune after they had seven kids and had to start from scratch. Having a large family isn't automatically irresponsible. Momof7, perhaps you should consider the tone of your posts and the sensitivity level of the readers. You may not have meant it so, but some of your first post did almost sound like you bragging about being on assistance. People here are a little overzealous in their opinions on the welfare system. Neither of you have to justify yourselves to each other or anyone, as no one knows your situation but you.

        We should be able to agree that we disagree on the matter and leave it go.

        November 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
      • Ms. Erika

        I beg to differ momof7.
        When I was in the military I 'belonged' to the US Government as I received pay & benefits from taxpayers. As a DoD employee I still have to offer my personal & financial information to review as my pay and benefits are being paid for by tax dollars. I cannot use drugs and I cannot allow my credit to decline as I would lose my security clearance be fired. Now if I have to do ALL of that so I can continue to be paid by tax dollars (even though I'm providing a valuable service) how is it it's none of our business why you're receiving tax funded support? Let me guess... I guess you don't believe welfare/foodstamp/WIC recipients shouldn't have to take a drug test either?

        November 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
      • CONFUSED is a great name for you...

        Actually, you CAN be blind and use a computer. There are programs that can read text out loud, as well as speech-to-text programs that allow the user to 'type' an email, msg, etc by speaking it.

        November 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
      • momof7

        I was in the military and know how it works. And you personally are not my boss, administrator, or any other portion of the people higher up than me in the social or political ladder. So no, it's none of YOUR business.

        And to the other poster yes, I am legally blind. Which means I have less than 20% of my vision, can no longer drive and is a life altering situation. Which we are overcoming. And yes, I was bragging you could say. Although not for BEING on assistance. But for overcoming the situation that put us there and offering up my help to others who may be in a similar situation and encouragement that it can be done. You CAN live on a minimal food budget and eat well. Certainly much better than the reporter did.

        November 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
      • momof7

        And you might be amazed at the things a blind person can do when they are determined enough to find a way. But it does take time and resources to find them and learn. Going blind is not something ANYONE plans and prepares for. People don't PLAN to be disabled. It happens. And it's not always over in 6 months of less. And it doesn't only happen to people with large families. If I had only 2 children I'd STILL be going blind and wouldn't have my children. I don't see that as a benefit.

        November 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  15. BetaJane

    the food stamp program was meant to help low-income families. It should do that, but when benefits for a non-income family of 4 are $668 monthly there is something wrong. this program is in need of serious reform. If I am a household of 3 and have a baby, my benefit immediately increases from $526 per month to $668. Tell me how an infant is going to eat $142 in food per month. Don't include formula as all food stamp recipients are automatically eligible for WIC and infant formula and food is provided by WIC. Also, how many people are abusing the regulation where you can declare you prepare and purchase food separately from your significant other as long as you are not married. I have 2 kids and live with my boyfriend. I don't work but my boyfriend makes $30 per hour. I just tell the food stamp office that we purchase and prepare our meals separately and none of his income is counted and I get the full $526 per month in food stamps. As long as we don't have mutual children, we can sleep together but just say we don't eat together and we can have all our food paid for. Noone checks this. It is just the applicants word. I, too, worked for SNAP and you would not believe how many people "eat separately" from their boyfriends! Food assistance is a good program for those who really need it, but as always is the case with any program, there are many abuses. Some of the regulations set up by these lawmakers just ask for abuse. And working folks don't have that much left over after bills either to spend $526 a month on food. They just need to seriously look at this program. Help those in need and don't make it a joke.

    November 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Let's just take it as a given that in any system, someone will come up with a way to "game it". So the question is whether you're willing to put up with some fraud to make sure that everyone in need is helped, or if you are willing to sacrifice some in need to prevent fraud by others.

      November 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
      • Jason

        Demand accoutability of the system. Most people would love to help those in need. The issue is the day in, day out abuse of the system. The money waisted is our tax dollars. Each time yours taxes goe up you should wonder, if people were not gaming the system would this be happening?

        November 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • webster washington@BB

      Wow, totally jacked up.

      November 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Normally@CosmicC

      Normally I would agree with you. But what if "just accept it as inevitable" was the at!itude of the companies that work, for example, to keep spam out of your inbox? Wouldn't it make more sense to allow funding to create more jobs to police government programs like food stamps and welfare, to help lessen the type of fraud you're talking about?

      November 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  16. Mike in Pekin

    This little "experiment" is how government spending gets out of control. The $31.50 per week is PER PERSON!! I feed my family of 4 (with 2 teenagers) on that much, and no one in our house is starving. When you try to gfeed just one person, it is much harder, because you end up with more waste as a percentage of the food you cook. Cooking for 4 people at a time reduces that waste. Also, most packaged foods are portioned in multiple serving sizes. And since when is eating rice, beans, pasta and potatoes a bad thing? And while fresh veggies are nice to have, frozen or canned vegetables do the job just as well.

    By the way, I am not on, nor have I ever been on food stamps. In my 27 years since I started working, I have drawn unemployment for a total of maybe 5 months. I could spend alot more on food, but I don't, because I have to save to put my kids through college. I don't want anyones help doing it, but at the same time, i don't want anyone taking more of my hard earned money so these "poor disadvantaged souls" can eat better than me. And we wonder why congress has a 9% approval rating?

    November 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  17. LuzLuna-Illegal Immigrent

    I wish the government would change the taste of the glue on these stamps. Taste is terrible.

    November 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Jorge

      "Immigrent?" Really??? Don't tell me, you're one of those folks folks who whines about not being able to get a proofreader's job because of all the damn b&@ners...

      November 2, 2011 at 8:00 am |
      • Unemployed Proofreader

        "folks folks"

        November 2, 2011 at 8:03 am |
      • Doctor Hertz@Jorge

        Stop by my office tomorrow. We're having a special on installing Sense of Humor 2.0

        November 2, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  18. BigGMFan

    Awesome! The Food Stamp Challenge! It’s a really proud day for all of us when we learn that our elected “peers” are able to slap us all in the face by making a fun game out of pretending to be poor. “What would you do if YOU were a poor senior citizen with $30 per week for food? Well, I’d live on Cap’n Crunch! Hahaha! That’s hilarious!” What a bunch of jerk + offs. How about this – Being poor is difficult. End of story. Now figure out what we can do to change that.

    November 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • down the rabbit hole

      If there was a way to make money off of helping the poor, poverty would vanish within a year.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bill

      Yeah, tell that to me after I've seen the people who spent $300 worth of foodstamps to buy groceries for their families, only to walk out of the store and load them up in the brand new Caddy or Lincoln! Seen it with my own eyes, and was just flabbergasted that the person in question had no qualms about doing it. The system is broken, and has become just another scam for people who don't want to work for their living.

      November 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  19. foodstampcashier

    Has anyone stopped to wonder why foodstamps even exist? Why is it the responsibility of our government to feed people? Ok, so someone in government, out of the kindness of their hearts, decided to help out people who are having a hard time. Help, not support. Now these people are complaining that the hand out isn't enough? Something is wrong here. Whatever happened to taking care of ourselve?. We need to teach people responsibility and gratitude. If someone gave one of my children $30 and they said "I want more than that." I would be embarassed.

    November 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Helping those in need is part of the social contract implicit in reaping the benefits of our society. Don't like it? Withdraw from our society, go off the grid, don't use the roads, airways, airwaves, don't live on public land, etc. While I'm at it, don't breath clean air or drink clean water.
      I'd say just go back to being a cave man, but that would ignore the fact that they certainly took care of their needy.

      November 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
      • Why Use Facts

        Could you tell me more about where I can read up on the "fact" that the cave men took care of their needy? I hadn't seen where anyone had found any proof of that. If you start claiming "facts" that aren't facts people will question every word you say.

        November 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
      • momof7

        Why use facts – that cave men cared for each other is evidenced by the recovery of remains of disabled adults. They could not have supported themselves. Therefore the assumption must be made that someone else did so. Someone must have carried this individual and provided food and shelter for them as I don't believe they had power wheel chairs, grocery stores, and hospice back then.

        November 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • mrsl

      The problem is a lot of these peple aren't embarassed at all and they do complain that the government isn't taking good care of them. There needs to be a time iimit that you can be on government assistance. Welfare is not a career choice.

      November 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
      • grumpy old coot

        Bingo! No shame what so ever at all.

        November 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Jorge

      It's not the role of government to subsidize oil companies and the tobacco industry, bail out mismanaged banks, finance the development of jet engines that it does not want, invade foreign countries on a hunch, revoke the constitutional rights of it's citizens, pay farmers not to grow or give corporations the same rights as human individuals either, but there you go.

      November 2, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  20. Byrd

    And not one republican? And why is that not surprising? Ignorance is apparently bliss with all members of the RNC.

    November 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Why Use Facts

      Maybe the Republicans are demonstrating that if you earn what you need then you don't have to rely on what you can sponge off of society.

      November 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  21. Queen Lattice

    the lawmakers who participate in this challenge are about to get one rude awakening!

    November 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • bed

      Not a chance in h ell, my friend.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  22. Bell

    Wow, I didn't realized you'd let the media ingrain that "blame the victims" more so much. Personally, with one in five children in poverty I have no problem with food stamps. What I have a problem with is the so-called "job creators" paying themselves 300 times more, and then stealing more than the GDP of the world!

    November 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  23. Ms. Erika

    @momof7: You lent yourself out to ridicule by 'complaining' about your life when you had 7 kids. Unless you & your husband were independently wealthy, how did you believe having that many kids would be feasible? Now my tax dollars helps to supplement your lives. I'm a divorced mother of two. I've NEVER been on food stamps. Even when I knew I qualified. You know what else I didn't do? Have additional children. Don't try claim "Mother of the Year" Award just because you & your spouse chose to breed more children than you can afford. You have the AUDACITY to complain??!?! Oh because you paid a some taxes along the way you think it's okay to sponge off of me because things got a little tight?!?!?! You or your husband can get a 2nd or 3rd job and make more than what you are stealing out of my pocket. Food stamps should only be for the aged and the infirm. Not some couple who had too many kids too feed and not enough in long term savings and investments to weather a temporary economic setback. People like you make me sick.

    November 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • da bing man

      daayyuum! mo fo got da slamma jamma!

      November 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • momof7

      Sponging off you eh? How much was your latest tax refund as a single mom? We didn't get one. We paid. Because we work hard. Things happen. Sometimes you need a little help. It's not being a hero to decline that help. It's stubborn stupidity. The quicker a family is back on their feet the more likely they are to stay there. And who complained about assistance? I'm very relieved and appreciate that it's available. My complaints are with idiots who pretend to be knowledgeable spreading lies and half truths. Not with the temporary assistance we receive at the moment.

      And if anyone is interested we manage just fine on the $200 food budget for our family. We cut back, made some adjustments, supplement with home growns, etc and are willing to share how we do this with anyone who actually wishes to cut their food budget while still eating healthy. When things settle down here again we'll likely continue with this budget as we've found it to actually be preferable to the previous high cash budget.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
      • Um

        Paying instead of receiving a tax return does not mean you've worked hard necessarily. (Not that I'm saying you don't, but that it's not an indicator.) It could mean a lot of things ranging from you being self-employed, to claiming dependents through the year. I'm guessing that with seven children, you and your husband claim a lot of dependents. You paying at the end of the year indicates that there's a discrepancy between what you've owed in taxes through the year, and what you've actually paid.

        Those of us who are paying more in taxes through the year and receiving back a tax return are actually contributing more to the system, as we are essentially loaning the government our extra wages, which they earn interest on until they are required to return the extra to us. We don't receive any of that benefit.

        I'm not trying to discredit your life. I'm just trying to correct that statement. Not receiving a tax return does not mean that you work harder than someone who does, of that the person who receives a return is better off than you are. Most families pay at the end of the year.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
      • Ms. Erika

        Stupid to not accept food stamps? You mean it was stupid of me to cut expenses? To not have additional kids? To take on a second and third job and barter for childcare? To further my education and job skills and get a better paying job by putting myself through undergrad and grad school after leaving the Army? To shop at Goodwill? To buy store brands and no snacks? To not go on a PUBLIC website bemoaning my lot in life when I put myself in that position and be surprised when others who have done better with less call me out on it?

        Yeah that's so stupid of me.

        My income tax refund? I've only gotten back what I've overpaid. No EIC here sister. In fact I owed the past two years. I've been single 17 years raising my girls. They are wonderful people who have done quite well for themselves. My youngest will enter college next fall. She works, has an A average and is on a budget. The oldest is 21, works for the Department of the Air Force as a civilian and will enter college in January.

        You have the audacity to be a TWO PARENT household, both of you have jobs and you wave your $200 food stamp ENTITLEMENT at us like it's some proud flag to wave. You got some balls lady. I've had help along the way for sure from family, friends and coworkers. But I've not taken ANYTHING from fellow taxpayers other than my salary and benefits as a soldier and now an employee of the Dept of Defense. I've worked private sector for decades and know the pitfalls of layoffs. Been laid off twice. But still no charity for me. Again, if you were permanently disabled or too old to work I'd understand and I'd be the first to gladly help you. But don't get all butt hurt because as a taxpayer, I'm pissed that you bred consistently and expect me, my daughters (who work and also pay taxes) to feed them. I didn't ask you do take of my daughters so why are we taking care of your litter?

        November 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
      • momof7

        um, We pay in exactly what we need to pay in throughout the year. Thank you for your interpretation but in this case it's wrong. The difference is we do not qualify for unearned income. However, as I've said, this is not a topic about politics, it's about living within the limited food budget, how to manage it, and how to make it healthy at the same time.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
      • webster washington@momof7

        Everything is political, everything.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
      • momof7

        You really like that word AUDACITY I see. New word of the week? You should try some comprehension skills next. I haven't complained about my life. I'm quite satisfied and proud that we've done so well regardless of the many challenges. You, however, seem to have a chip on your shoulder the size of a small country and some serious anger issues. Maybe you should look into counseling. I don't blame you. I'm sure raising 2 children was very difficult.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
      • momof7

        Oh, and I'm not sure where you got the '2 incomes' thing from. I'm also not sure why it's considered a negative to be a 2 parent family. I made a good choice in husband the first time and meant it for life. I'm happy to say he also feels the same even though I'm now legally blind. We're learning to manage on our own in a different way by myself working at home to grow our own food as I'm learning to do that blind now. It's really changed our lives but we are coping. Thank you for your concern. And I thank God for giving me the AUDACITY to persevere in the face of great trials. Charity is charity whether it comes from family, friends, or an ebt card. I hope you thanked your family for the charity they gave during your own time of need.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
      • Jimbocoles

        @ MS Erica – Perhaps you need to step down off your high horse. I have news for you, The military industrial complex that SUPPORTS YOUR FAMILY is BY FAR a bigger drain on this country than all of the public assistance x 1000. You are a part of the single biggest leach on the average American taxpayer out there. And that is a FACT.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
      • Um

        Not to be argumentative, I'm really not trying to say anything bad, but taxes don't work that way. You have a set amount that you have to pay according to your income, assets, credits and exemptions. If you pay that exact amount through the year, you don't pay anything and you don't receive anything back. If you pay too much, you receive a return. If you don't pay enough, you have to pay the difference at the end of the year.

        The process may not be easy or simple, but that concept is. If you are truly paying your full amount in taxes and then have to pay an extra fee, you should hire a lawyer, because something is wrong.

        Please don't get me wrong. I'm sure you are working very hard. If you only get $200 in SNAP for 7 children, you must be working at least one full time job between the two of you. I'm sure you do well by your family. However, paying taxes is not something that determines how hard you are working.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • farmerjeani

      Girlfriend, you have some serious introspection you need to do. Maybe this lady is a devout catholic, which still bans birth control, by the way. Maybe at the time they had their children they could afford them, but the corporate thieves who stole our economy caused them to lose their jobs. Maybe she has a medical condition that precludes the most effective forms of birth control. Maybe she is a Christian and doesn't believe in abortion so that door was also closed to her. No matter what the reason she has 7 children, do you think the children are responsible and should pay the price of hunger? If you truly feel that way, then I feel sorry for your two children. I bet they are nice and neat. have pristine bedrooms, video games and cell phones, but no love. You need some anger management.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
      • seraphim0


        the backwards thinking of the catholic church is almost legendary (and I was raised a catholic). If they didn't understand the risks they were taking if they had unprotected intercourse, then they should have never been having it in the first place, andthat falls to stupidity. IF that were the case, that is.

        Placing it on a religious angle is utterly ridiculous. Seven children is vastly beyond reasonable. In days past, multiple children where had to help support the family- i.e. working on chores, spreading around responsibility, etc. There is no reason for that many children, and when you need food stamps you wonder why. Ridiculous.

        Though you refuse to see it, she has a point. I would be willing to wager that this lady would either not have needed food stamps, or would be on them for less time if she hadn't given birth to SEVEN children.

        Oh, and yes, I'm a democrat. One who has contempt for people who abuse the system, and those who overextend themselves, then wonder why they need government assistance.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
      • momof7

        Thank you Jeani. You never know what's in the background of someone else's life. Some people do 'work the system'. I'm not one of them and I find it amazing how many people see large families as an immediate irresponsibility and conclude they must be having children to qualify for more public assistance. I know a great number of large families and very few of them are on assistance of any kind. Those that are or have been was a temporary hand up not a hand out or a life career.

        We were indeed set financially to support our growing family comfortably. Many medical expenses, job loss, raised cost of living, and family disaster resulting in myself going blind and having long term medical issues has not stopped us from providing for ourselves. It has simply meant some time to recover and adjust to the changes required to become self-sufficient again in a new way. Despite the challenges our family continues to thrive and we expect to be assistance free very soon. We've appreciated that it was available, but also acknowledge that it has been far from easy. So it is very disturbing to hear people rant as if we're all leeches of the worst sort. We certainly would not CHOOSE these circumstances. And the purpose of putting my story out for others to comment on is encourage others in a similar situation that it can be done and offer suggestions and support that worked for us. God Bless.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
      • John

        LMAO@farmerjeani-seriously??? Just because you -can- afford something doesn't mean you -should-. Even if,at one time,someone could afford to sustain that many children,don't you think some kind of contingency plan should be made in the event that they could no longer afford them? Cause once they're here,unless you put them up for adoption,they're here for 18 years(or more),last I checked. And a "medical condition that precludes effective birth control"? Like what,"I-can't-keep-my-legs-closed"-itis? If you don't believe in abortion don't put yourself in a position (pun unintended) to need one.

        Pick another hole or something,geez!

        November 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
      • Ms. Erika

        Perfect kids? I wish!!!! They're no worse or better than many of their contemporaries. What they do have is an incredible amount of respect for me. They also love me. I see them both everyday. We go to movies and events together. We love and honor each other. They get on my nerves as I do on theirs. We have arguments and we have celebrations. They've not always made good decision and neither have I. But they know honor, courage and respect. They both work hard and are fully engaged in politics. They have earned my respect and I know they will NEVER have more children than they can afford. I know many Catholic (fully practicing and not) to include my own father's family and my ex-husband and his family. Many of them limited their family sizes and still followed their faith, so to use religion or non-belief in abortion as an excuse is ludicrous. You have SEVEN kids because you want to. Simple as that. So stop giving me excuses and trying to insult me because I did the right thing and not rely on you to take care of me and mine.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
      • Lex

        If you cannot afford them do not have them.

        November 2, 2011 at 4:28 am |
    • Barbara

      You sound like a Republican. Oh by the way, the Repubs. are the ones who want to stop Planned Parenthood from providing birth control at low or no cost. You can't have it both ways. Either you feed them or provide bith control.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
      • Liberal Stooge@Barbara

        Au contraire mon cheri. Republicans can have it both ways because that's the basis of their platform: minimal governmental interference. Under their way of thinking, the average joe/jane not only should be allowed to make hisher own decisions without government interference, they also reap the benefits and pay the piper. All without the government getting in the way. But that's all for the civix lesson today. This is a food blog and it's wrong to politicize a food blog.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
      • Truth@Barbara

        Wow, but do I ever hate is when people talk politics on a food blog...:)

        November 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Charlie

      I agree 100%. There are absolutely too many people out there 'stealing' from the Government. Do you suppose some of those people now are part of the Occupy group? Those are the people that will complaint the loudest instead of getting up off their asses and getting a job (a minimum wage job is more honorable that welfare). And the woman who had 7 children and kept popping them out, she should have been sterilized years ago before it got this far out of hand.

      November 2, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  24. mo fo to u

    gimmy my food stamp you owe it to me!

    November 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • eff da man

      true dat!

      November 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  25. awboan@gmail.com

    hey check it out

    November 1, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  26. Doug

    Ah, our prestigious elected officials come down from their thrones to see how the little people manage to get by. Now all they have to do is cut their salaries by 75^, get rid of their free for life health care and pension fund and maybe just maybe they might be close. Since there are religious groups running this project, are there any republicans involved? Surely since it's a church based experiment and they are always on top of and are stewards of religious righteousness they have to be participating in droves right?

    November 1, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  27. Joey

    Who only gets $30 a week? I work at a major natural and organic grocer and see food stampers buying hundreds of dollars of premade sushi, seafood, expensive organic juices, pizza, etc. etc. all the time...and we wonder why we are in debt in this country

    November 1, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • farmerjeani

      Joey that's $30.00 per week per person. That's $120 a month per person.You should be happy that they are buying healthy natural foods for their family and helping secure YOUR job by shopping in a natural foods store! They could be spending it potato chips, sugar coated cereal and candy bars. Then the tax payers would be paying higher costs for medical and dental. By the way, all of the rabid Obama haters that think the health care plan is going to hurt you-you pay their medical costs anyway. Without health insurance people can't see the doctor until their condition is serious and then they go to emergency room and can't pay the bill. Hospital costs go up, insurance goes up and you pay for the defaulted medical care whether you realize it or not. Better to support health care so illness is prevented with regular doctor visits or at least treated early to keep the costs down.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Amunaka

      All the time huh...

      November 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  28. humpty hump dumpty

    All you conservative haters need to read the Grapes of Wrath.

    November 1, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Byrd

      Most can't read anything beyond 142 characters, but it was a nice thought nonetheless.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  29. Jason L.

    Why is anyone trying to live off of or expecting anyone to live off of food stamps anyway? They are meant to be a supplement only. People getting them are usually already getting welfare, and WIC if they have children, OR if not welfare then usually they are under-employed, working for minimum wage or only working part time and earning below the poverty level. No one should be getting enough in food stamps to live off of, if they are then they are getting too much.

    November 1, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • howdy ho there

      Spot on.

      You don't know how many times I haved asked someone on my staff to work some extra hours and I get this response. "Oh no, I can't work any more hours, I'll lose my benefits."

      November 1, 2011 at 11:44 am |
      • vivvo

        yup. i left the "evil corporate world" about a year ago. not necessarily my choice at the time but i'm much happier now if not a whole lot poorer... :) :) :) i work 6 days a week by my choice so that i can make ends meet. and if i only worked the 5 days i would qualify for every benefit there is available. food stamps, energy assist, rent assist, free healthcare... you name it. but because i choose to work, i make too much and qualify for none of them and am trying to figure out how i can at least get yearly exams. but i'm having a very hard time because i'm a single female just past child bearing age. so i'm cut off of getting anything to do with being female in the healthcare area. also, i don't have any kids and so i can't claim anything off of their existance. why, oh why do i continue to do the "right" thing and get punished for it?

        November 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
      • U Halva Choice@vivvo

        Punished? Sounds like you're living the dream to me. You are in control of when you work, you don't have to live off the gov't and you aren't working for "da man." It may not be Nirvana, but it's the kind of punishment I could take. kd

        November 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
      • There's a good idea...

        It sounds like they need those benefits. Making an extra few bucks to take a couple of extra hours one time would certainly not be worth long term benefits that keep your head above water.

        Maybe you should be paying your employees more.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
      • howdy ho there@There's a good idea....

        They work in a hospital and trust me, they make more than a living wage. They have it figured out down to the penny what they should make in order to maximize their WIC, food stamps, section 8 rent and free clinic healthcare. No lie.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
      • vivvo

        @U Halva Choice@vivvo
        "living the dream"? assume much? i am not self employed. and i am not looking for handouts. merely pointing out that because i choose to take RESPONSIBILITY for myself and support myself, i end up subsidizing others. try reading what is there and getting off of the attack.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
      • U Halva Choice@vivvo

        No attacks. See the "kd" at the end? That means kidding. It sounded like you weren't taking your "punishment" seriously, so neither was I. I was commending you on taking responsibility. Apologies if it sounded otherwise.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
      • There's a good idea...

        Howdy ho, that's a shame. I know of people who are like that as well. Taking advantage of things like disability pay, bereavement time, etc., and viewing them as rightful pay. In that case, they should be ashamed.

        However, if they are receiving SNAP in the first place, they fall under the requirements to receive it. You have to do an awful lot to fall under those requirements. I investigated to see if I could receive them a couple years ago when I was even worse off than I am now, and supporting my younger brother to boot. I had to be making next to nothing (I had a full time, albeit low paying, job) and have nothing in the bank (I had something like $500 in savings, not even enough for one month's rent), and own nothing (I owned a car).

        I'm sure it's a little easier if there are kids involved. But it seems like you really have to be in need just to qualify for any kind of assistance.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
      • vivvo

        U Halva Choice@vivvo
        o.k.. sorry. thank you for the clarification. i guess i just see red sometimes with this topic. my bad.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
      • BetaJane

        yep, I remember how many calls I got when a recipient went to work and their food stamp benefit was reduced. ..some even said they would have "to quit their jobs, if they were going to lose their food stamps"! Like I said, some appreciate the help and use it temporarily and others take it for all they can get.

        November 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Carolyn Cannon

      You forget that some of us who get food stamps can't work, & trust me my $620.00 a month doesn't go far. Now they're talking about cutting medicare & medicare & food stamps, but the price of food keeps getting higher & so does medicine, payments to doctors, & rent... Yeah some of us are really living it up.. Walk a mile in someones shoes before making blanket comments please.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
      • dom625

        You get $620 per month just for food? My husband and I both work and we have two kids. We still cannot afford that much in monthly groceries. We have to hunt for sales and shop at bargain places. Consider yourself lucky.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
      • meg

        You're complaining about getting $620/MONTH in food stamps?? I hope you have a large family to feed with that. I can't even think of how my house could spend that much money a month in food (and we mainly buy fresh produce.)

        November 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • farmerjeani

      Surely you understand that people who work minimum wage jobs get food stamps because all of their income is taken up by rent, utilities, gas, car insurance (have to have a car to work, even a minimum wage job), essentials like laundry soap,tooth paste, shampoo deodorant, etc. People who make enough to cover these items with some left over get less in food stamps. In other words If you have enough left after you pay all of your essential bills (car payments, car insurance, phone service, clothing are NOT allowable expenses) to pay $30.00 per week per person for food, you don't get food stamps. All of you people who think people are living high on welfare and food stamps need to get online and do some homework! Then try living your life they way they have to live theirs-move to a slum, live on their budget, drive a crappy car that breaks down every other week, try to find school clothes for your kids at the thrift store and then you can make comments about the great life on welfare. PS I'm NOT on any kind of aide but have done a lot of volunteer work for my church so I know what these folks, mostly single moms, go through.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  30. Saboth

    It's really easy to live on $30-$40 a week. You are just going to be eating extremely unhealthily. Lots of cheap pasta, fats, hot dogs, etc. Very very few vegetables, fruits and high quality proteins. Now wonder why these same people need more doctor's visits.

    November 1, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • csnord

      Wrong. I'm a good cook and cook a lot. You can make very healthy and nutritious meals on $30 -$40 per week. Fruit and vegetables can be a large part of that, but you have to know where to shop, what to buy, and how to cook. It's that last bit that wraps people around the axle. For about $3, I can buy enough oatmeal for a month's worth of breakfasts, but no, it does not come out of a packet in a box per-sugared and flavored. It's whole grain steel cut oats and is a very nutritious breakfast.

      As for "high quality proteins", you only need a three to four ounce serving of protein three times a week, and you can get that from one chicken breast. The bulk of your intake should be carbs so buy store brand whole wheat pasta and bulk grains like quinoa, brown rice, and millet. Combine those with fresh or frozen vegetables (frozen spinach is one of the best buys in the store), and a variety of beans (cooked from dry), and you can eat very healthy meals on a very limited budget.

      ...but you have to know how to cook.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:52 am |
      • brian

        One thing that too many people miss: Where are the Supermarkets that serve the inner cities? Most don't exist, so most people rely on small gas-station like stores that have plenty of poor foods and no fruits or vegetables. Transportations can also be the issue. Sorry, it's not only about knowing how to cook. Other factors exist as well.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
      • Bill

        Good post. It's a shame that we have sacrificed the art of cooking for "equality". I know that will get some folks angry, but I think we were all better off when females got "home ec" in school. Cooking is indeed an art.

        November 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
      • Erica

        Bill – Why is it only "females" that need Home Ec in school? THAT is why you will get slapped by equality. Males should learn how to cook just as much as females. They should also know how to perform basic repair on their own clothes. They should also know how to CLEAN! And correctly so!

        The world is not what it once was. You cannot expect 'only' girls to know the home ec stuff, because with the cost of living as it is, BOTH sexes have to work!

        For those clamoring that people should get jobs... are you also counting the fact that if both parents have to work, they also have to find a job that makes the daycare/babysitting costs WORTH the job? I've looked into it... there are no jobs within 40 miles of my house that would make the daycare cost for JUST my 2 year old worth it, let alone the hours after school ends for my daughter.

        Fortunately, I manage to make enough that it isn't necessary just yet, but there have been a few months where money is very tight. I can cook. I do my best to maintain a good budget. I also deal with asthma, MS, and the assorted meds that go with it.

        I do not judge people who get assistance... I judge once I see how they use that assistance. And that means that I judge on each individual case that is brought to my attention. I also dig to find out how long they've been on that assistance. For all you know, that nice car they're driving might not be theirs, or it might have been gifted, or it might have been bought long before they ended up on assistance.

        Those nice nails they have? They might have done it themselves. Manicure sets are cheap, and if they're only buying one 2-3 times a month, that may be the only 'nice' money they have for themselves. I don't begrudge them that when I see smokers spending hundreds of dollars on their addictions, or drinkers buying liquor and beer out the yinyang.

        I also acknowledge that there is a lot of fraud in the system, and I think that drug testing is a GREAT idea. So long as that drug test does not restrict your medicines, then it's all good. I know for a fact I would pop positive on some steroids thanks to my asthma meds, and certainly after a relapse in the MS department (corticosteroids anyone?)

        Losing benefits due to LEGAL drugs would be a disgusting shame.

        November 2, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • John

      Not sure how true that is...I can get a huge head of romaine lettuce for $1.00,a dozen tomatoes for $2.99,a cucumber for .79,a package of celery for $1.49 and a jar of olives for $1.49 and not even broke $10,yet have salad for lunch for the week. (trust me,I do this almost every week-I LOVE salad fortunately!) There is a farmer's market/strip area about 3 miles from my house that I go to on Saturdays,and I walk or bike to it,even though I have a car. I enjoy the free exercise,I save on gas,and it gets me out of the house. In the winter,I admit,I do drive there. I can purchase a package of chicken breasts in the local grocery store for $4.99,and cook them with rice,or a whole-grain pasta for dinner. Sometimes I have various soups. I quit drinking pop/soda years ago,and drink the free Polar water we have at work. So yeah,it is possible to eat pretty healthy on a lower budget. You just have to be creative about it and actually want to have a hand in it!

      November 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
      • CosmicC

        I guess you missed Brian's post about the availability of this sort of food in many urban areas, never mind your prices (maybe in-season in rural areas).

        November 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  31. Vicki

    First off, food stamp recipients do not eat on $30 per week. As an employee who authorizes food stamp benefits, the minimum monthly benefit for a household of one is $200. If you divide that by 4.3, you get $46.51 per week and it is the same across the US as food stamps are federally funded. Where do they come up with $30 per week–CNN should check the correct amounts before publishing this and broadcasting the wrong amounts for food stamps. All you need to do is go to SNAP website and it gives all allotments. A household of 2 = $367, 3 = $526, 4 = $668, 5 = $793 and more for each additional member. Incredibly, it doesn't matter if a household member is an infant of 1 mth or a 90-yr old, the benefit is the same for each household. I have a family of 4 and I never spend $668 a month on food or I wouldn't have anything left for the bills. Also, the food stamp program is not meant to feed a household completely, it is a SUPPLEMENTAL program to help low income families with their food expense. I for one think these allotments are way too much! I wish I had that much to spend on food per month!

    November 1, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • bo diddly@Vicki

      Hear, hear!

      November 1, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Nicole

      I must argue with you on what you say is the minimum given is 200$ per month. I am employed but qualify for food assistance, I receive 93$ a month.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:49 am |
      • Tennis Ball

        While I am not certain, I believe that this is the maximum benefits a person receives with $ -0- NET income for a family of 1.

        November 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • momof7

      I think if your job is approving stamps you should be fired. All stamp recipients do not receive the same amount. Anyone can look online and find the maximum allotments by family size. But someone who claims to work there should know the more you work, the less you get. Our family of 9 receives a supplement of $200 per month. We do not qualify for wic, medical, cash, or any other type of assistance because we work. And you should be ashamed for passing round the mistaken impression that all recipients of snap benefits are non-working low lifes who live off the system with an oversized free food budget.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:57 am |
      • vicki

        And you should be ashamed for passing round the mistaken impression that all recipients of snap benefits are non-working low lifes who live off the system with an oversized free food budget.........EXCUSE ME....did I say that or did you?

        November 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • csnord

      @Nichole: That is because benefits are adjusted for income. thirty percent of your net income is deducted from the benefit because the household is expected to spend 30% of net earnings on food. Since you are employed, you receive a lower allotment. If your income were $0, your allotment would be $200.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • AEB

      As a working food stamp recipient, I have to call bullshit on Vicki.
      My family of 5 receives $550.00 per month. That is $110.00 per month, per person. That is $27.50 per week. $200.00 is not the minimum for a 1 person household, which I know to be true because my great-grandmother living on social security gets a little over $20.00 per month in SNAP.
      I understand that it is a supplemental nutrition program, but it is a joke. A gallon of milk is almost $4.00. A pound of ground beef is over $3.00. I am not a bum looking for a handout. I work 6 days a week, if overtime is offered, I take it regardless of how it will effect my so-called "benefits." I don't want to be on food stamps. I wish that I could afford to feed my kids healthy foods that I felt good about feeding them. Instead, I am restricted to mystery meat hot dogs and boxed macaroni and cheese many nights because it simply isn't enough for a family of 5. Let me break it down for you. I make $11.00 an hour. After taxes, I bring home around $900 every 2 weeks. $1800 a month sounds great when I get $550 of help from Uncle Sam, right? Wrong. My rent is almost $700 for a 2 bedroom apartment. My electric bill has been over $300 a month for the past year (and "they" say energy costs went down?!). It costs me around $50 a week in gas just to go to work and back home. I have 2 children in diapers, which is absolutely astronomical considering that a pack of diapers is nearly $15.00. By the time we pay the little luxuries, like internet and a phone, our money is depleted. I am lucky to come out of the month with a positive balance in my bank account. I am not a lazy baby maker looking for a hand out. I am a hard working mom that wants a good life for my family. I desperately want the things that normal people have. I want health insurance (but where would I get $600 a month?) and a decent place to live where my 3 kids don't have to share a bedorom. Who can do that on $1800.00 a month plus $550.00 food stamps? Because I surely can't.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
      • dom625

        Nothing personal, or anything, but there is you and three kids. Where is the fifth person coming in? Spouse/significant other? Does this other person work?

        November 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
      • AEB

        My husband is the 5th. I am not one of those women that just has a "shack mate" and gets child support from my 3 "baby daddies." I have been married for 6 years and he is the father of all of my children.
        He can't work right now for a few reasons. We have 3 children. We cannot afford daycare for them. In order to qualify for assistance with daycare (referred to as CCS in our area), you must be working at least 25 hours a week before you apply. Then, you have to wait a few months on the list before you can get assistance. I do not have $250 a week to cover the daycare for the months that we are waiting. He has been trying to find a part time evening or a night job, but there is just nothing here. Its not that we do not want to be a household with 2 incomes, because it would certainly help, but its just not feasible without daycare.
        We honestly tried to get on CCS and have 2 incomes last year. When we finally got our interview for CCS, his job had cut his hours on the "most recent paystub" that they had requested. Since he only worked 22 hours that week, and not 25 (which is the minimum requirement), we were denied. Even though we were able to prove that he had worked 30 hours some of the weeks before. It didn't matter, we were still denied and he eventually lost his part time job. He was only working the part time job so that we could qualify for CCS and his available working hours would open up so that he could get a good, full time job and eventually get us off of assistance.

        November 2, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • csnord

      @MomOf7 - Seven kids and you cannot feed them? I don't think the shame is on Vicki. We know what causes children, perhaps you should consider a little restraint so the rest of us don't have to pay for your poor judgement.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
      • momof7

        Of course I can feed them. Now I can feed them a little better. We use snap as it's intended. We work hard, pay in, and when the economy hit us hard and we had hard times snap is there to supplement until we've adjusted. There's no shame in that. The shame is in spreading lies and judging others without knowing the facts. You're wrong. Get over yourself.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
      • seraphim0

        Actually, he has a point. Unless you were assaulted several times and were made pregnant and decided not to give a child for adoption, or explore other options– you put yourself in your situation. I hardly think he needs to 'get over himself.'

        You have seven kids and you're on stamps.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Bell

      Wrong. Disabled people here in IL get about $12. a month.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • jlweich

      Really Vicki, are you absolutely certain? Because I am a household of one and my foodstamps are only $50 a month. If you would like me to break that down for you that's $11.63 a week.

      I make approximately $878 a month, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less since I work at a school that needs me more during semesters. My student loans, which payed for the education needed to even get this job, come out to $294 a month. My rent for a one bedroom apartment is $525 a month with only trash pickup and water included. In the summer I managed to get both my gas and electric bills down to $22, so there's $44 there. I don't own a car because I can't afford to keep one, so most days I work at the one building a bit closer to my house and walk 45 minutes to work and 45 minutes home. Usually I work one day a week at the other building which requires me to take the bus which costs $4.50 to go both ways. Multiply that by four times a month and that's $18. Oh, would you look at that, I'm already $3 short for the month and I haven't even bought food, toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, or any of the other things that you take for granted every single day. And don't forget, my gas and electric bills were for the summer and I live in a northern state, which means those bills skyrocket in the winter months.

      Oh how lucky I am to be poor with my $50 a month. If only you could be as fortunate as me, poor, poor Vicki! You know what's sad too Vicki? I know I'm rather fortunate, because I still have a job, because I don't have kids to take care of, because I am in relatively good health, but many others can't say the same. For that reason, even with the little I have, I still find time to give a canned goods, old clothes, and even time to those who have less than me. Why are you, who obviously has so much, complaining about the poor instead of actually helping them?

      November 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
      • Vicki

        My mistake, I typed minimum instead of maximum. The MAXIMUM for a household of 1 is $200.00. That is someone without any income. REMEMBER–the food stamp program is a supplement to those who have income. If you have income, you are expected to contribute toward your food expense. So for these folks to be trying to eat for $30 per week is not realistic as even a 1-person household with NO other income receives $200 in food stamps or $46.51 weekly. Obviously these lawmakers have other income, but are limiting their food budget to $30 per week, which is not even close to being comparable. Food stamps for those with income was never meant to be the sole source of your food. And if you think I "obviously have so much", you are sadly mistaken. Your rant on making money stretch through the month is one we are all struggling with. My point is although I work and have a household of 4, I never have enough money to spend $668 per month on food and a household who does not have income is issued a MAXIMUM of $668 for food a month. Tell me how that works out. It's a simple conclusion that if you work and don't have money to fork out almost $700 per month for food each month, why should someone with no income but same household size as you be given more money for food monthly than you can afford?

        November 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  32. Hawk

    Unless these people are also foregoing any dining with friends/family, taking bag lunches to school/work/etc, moving from their nice houses to much more modest means, and so forth – they really aren't even getting close to a snapshot of the picture. It is all well and good to eat off of $31.50 per month, if you know that you have a nice home, a nice bed, the utilities are paid, etc.

    November 1, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  33. Jason L.

    I've never heard of anyone getting only $31.50 on food stamps. What is that, per week, per person. Does that mean a family of four gets $504 a month? While working as a cashier, I did notice a lot of people with cartloads of food, hundreds of dollars worth, paying with their SNAP cards. Then they get uppity when some energy drink isn't covered and they have to pay $1.50 out of pocket. Then they use what cash they have to buy beer, cigarettes, lingerie or DVDs.

    How about food stamp recipients take the "work to eat" challenge, and when they get that $31.50 check, before they can spend it, they spend 4 1/4 hours wearing an outfit someone else chooses for them, bending, lifting, carrying 25-40 lb boxes up and down ladders, waiting on customers, cleaning up spills, and putting up with managers hovering over them telling them that they are doing everything wrong, and spend that entire 4 1/4 hours on their feet. Then maybe they would appreciate that $31.50 a little more than when it is given to them for nothing. Oh, and before they spend that check, take a little out for taxes because $31.50 for 4 1/4 hours work is the pre-tax rate. You can give them what is withheld back in April (because we know that people making minimum wage pay zero taxes), but just don't let them have it when they initially earn it.

    $31.50 may not be much to feed one person for one week. But when you get a lump some of $500+ at the beginning of the month, for a family, that much is more than enough to stock the fridge and freezer for the month, plan meals, and make sure that everyone is fed. Especially when the kids are getting 1-2 meals a day at school for free.

    $31.50 may not be much, but it is still $31.50 they didn't have to lift a finger for.

    November 1, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Vicki

      That's so true! I had forgot about the school-age kids also getting free breakfasts and lunches. All children of food stamp recipients automatically qualify for free meals at school! Also, most of these families also get commodities when distributed by the government, help with utilities through LIEAP program and subsidized rent!

      November 1, 2011 at 11:11 am |
      • Joshua

        I think everyone is missing the point....You're quibbling over nickles and dimes. The point is that you have people making a bear minimum to survive. And telling them to go "get a job" is a little facetious when we have 9%+ unemployment. The idea of this project is to have law makers see exactly what it's like to live with $30/week rather than having a $3,000/week food budget (made up number, I'm not quoting from anywhere), when you're talking about the difference between $30 and $50 per week is kind of irrelevant when you look at the difference between the lower class and the world of law makers and corporations.

        November 1, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • M.

      I actually get only $31 a month for foodstamps. I do work so that is the main reason why it is so low. I don't make enough to rent an apartment but I am working on getting additional work so that I can. For me, having the food stamps is something that I hope will only last a month or so. I just got to the point where my body could no longer deal with not getting any nutrients as I was only able to eat a few times a week and I realised that I was no use to anyone or myself if I didn't have any energy and was sick all the time.

      November 2, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  34. Alice W

    I think as part of this it would much more informative If they were not allowed to have a chef (personal or as part of a community) prepare said food for them, but had to take the time to shop for it and cook it themselves, so they couldn't rely on cheaper staple goods iwthout having to "pay" for it with time to execute the meal.

    November 1, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  35. momof7

    Now try it the way I have to. A family of 9 on $200 a month, 1 vehicle, limited gas $ for limited trips to the store, kids at home so no free lunches or breakfasts at school, no 'dining out for work' on an expense account for lunches to fill in. Not everyone gets the max amount. Those like us who work do not. Only those who don't work at all get the max.

    November 1, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Jason L.

      If you only have $200 a month to feed your family, why didn't you try using birth control or just not spreading your legs? Seven children is ridiculous, even if you don't get welfare or food stamps. $200 a month isn't enough to feed them adequately, you shouldn't have that many children. Never mind the environmental burden you put on future generations by having so many children in a world that already has 7 billion people. Let me guess, your litter is homeschooled? Don't complain about the school lunches they aren't getting because you made a choice to keep them out of school. Also don't complain when they grow up to be socially awkward rejects who think that the earth is only 5,000 years old, and don't pretend not to understand why their peers won't accept them as such.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:01 am |
      • momof7

        Issues much?

        November 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
      • R A Williams

        @Jason L. Your observations and mine are wildly out of step and I question whether yours have a basis in fact.

        The last family of 9 I got to know well was composed of two adults and seven children. The adults were a disabled veteran who worked part-time, and a homemaker who developed severe diabetes and vision problems to the point where she couldn't drive. She still earned extra cash by babysitting. Two of the teens were the youngest of the veteran's children from a previous marriage (before his wife died). Two others were his wife's children (she was a widow also; they met in some church sponsored thing for people who had lost a spouse). They had no children together, having married later in life. But the woman's sister had died young, leaving two daughters for her to raise. The last grandchild was the son of the veteran's eldest child, both of his parents were incarcerated for abusing the boy so the grandparents reported the abuse and took the boy in, saving him. Besides the incarcerated parents, exactly who do you think was being irresponsible? Nobody involved had more than two kids, everyone who had kids was married at the time, and the marriages that ended were ended by death, not by some random whim. Not one of the people who had kids, except possibly for the incarcerated abusive parents, were unhealthy at the time, nor did they have any reason to expect the obstacles that would arise later. Now, this family did get food stamps but I fail to see how any aspect of what befell them could have somehow have been predicted or avoided. (What was the veteran supposed to do: predict and dodge the bullet that went through his lung, Matrix-style?) The only thing I think I would have done differently, myself, is to purchase life insurance. Unfortunately they didn't belong to a social class where life insurance was something they knew about.

        Besides this family, I know one Mormon couple with 7 children who are doing just fine; the adults earn more than enough income to take care of the entire family. They're extremely well educated and financially conservative so I doubt there will be the slightest need for food stamps. Also, my mother had seven brothers and sisters. They were from an entrepreneurial family, and although times were tight occasionally there was a lot of stigma against asking for or accepting help from others, so they would never have dreamed of looking for any kind of social assistance. They all turned out just fine: nobody got sent to prison, and everyone is either employed, self employed, or independently wealthy.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • xeno

      Yeah, I believe in helping those in need, but you chose to have seven children. I chose to have what I could afford without having to rely on tax dollars. You give those truly in need a bad name, and my tax dollars are being spent on your selfish desires. Ironically, I bet you're a social conservative.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  36. Parent of 3

    Really? they consider this a challenge? try doing it with 3 growing children as well, then tell me you're challenged. we can make 30 bucks go a LONG way in this house for food.

    November 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  37. Leo

    "Let them eat cake," eh?

    November 1, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  38. Stefan

    I've lived off that much before when I was in school. It's not great, but it's liveable. Especially if you can augment it with a few extra meals a week off foodstamps – for a month or two I worked at a restaurant 3 days a week, that helped.

    I live in a pretty low-income neighbourhood. I made the mistake once of going to the local grocery store on the 1st of the month I saw dozens (felt like hundreds) of families there using food stamps. The problem was that they didn't know how to shop for themselves; every cart was full of frozen, extremely unhealthy food. More than half of the people I saw there were obese, really really obese, and their children looked to be well on that path as well.

    Here's a better idea than food stamps – tickets that get you X food. You get your monthly egg tickets, milk tickets, lettuce tickets, etc. If people have to eat on the taxpayer dime, then at least let's force responsible shopping. You can eat much healthier off of cheap staples than you can off of frozen feasts.

    November 1, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • There's a good idea...

      Force people to eat only what you believe is healthy. Never mind if they have allergies to certain foods, or have diet restrictions. As long as you approve of their food choices.

      These people cannot win with you guys. When they buy fresh fruits and vegetables, they get people complaining that THEY can't buy fresh fruit and vegetables and they aren't on food stamps. When they buy cheap generic boxed foods, the other half complains that they are buying only unhealthy things. If they buy any treats at all they are critisized.

      Apparently to you all, if you are in need and getting any type of assistance, you should be suffering all of the time.

      It's not up to you to judge what they are eating. If they are allotted food stamps, they need them. (None of this, of course, applies to those who are just abusing the system without really being in need.) They make the decisions on what they eat, not you. They aren't getting any more money depending on what they buy. $30 is $30, whether they buy eggs, bread and milk, or cake and ice cream, or gluten free frozen foods.

      And no, I am not on food stamps. I work a full time job that doesn't pay much, so I live off of $30 to $50 of food for two weeks, not one. I sometimes eat well and healthy, and sometimes eat ramen and frozen pizzas for two weeks straight because they are cheap. I pay for myself and pay into the system to support others who are more in need than I am. I do not appreciate when people look at me and judge what I am eating or buying, especially if I have saved to treat myself to something special. I don't appreciate people doing that to anyone else, either.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  39. anon

    I think we need to get off our lazy butts and start imitating the mexicans. They work their butts off, so why can't we?

    November 1, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • goldsmith

      "We?" Do you have a mouse in your pocket? Hello?

      November 1, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  40. M.

    I just received approval for food stamps. $31 a month, I do work part time but I don't even make enough from that to pay rent somewhere so I have to couch surf. It does provide relief for a week. I can't really complain, but I think the people in these experiments fail to realize that not everyone gets the maximum amount possible.

    November 1, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  41. Gadsden

    Living on food stamps probably makes people feel like they want to get a job so they can buy some more food. Food stamps are widely abused. I routinely see people at warehouse stores buy multiple carts full of highe end brand name food, then use their own cash to buy cigarettes, then drive off in new SUVs. This while I buy generics, don't smoke and drive an 11 year old Honda Accord. Oh well, I guess that's just the way it is when you actually work support yourself and your family.

    November 1, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Cindy

      Do me a favor, next time you see someone using Food
      Stamps at the warehouse stores to buy brand name foods, then buy cigarettes with cash and drive off in a new SUV, take a picture of it and post it. I hear the same nonsense all the time, but not one shred of evidence of it. The people that I know who are on food stamps barely scrape by to feed their children. I am positive there are people who abuse the stamps, just like there are people that abuse anything they get for free, but it's not the norm.

      November 1, 2011 at 9:04 am |
      • Amanda

        Everyone I know that is on food stamps, eats better than I do. They end up with extra money and go waste it on expensive food like steak and fish. I have a great job, but my husband and I are in a lot of debt because he is in school right now. I work 40+ hours a week but still shop at discount grocery stores and save wherever possible. We eat the off brand of everything while those on food stamps stock up on expensive brands. I'm not saying that everyone is like this, I am just agreeing with 'Gadsden'. There is ALOT of waste and abuse.

        November 1, 2011 at 9:54 am |
      • Hawk

        Agreed! I am disabled and my wife and I live on disability and food stamps, while she attends school full-time in order to hopefully get a job. It is *very rare* that we can buy a steak, hamburger, or name-brand food. We usually buy bulk food – pasta, eggs and bread figure heavily in our diet. We don't smoke or drink (my wife may have a glass of something once every few months). We have both worked hard our entire lives. I served in the U.S. Military for 8 years. My wife physically can't do the same work she used to, which is why she is in school – to learn skills she can use to get around her physical limitations.

        I hear about the abuse of food stamps all the time, but I rarely see evidence of it. Even when I worked as the Manager of a Convenience Store, I only knew of one customer who would come in and try to get change from food stamps to buy smokes (back before they had food stamp debit cards). When I figured out what she was doing, I refused to let her purchase small items anymore, just to get change. She was *not* happy with me – but that was one customer, out of many that I saw that came in to purchase small things that they needed – like milk.

        November 1, 2011 at 10:49 am |
      • Jason L.

        Do us a favor, Cindy. Get a job as a cashier at a place like walmart, that sells food as well as a wide variety of general merchandise. Then, I guarantee you will see the abuses first hand. You will also see a lot of people using their gubmint benefits who are not abusing them. I wouldn't say it was the MAJORITY of recipients that abuse the program, necessarily, but it doesn't have to be the MAJORITY to be the "norm." The abuses are not rare.

        You'll see people spending any cash they have after buying several hundred dollars worth of food on food stamps, on things like DVDs, beer, and cigarettes, or lingerie. You'll see people that want to speak to a manager because they can't buy energy drinks with their SNAP card. You'll see people who only buy junk food and candy with their cards, and will only buy candy that comes packaged with toys, so they can buy toys for their kids with their food stamps, and not have to spend cash on them, instead of buying nutritious foods for their children.

        I'm guessing that you question these things because you yourself are on food stamps, but don't abuse them? So maybe getting a job as a cashier would benefit you in more ways than one.

        My wife works as a dental assistant for the county health clinic. The payments there are on a sliding scale. Some people get to see a dentist for as little as $10.

        While camping at the lake last summer, she recognized one of the patients camped at a site nearby. These people clearly had lied about their income to have gotten in to see the dentist for $10. They had a high end camper, two expensive 4 wheel drive vehicles and a trailer with his and hers jet skis and jet skis for both kids, as well as an expensive power boat. We're talking like $200k in toys. My wife and I who both work for a living were there in our $1,000 used camper from the 1960's, and a van that cost us $5k used, and some foam noodles we bought at target for $2 each. Yet we pay 3X as much to see the dentist she works for, that's our copayment for the dental insurance we have.

        November 1, 2011 at 11:17 am |
      • ZZ


        Google "EBT Card Abuses + Los Angeles" There were numerous examples of people using their EBT cards at strip joints and casinos in the L.A. area. I have seen thousands of people on public assistance driving a newer / better car than I do.. with shiny new rims and a nice sound system, They get to park those new cars in the lot outside of the Section 8 housing they get. End welfare altogether... New program should be workfare. What incentive do people have to go out and earn a living if the gov will simply give it to them. If you want to receive any public assistance... #1 – you must prove U.S. citizenship (this includes healthcare) #2 You must submit to and pass regular drug screenings.. #3 You must use birthcontrol... no more rewarding irresponsible behavior #4 you must participate in training programs to learn the skills necessary to secure gainful employment (tradeschools, education SOMETHING!!) #5 if you dont like the new rules T.F.B !!!

        November 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
      • vivvo

        @cindy. i don't have to take a picture of it. i get my nose rubbed in it every single day when i see it. i work in a small business in a rented space inside a convenience store. instead of driving a mile down the road to a real grocery store (because they ARE driving and better vehicles than i can afford), they come to the convenience store. and buy piles of cr*p food, candy and sodas on the foodstamp cards. then buy their grape white owl cigars, cigarettes and lotto with cash. sometime pulled from wads of cash. then walk their nike shod feet back out to said vehicles and on their merry way. if you are not seeing at least some of this behaviour, your eyes are not open. i wish i was making this up. i am not.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
      • Thorne

        I hear you Cindy.. I call bull-crap too. I've worked in food banks my entire life and I've never seen this "SUV" phenomenon. Does abuse of any system occur? It sure does. If that is the case then let's talk about THAT factual abuse so it can be dealt with, not this made up "well Rush said it so it must be true" garbage.
        I mean these people can not WIN. If they use their food stamps to buy fresh vegetables, they're living too high on the hog on the tax payer's dime. If they are obese from eating packaged (cheaper) foods, then they are clearly getting too much to eat. This blame the victim mentality is just as disgusting and counter productive as the small fraction of people who abuse the system.
        How many of you are Christians? Cause man you need to ask yourself WWJD. It makes me sick.

        November 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
      • seraphim0

        Thorne: WWJD? Light the offenders on fire and send them to hell?

        November 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Jonie

      I'd like to know where this is, in Texas and several other states Costco, Sams, etc aren't allowed to take food stamps, so I question your discovery right there.

      Also don't judge someone unless you know the facts of the story. I am a full time student who lives in a small town, single mother to a daughter whos father refuses to work full time so there's no child support,but he is required to pay $200 a month to the state to cover my food stamps, so technically he is the one paying for my food stamps. I've tried to find jobs but it's impossible, however in 6 months I'll graduate with a degree and can take me and my daughter to a bigger city and actually make a living where I can support her.

      I have a newer (2003) SUV, that I bought before I got laid off and it's paid off thank you very much. I have nice clothes and purses, that were all bought when I was working. I've attempted to sell them but the money I'd make off them is barely anything. And wouldn't even cover one month worth of bills, so I decided to keep them. I pay all my other bills with my student loans.

      So I am one of those ladies that has a new car, nice clothes and nice things. And I bought it all while I was working. Food stamps are temporary for me. So before you judge make sure you know the facts!

      November 1, 2011 at 10:28 am |
      • Alice W

        Thank you for making this statement.. People make a lot of assumptions about what a poor family must look exactly like. It seems to be predicated on the idea that they've never had any money. THe whole point of the program is to support people to keep them from losing so much that they're less likely get back on their feet and participate more in the economy, which benefits all of us.

        November 1, 2011 at 10:51 am |
      • Jason L.

        Costco and Sam's clubs both accept food stamps. If you have been to one that doesn't, or maybe even in a state where they don't, it isn't because they can't, or won't. It is because they made mistakes processing transactions regarding food stamps or WIC, and had their permission to accept these things pulled by the government as punishment. No store that sells food is going to voluntarily not accept food stamps, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose by accepting them.

        For whatever reason, Costco didn't initially accept them, but has been doing so since Oct. of 2009.

        November 1, 2011 at 11:22 am |
      • mrsl

        In Massachusetts, stores like Costco and BJ's do accept EBT cards. I've seen the sign stating this. I've also seen the signs in bakeries.

        November 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
      • ZZ

        Jonie... I worked full time (often more than 40 hrs / wk) and went to school full time for 4 years to earn my degree. I took student loans to pay for tuition only. I received no assistance whatsoever and chose not to have any children until after I had completed my education and secured a job. I too, have been laid off more than once in the past 5 years and still received no assistance (Unemployement, Healthcare, Food Stamps, Section 8, child care credits, WIC NOTHING)... Somehow I still managed to scrape by. I dont own anything with LV, Gucci, Coach, or DG on it (and never will). You made the decision to have a child with a man who refuses to support that child. You made the decision, while you were working, to piss your $$$ away on BS like designer purses and shoes. You can eat those when you get hungry!!! Spew your sob story elsewhere lady... Im already knee deep in B.S. !!!

        November 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  42. Lynn Ann

    It is our duty as Christians to honor our elected officials. They should not have to live on 31.50 a week for food. That is a sin!

    November 1, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • mynameisflip


      November 1, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Mike

      Don't know whether to laugh or cry at this one. Did you bother even TRYING to read the article?

      November 1, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • DSM dude

      Our duty?! How about their duty to us?! They make plenty of money off of us so don't go off on your bible thumping expedition to defend any one of them!
      Had you bothered to read & comprehend the article you would see that only Democrats have volunteered for the effort. Where are the Republicans (tea baggers not included as they're completely inept to reality from the start!) in this?!?! Of course, too good for their own medicine.
      The only sin here is that you're too ignorant to see the reality.
      Christian indeed...

      November 1, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • xxsevensxx

      Relax, I'm pretty sure that's sarcasm. At least I hope it is.

      November 1, 2011 at 10:40 am |
      • Jason L.

        Yes, either that or it is the first time a christian rightwinger stood up for a politician.

        November 1, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Ally

      People, please don't feed the trolls.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Karen

      what ROCK did you come out from under?????? look around you. THEY need to honor the electorate and do this,
      solely, so that they have an understanding of what REAL life is.
      When I got a job in July2009, I thought it was for f/t. slowly my job disintegrated and i had to rely on umemployment and had to get Food Stamps when the gov't idiots messed up my benefits.
      It took TWO months of call EVERYDAY to get THAT cleared up. TWO MONTHS> I only got $131 in f/s
      When I finally got it cleared up I lost my unemployment all together and that was the only thing I got.
      jobs were HARD to come by. Memphis-if truth be known-is WAY more than 9%. the jobs aren't there.

      I agree with Occupy. get rid of all this greed and spread the "wealth".

      November 2, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  43. smokin in LA

    Jeff Sessions is a greedy, bitter old man. With all the money that Di ck Cheney and Halliburton stole from us, Jeff wants to go after good stamp recepients. Idiot.

    November 1, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  44. Kevin

    Ive seen a couple purchase food then get into a Cadillac Escalade. That annoyed me.

    What annoyed me even more was when I applied and was denied. I was a very poor full time student and had a full time job. My job closed down. I applied for aid and was denied saying that since I was a student I had to work part time to receive benefits. So.... when I was working and paying for my own food, i could've received benefits, but since was jobless I could not. $4.50 a day would've been fantastic at that time. As someone else stated it's supposed to be a supplement.

    November 1, 2011 at 4:29 am |
  45. sarah

    It sounds like they need to visit the hillbilly housewife's website. Though her meal planner is $45 a week. You are funny AJ, but welfare often isn't distributed if you have another source of income no matter how meager that might be. It depends on the state and most aren't friendly towards those that have a job, even if it is min wage with a family of 3.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Amanda

      Actually, in some states (mine included) you have to either be looking for a job (and prove it), or have a job so that statement is not entirely true.

      November 1, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  46. A J

    Again this article annoys me. Food stamps are supposed to be a supplement, not their entire food budget for the week. They are supposed to have to pay for something themselves. Yes, I am sorry people are in these situations but these kinds of articles provide misinformation.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Jonie

      Not true, in my case it is my only source of income for food, I'm a full time student and single mother.

      November 1, 2011 at 10:31 am |
      • Jason L.

        Actually, Jonie, it is true. Regardless of whether or not you rely only on food stamps, doesn't change the fact that they are intended to be a supplement.

        November 1, 2011 at 11:32 am |
      • Heather

        Maybe you should have been more responsible and went to school BEFORE having a kid. You can get birth control for free or almost free at places like Planned Parenthood, and condoms are a lot cheaper than the cost of raising a child. You brought your misfortune on yourself and should have to pay for it yourself.

        November 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Erica

      Yes Heather... let's put even more strain on the people that have a kid... because obviously that kid should be punished for circumstances that may have been beyond the mother's control.

      My daughter is a condom baby. I love her to pieces, but she was most definitely not planned and I was most definitely using a condom the night she got conceived. Birth control is NOT free, nor nearly as cheap as people make it out to be. Nor is it all that easy to come by, in certain areas.

      My son? he's a Birth Control baby. Admittedly, he got conceived during an iffy point. I had been on antibiotics not long before that point, so that may have been something to do with it. However! At the time both of my children were conceived AND born, both parents were full time workers in the US Air Force.

      We made enough to cover all bills, put money in savings, AND go out 1-2 times a month as a family. Now? Mom is disabled and gets 530 a month in retirement. Dad is overseas. I do not get any govt assistance, but I COULD if I wanted to. I have chosen not to, even if my budget gets very tight sometimes. I will, if it becomes necessary.

      And I will not be ashamed of it. My two kids were not mistakes, and I was responsible. I worked. He works. We 've both been trying to finish our degrees. I am TWO classes off, but can't finish while he's gone because there is no way I could do the homework with two kids while by myself. I just can't.

      And I'm not ashamed of that either.

      The judgement from those calling out those with kids is horrendous. You have NO idea how those kids were conceived, or when. Especially in these days... those families might have been FINE before two years ago. You have NO right to sneer at those with kids. At ALL!

      November 2, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  47. Jack Kieser

    This is a good start, but it needs to be taken farther... by law. Yes, I am suggesting that all elected government officials at all levels of government receive pay, benefits, and health care at the median level according to what ALL Americans receive. If the median American wage is 30k a year, that's what officials make. If the median health benefit is 0$ because so few Americans can afford health care, then they don't get it, either. And this should be mandatory, at all times, unlike this opt-in challenge.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • smokin in LA

      Well then lets go one step further. 48% of American households pay zero federal income tax. Lets have all Americans pay something into the system that way we all have some skin in the game. None of this BS of a single mother of three getting an income tax "refund" of 2,500.00 when she paid nothing into the system.

      November 1, 2011 at 7:56 am |
      • stompsfrogs

        The number you're supposed to parrot is 47%, not 48%. And did you know that if you count federal payroll taxes, investment taxes and excise taxes, the number of Americans who didn't pay taxes drops to about 10%? So you ought to change your slogan to "I am the 90%" if you care about being technically correct.
        Here's a source linky:

        November 1, 2011 at 10:45 am |
      • do-de-do-dat@froghumper

        he clearly sayZ "federal income tax" jamma stamma, not all dat other crap

        November 1, 2011 at 10:53 am |
      • Amunaka

        And 2/3 corporations paid no federal income taxes year after year ...part of that 47 % you're talking about are HINTS ( high income no taxes"

        IRS: Nearly 1,500 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009

        November 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
      • jane

        YEH, maybe these people on food stamps should put it into the federal taxes so they pay something right. I am being sarcastic, the poor don't pay federal taxes cause they don't have money to pay it. the Billionaires who don't pay taxes well they can afford it but don't do it. which is worse. That bottom percent has seen wages and income stagnate, whose fault is this, its sure not the working poor. and its a LIE pooe people have tv and stuff, my grandkids have no tv cause their mom can't afford the cable for it, and she works everyday and is not on gov aid. THIS IS THE Face of the working poor. Jane

        November 2, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Gadsden

      9% flat tax with no refundable tax credits sounds fair to me.

      November 1, 2011 at 8:45 am |
      • Mike

        Yes, and it will force the country into bankruptcy. Unless spending is cut drastically (which it should be), 9% won't cut it.

        November 1, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • crabby cakes

      This is a brilliant idea!! Thanks for sharing.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
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