September 25th, 2013
11:15 AM ET
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Editor's note: Ron Shaich is the founder and CEO of Panera Bread and president of the Panera Bread Foundation. He participated in a seven-day SNAP Challenge, living on a food and beverage budget of $4.50 a day, the average benefits available to a beneficiary of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program.

I thought I knew a thing or two about hunger. I've met thousands of people who struggle to feed themselves and their families, visited dozens of soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters and food banks, and worked closely with nonprofit organizations in trying to find new ways to end hunger.

I really thought I understood the scope of the problem.

But let me tell you something - I had no clue. My SNAP Challenge last week taught me that merely observing someone else's plight does not hold a candle to consciously altering your habits to better understand what it might be like to live someone else's life.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was formerly called the food stamp program. In the SNAP challenge, you live on a food and beverage budget of $4.50 a day, the average amount a recipient of food stamps gets in benefits.

I was hungry last week - laser-focused on how much food was left in the fridge and how many dollars were left in my wallet. I was scared about eating portions that were too big, and wasn't sure what to do if my food ran out. I canceled two scheduled dinners, knowing they were way beyond my budget. I couldn't even eat in Panera, my own restaurant.

Read - Panera CEO learns about hunger on his food stamp diet

Could you live on $30 a week?
The food stamp challenge: eating on $30 a week
Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America
Childhood malnutrition has long lasting effects

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Filed under: Human Rights • Hunger • SNAP

soundoff (616 Responses)
  1. G the Meat Manager

    The first week of every month, I work my tail off in my grocery store's meat department to cover the huge increase in business when the food stamps get downloaded to people's cards. I wouldn't have a problem with all of the increased business if it weren't for the scenes I witness every hour of those days. "Food Stampers", as we have come to call them, scooping arm loads of T-bone steaks, beef tenderloins, frozen cooked lobsters, and 20 lb boxes of king crab legs to toss in their shopping carts. All paid for, courtesy of yours truly. What bothers me even more is the ungrateful attitude they display towards me because they might have to wait a few minutes while I cut more steaks for them to grab. I'm producing the product for them as fast as I can and I'm buying it for them with the taxes I pay. The least they could do is show a little gratitude instead of the self entitled indignation they emit as an aura sorrow ding their every move.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Tom Joad

      Yes! I'm a "food stamper"! I get millions in food stamps each month, eat nothing but steak and lobster, ride around in a chauffeured Rolls Royce, sip Dom Perignon, and stamp on jars of Beluga caviar at every opportunity! Eat your hearts out Tea Scrotums!

      October 7, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Grant

        @Tom Joad-do you have nothing better to do than post anger & hate on here all day? Don't know how to have an intelligent conversation? Slow day @ work? Will be reporting you.

        October 7, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • Tom Joad

          MUAHAHAHAHA!!! And you go on our pooh lists too!

          October 7, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Tom Joad

          Plus, I ENJOY raising the hackles of you slobbering, grunting Tea Scrotum, GOP pigs! EAT THE RICH!!!

          October 7, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • Hey Grant -

          I happen to know Joad. He is unemployable and is sore since his wife left him for a guy who has an actual job. Now he sits in his mother's basement collecting SNAP and other forms of welfare, knowing fully well that he is not as good as the other kids in class.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Tom Joad

          That's right! I have a huge collection of pikes., pitchforks, and guillotines too!

          October 7, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  2. jay

    He couldn't even eat at his own restaurant on Food stamps...HAHAHA, wait is the Government suppose to wine and dine people on Food stamps? NO, its for survival ...yet you can buy REDBULL on food stamps...see anything wrong with that...hahhaha...this Government and world just doesn't get it...I guess REDBULL has the ability to help you survive when your dying of hunger...No, but when your sucking off the government need something to mix with vodka when you go out on fridays and party...hahhaha...

    October 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  3. Farley

    Been forced to eat like that for years and years and years... but I am working , as opposed to the illegal women who come here and stay home and have 40-5 babies whose food stamp allotment means UP TO 8 FMAILY MEMBERS INCLUDING AUNTS NAD UNCLES CAN ALSO GET FOODSTAMPS....THIS IS UNAMERICAN. THESE ARE THE ONES THE TEA PARTY WANTS TO GET OFF THE FOOD ROLES-THE ONES WHO USE OUR GOVERNMENT AND L=OUR USA FOR THEIR OWN CULTURE. THE VULTURES WHO PICK AND CHOOSE THE WELFARE ITEMS THEY WANT. I SURE DON'T SEE WHY these women get to stay home when our kids are thrust into daycare at day 1--to me this has always been war...they are wrong, and they are criminals by thinking they deserve to get these benefits because they don't have a job...but does it have to last 20 years and 20 aunts and uncles later after 5 kids and not working? NO. if the idea is to come to America to have a better life WITH A JOB is one thing...I think i ate on $1.30 when my son was in daycare. and i did not take benefits so there.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Mary

      YEp they come here and have milked this country dry.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Justin S.

      On the other hand dumb and selfish people who spend their time resenting the comforts available to others are a little wearisome too.

      October 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Jingle Bell

      What is truly worrying is how little the "legal" citizens know about the laws of this country....heck, they probably do not even know what the word PROPAGANDA means.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Burnt Out Troll Patrol

    My only question is when are people going to stop, think & learn to recognize a troll when they read one?

    October 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  5. Tom Joad

    I totally give up trying to reason with the tea scrotums who post on here! I just want you to know I am sitting down to STEAK and LOBSTER, purchased with my ten-thousand dollar a month food stamp allotment! The hors d'ouevres were delicious, as was the foie gras! And I'm going to wash it all down with Dom Perignon!

    October 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Pontoon

      I'm sorry you are so angry and medical help

      October 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        Yes, tea scrotum! I AM insane! And in my spare time, I build guillotines!

        October 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
      • Jingle Bell

        It is suffering from trollsiritis. There is no cure for it. Best to avoid contact with one has this affliction.

        October 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  6. Brian

    I have newfound respect for Panera bread. Too bad the CEO of Chik-fil-A can't have the same compassion.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • MrDore2u

      I agree.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • kacklelackle

      If he wore black-face for a week would you think he now knew what it was like to be black? This man still knows nothing about being poor and hungry. Loved his shock at having to cancel two dinners? He's so lucky that he survived a whole week in such terrible conditions.

      October 6, 2013 at 3:31 am |
      • Justin S.

        Compassion and empathy are human responses that must be nurtured.

        Try it some time.

        October 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • electricguy

      The CEO of Chick-Fil-A has religious problems with gay marriage, but the poor appear to be well within his radar screen.

      Over the past three years, Chick-fil-A, Inc. and its franchised Restaurant Operators have given more than $68 million in contributions to over 700 educational and charitable organizations and have provided millions of dollars in food donations all across America. Take a look below to see the impact of our giving, how we give, and how giving has always been a part of our company culture.

      October 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • 99.94% Sane

        You might want to look at the makeup of those charities. Most are hate-based and very restrictive as to who gets the assistance.

        October 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • Jingle Bell

          Thank God I am a vegetarian, I do not have to even think about eating at Chic fil a..!!!

          October 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  7. don

    If people only knew how much food is thrown away by major grocery chains, they would revolt. The Publix I work at throws more perfectly ediable food away, to rot in a landfill, making for an almost criminal act of waste. If we as a species do not change our methods of production and distribution, there will only be a dismal future ahead. Rapacious is our lust for wealth, that we do not see beyond its consequence.

    October 5, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  8. j

    gotta love these people pretending they care about the blight of others when you know full well they will go right back to their riches as soon as their "project" is over and wont help anyone else out of a jam

    October 5, 2013 at 8:10 am |
  9. Kweenn

    I have been on AFDC and SNAP for years, and do you not dare judge me. In this day, there are plent6 of "educated" women on welfare. And do I treat my family from time to time? Yes, as we deserve it. It was not my family who crashed this economy, but I aka you, just who is gonna fix it?

    October 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • TiredofPatheticExcuses

      Kweenn, YOU ought to be ashamed of yourself to get on here bragging about the years you have refused to take personal responsibility! These programs are here to help people through their situation, IT SHOULD NOT BECOME YOUR LIFESTYLE KWEENN!!! Don't you want better for your life? Don't you want to be an example to your children? I have needed assistance in my life, but I knew it was TEMPORARY. Thus, I had to go back to school in order to get a better paying job, 3 kids in college (being an example for your children), teaching personal responsibility, and giving back to the system by paying my taxes. I am liberal, but I do not believe in laziness and milking the system for all you can get KWEEN!! I am a taxpayer and you KWEEN are a prime example of why people don't want their tax dollars going to the Professional Loaf! Get off you lazy behind and find a job or get educated but KWEEN you need to stop with that Ghetto Welfare Mentality! This is coming from an African American Democratic Woman. We have to stop catering to laziness and entitlement. I am all for helping all human beings, but KWEEN you need to help yourself at this point. You ought to be ASHAMED!!!!

      October 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Jingle Bell

      If you are able bodied, there should be not excuse for you to be on SNAP or any other govt. assistance for YEARS!!! Tells me you like your lifestyle and being lazy and on your rear end waiting for handouts and blaming the govt for everything. People who WANT to work CAN find jobs.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        But there are millions who want to work, but can't fjnd jobs!

        October 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  10. Phaerisee

    It's all a matter of perspective, I guess. $4.50 can buy a couple weeks worth of of pasta. Assuming you have a pot, water, and a way to boil it.

    October 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • anxiousoldman

      Where do you buy your pasta?

      October 6, 2013 at 7:23 am |
      • electricguy

        At any grocery store, a dollar a pound. Brown rice and beans are even cheaper. Eggs are $2 per dozen. A basic diet can be prepared for under$2 per day, leaving $2.50 for "goodies" like fruit and vegetables. Not much room for meat, but 1/4 pound a day is within reason. Lots of protein from the beens and even the rice, so it's not a particular worry, but not something most of us have to deal with. If you were truly living on SNAP alone for food, you'll rapidly become vegan.

        $4.50 a day is a liveable food budget. It's boring, but this guy shouldn't have gone hungry even once. As CEO, he should understand the importance of planning. His budget was not well spent.

        October 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          That's right! You ingrates could live on grass, weeds, and gravel!

          October 7, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • 99.94% Sane

          I understand that you can SURVIVE on that diet, but it isn't as healthy as you think. All the starches would result in a very fast weight gain.

          October 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • Jingle Bell

          Electric, I am a vegetarian and this is how I eat. I spend $100 per month on my food bill. And I am not "hungry" or starving.

          October 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  11. OneOfManyExArmyGuys

    I hear a lot of harshness on the food stamp/ WIC on this thread. Coming out of the Army and trying to go to school and raise a family, it was... well I don't have words for it. Could I have made due? Your durn right. Did it get me over a bad patch? Your durn right. I was in a position for about a year, where it was a fact of life. My pride was injured, but my family was fed. Could my family sit on a couch and subsist on it without working? No. I was working full time and going to school full time (and not letting anyone know I was taking food stamps).

    I haven't been in that position since then, but I know how it feels. It was degrading, embarrassing and uncomfortable, but I'll be honest when I got home I was just happy that there was food on the table. For those of you who disparage the programs like this, you may want to walk in Ron's trial shoes for a bit. For those of you who feel the programs aren't enough, you could be right and you should applaud Ron for raising awareness, which I'm sure was the point.

    October 4, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • anxiousoldman

      I remember finding a box of oranges, in a dumpster, at a produce wholesale warhouse. Half were moldey and half were fine. I sat on the loading dock and cried. Yesterday I took my parents out to dinner and spent $400. Sometimes all we need is a helping hand. $4.50? I spend that on a coffee! Your strength shows in your words.

      October 6, 2013 at 7:30 am |
      • Tom Joad

        I know a maintainance guy who dumpster dives. And what's really sick is seeing elderly people having to rummage through dumpsters! One percenters, your time is coming!

        October 7, 2013 at 10:25 am |
      • Jingle Bell

        You spent $400 on one dinner?????? Are you serious??

        October 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  12. Jim

    Another idiot CEO. You're not SUPPOSED to be able to eat your "own restaurant" with food stamps, you politically correct dim bulb ('course...he is richer than me). Food Stamps are a SUPPLEMENT to what money you already have or should, in some cases, be earning. It's not MEANT to let you eat lobster, crab legs (as a co-worker of my wife's does with her food stamps) or eat in restaurants. Big deal!

    October 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • brett

      I don't even like lobster. I just want to eat my porterhouses off the government's dime.

      October 4, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  13. Aileen C

    I am a single mom of two. I have a BS in Business and am unable to find work. Blame can be place anywhere. I have recently accepted a position paying $1 more than minimum wage in hopes that it is easier to find work when you are already working. Trying to survive on Food Stamps is difficult if you want to eat healthy. Ramen noodles are $.35 – .50 a pack and you'll pay a $1 or more for a single piece of fresh fruit. Eating healthy is not affordable. I am pretty healthy and have a healthy BMI and I exercise regularly because I do not have a car. What many do not realize is that junk foods are cheaper than healthier foods and when you have a lot of mouths or even a few mouths you are more concerned with filling it than how healthy it is.

    October 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Tom Joad

      You are not alone Aileen. This country now has the best educated janitors, fast food workers, taxi drivers, and call center reps on the planet!

      October 5, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • highlander

      I went to 99 cents store the other day (not dollar tree, this one is in Nevada and California) and was surprised to see their $1 fruits and veggies selection, including brand names like dole. Even dollar tree has frozen veggies for $1.
      I usually buy only organic, but out of curiosity I bought peppers and brussel sprouts and they were pretty good!

      October 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  14. cnnreader

    The Food Stamp program should be run like the WIC program. There are only certain foods that can be vouchered because they are nutritional – milk, beans, 100% juices, fresh fruit and veg.

    I am sure the WIC program can be cheated but it seems more guided than the Food Stamp program.

    October 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Tom Joad

      There ought to be a law prohibiting the wealthy one-percenters from eating anything other than hog slop, dog droppings, and grass!

      October 5, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • jerry9997

        These 1% ers and most middle class taxpayers are paying for the 124 different welfare programs that Congress has enacted. We are tired of paying for Food Stamps so people can eat steak and lobster. They just apply for Food Stamps under several different names so they have one bag of money to buy drugs, one to buy booze and another for food. Hand out boxes of food every week, not a monthly credit card that can be traded to merchants for money to by drugs. From 2001 to 2012 the number of people of food stamps increased from 17 million to 47 million and most of that is fraud.

        October 5, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • Tom Joad

          99.9% of food stamp recipients use the cards legally. And why should poor and working class people care a rat's behind over what you rich, freeloading one percenters want? You are the ultimate welfare cheats! And you will go to the guillotines by the cattle truck-full!

          October 5, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • Pontoon

          The percentage is higher than that, walk through any WalMart and you'll find someone offering you to buy their Bridge card!

          October 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          You are insane!

          October 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
        • Pontoon

          oh sorry, must be I was imagining it when it happens

          October 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          You saw what your blinders of ignorance allowed you to see!

          October 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • Pontoon

          my hearing must have been off when they asked me if I wanted to buy their card..........

          October 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          More likely your hearing aid!

          October 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Oink, oink, oink!

          October 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  15. Trudi Long

    You think that is poor 73 year old father in law has worked his entire life and applied at the age of 72 for food stamps because he cannot live on social security alone...he gets a whopping....get ready for it......53 CENTS a day....yes, that's right....$16 per MONTH.

    They should be ashamed and just keep that amount!!!

    October 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Tom Joad

      One day, We the People will feed the rich long, sharp, bayonets!

      October 5, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • MKK

        I think you're living in the wrong century. Nutcase.

        October 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          I think you like tar and chicken feathers, Tea Scrotum!

          October 7, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  16. Bob

    The Sky is Falling. The Sky is falling. What a bunch of BS.

    October 4, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • mirageseekr

      While the article states the owner had a hard time feeding himself on this amount I noticed he didn't say that they were going to take some of the money from shareholders and CEO's to pay their employees better, no the government should give more because those CEO'S and shareholders believe they are the only ones entitled to make any money.

      October 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • jerry9997

      Tell these people to stop having 10 kids each and they could afford more food.

      October 5, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • Tom Joad

        Mind your own business, and maybe the mobs will be lenient, and not guillotine you!

        October 5, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  17. Char

    I get tired of seeing this "food stamp challenge" nonsense parroted. The food stamp benefit for people without an income is higher than 4.50/day. That is what people get who have other income. Yes, you can work and still get foodstamps. Obama would like to see everyone not making 100,000/year getting every government benefit there is so they become loyal democrat voters.

    October 4, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • Aileen C

      I'd like to see you find a job for everyone so they can make $100,000 per year. This country was and is built off the backs of poor people. We take the jobs no one else will, work long hours that no one else will, miss out on family time because we need the job no one else will take, and make pennies compared to the profits the companies we are working for are bringing in. Yet you can say Obama wants everyone to stay poor. No he wants us all to have an equal playing field in education, health care, and basic human needs. Is everyone not entitled to this. I guess we are not all created equal.

      October 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        The attitudes I see expressed here concerning the poor are eerily similar to the attitudes of the nobility of bourbon France in 1789. I wonder how the bourgeoisie like their guillotine blades?A little rusty? Or garlic-coated?

        October 5, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Janet

      WRONG! The food stamp assistance for a person with no income is NOT $4.50 a day. My son is 40, disabled, and with no income and they provided him with $27. a MONTH to eat on. Could you make it on that??

      October 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  18. susan

    I hate it when I read someone write that the average amount of food stamps is $4.50 a day. I don't know which states give $4.50 a day in food stamps but I only get $2.30 a day.

    October 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • rich

      I'm able to write the following exactly because I have empathy and because I'm charitable.

      Susan: How do you afford internet access if you're on the maximum food stamp allowance?

      Are you at the library?

      October 4, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • jerry9997

        She probably buys her internet access with the government's free smartphone program. Free phones to keep the drug sales businesses going.

        October 5, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Tom Joad

          Lying Pig! There is no free smartphone program! Are you a paid GOP troll?

          October 5, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • In all fairness

      Yet many of the "poor" people chiming in have both an advanced computing device and Internet access allowing them to post. It's funny how priorities are cast into light..

      SNAP is broken because it is too easy to defraud. If you think the system is being used fairly by 99.9% of its users, you're flat out of your mind!

      October 6, 2013 at 7:51 am |
      • Tom Joad

        Ever hear of the public library? Oh nooo! You are too ignorant to have ever stepped foot inside a library! The only qualification for SNAP is that you have $2000 or less in liquidateable assets. Therefore, lots of poor may own a tv set, an old laptop, and an old car, and still qualify. For every one that does, there are now 2 more who are borderline. So, watch your mouth! If and when these people get riled enough to come for you, they will not be warm n fluffy!

        October 7, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Hey Joad

          Take your threats of violence and shove them high and hard. You and your class baiting are worthless, so please find a way to self injure as soon as possible.

          October 7, 2013 at 10:43 am |
        • Tom Joad

          How do you like your Arctic icebergs? Covered with Polar Bear scat? Or Penguin pooh? You sure don't belong in the US!

          October 7, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  19. susan

    I don't know what state gets $4.50 a day in food stamps but "mine" come to only $2.30 a day.

    October 3, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • jc flores

      And yet you still have a computer and the internet and are posting in the middle of a business day. Interesting,...

      October 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Will

        Oh shut your mouth. Guess what? People still need internet to apply for jobs. Also, people can still have computers from prior times when they had money, also computers aren't that expensive anymore. In closing, shut your fat mouth.

        October 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Plus, the fat, slobbering imbecile is too ignorant to know that most public libraries offer computer access nowadays!

          October 5, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • pdxtran

          Food stamps cannot be used for anything that isn't edible, but even poor people need things like soap and toilet paper. It's possible that the person who was trying to sell their card to you had run out of toilet paper or dish soap. Most Americans make closer to $25,000 than to $250,000 a year (the median income is a little over $50,000), so when you hate the poor, you're hating people that you could end up joining if you lose your job or become disabled.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  20. Brandon

    I live on a $150 food budget every month because I'm saving for a house; it's honestly pretty easy. The biggest issue is that fresh fruit and vegetables are a too expensive, so I can't really eat as much of them as I'd like

    But hunger isn't an issue unless your wasting a lot of your budget on stupid stuff. II actually eat too many calories.

    You can even eat some fast food assuming your smart about using dollar menu stuff.

    So yeah, I'm not seeing a problem here.

    October 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • no name

      $150 for yourself? You are truly ignorant if so! That ia a cake walk compared to that amount being given to a family!

      October 3, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  21. Yakman2 must not have an Aldi's around you.....they are cheap and awesome....

    October 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  22. Tom Joad

    You idiots need to cease attacking the poor. They have no power. Instead, you should attack the 'welfare cheats' sitting in the Congress!

    October 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • jerry9997

      The welfare cheaters are right out in public. The SF NBC channel did a video piece of welfare folks getting their cards the same day each month and they went to small merchants downtown and traded them 50 cents/dollar for money, then took the money across the street and bought drugs. They have enough money because they get food stamps under several names. When Jerry Brown required fingerprints for new welfare and food stamp recipients three years ago the number of new people applying dropped 85%. As a true Democrat he has now rescinded that requirement and its business as usual in welfare land.

      October 5, 2013 at 10:59 am |
      • Tom Joad

        So who are the more numerous welfare cheats? The handful you heard about on tv? Or the 30 million rich pigs that feed off the wealth the other 270 million produce???

        October 5, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • Tom Joad

        Probably to prevent illegals from applying!

        October 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  23. Diane

    The comments on here about those who receive food stamps is very controversial, to say the least. I believe those who have never been poor or struggling do not understand those who have to go on food stamps. Although my family has never been on food stamps, I do personally know many people who have been. They are given such a low amount of food stamps for the number of people in their family that they are running out of food within two weeks. I have a neighbor with 8 people in her household and her husband has been out of a job for almost a year. They are given only $400 something a month of food stamps, due to her taking in two young adults to provide them a home and is getting $200 a month in rent from each which goes to pay her utilities/rent. They are not making it on even this amount with shopping carefully. The problem that people do not stop to understand is that grocery stores are terribly expensive and cost of food is extremely high. Cost of a gallon milk is $4 something and that is just for one gallon of milk which might not even last most families a whole week. My family spends $300 a month for a family of four on groceries. If we did not have the base commissary (my husband is a military retiree) we would have to spend double this at a regular grocery store to buy the food we need. We make meal plans and buy absolute necessities – no luxury food items at all – no ice cream, pies, cakes, cookies, mixes, frozen pizza's, etc. We buy meats, produce, dairy, canned goods and bottled goods. The cost of living is so extremely high and the wages are not going up every year to meet the cost of living. My husband and I have to watch everything we spend because the cost of everything is expensive. We dont go to movies, or other recreational places, we limit our eating out to once per payday, and we pack our lunches for work. I cant even imagine how people do it making far less than we do because to pay for everything you need to have in life, it takes a big monthly salary. People making it on minimum wage or who are out of work have a super hard time trying to meet the needs of their family or themselves. Unless you have gone without health insurance, adequate food, needed transportation, etc do not criticize those who need the extra help of food stamps. One day you might be in that same situation and wishing you were being given enough help to meet all of your needs. I know too many people who are out of work or who work full time and make only minimum wage and are not making it.

    October 3, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Anonymous

      I get what you are saying. But I will say that years ago, when I worked in a grocery store as a cashier, there were very specific rules about what you can and cannot buy with food stamps, such as soda, junk food, ice cream, etc. I cannot tell you how many mothers dragging toddlers behind them tried to purchase nothing BUT junk food with their food stamps.

      I know there are a lot of responsible people out there who need food stamps and are responsible with them. Just understand that there are just as many people who get them who are not.

      October 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  24. TNmom

    I am a single mom of two growing boys. I work a full time job, pay rent, utilities, childcare, and have not gotten a single penny from their dad in almost a year and a half (longer than that, if you consider the time we were still married. He was a selfish being). I receive a bit of assistance with the SNAP program. I am thankful for the little bit that I do get. I have never bought lobster or steak. I like to see how far I can stretch it and still feed my boys decently. Mind you, it's not always the healthiest, but it fills the bellies. Because I am on a single income, I can't afford many luxuries, so it is nice when I can treat my boys to ice cream at the end of the week for the great week they had in school. Not everyone that gets SNAP abuses it. My need for SNAP is not forever, it's just for now.

    October 3, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Bonnie

      Excellent post TNmom. I was a stay at home mom in rural GA which means not alot of money there either. Good moms get creative to feed their children and still pay bills on time. The fact that this man couldn't eat at his own restaurant tells me he doesn't get it. He doesn't get that nutritional assistance is not for high end meals at nice restaurants. It's for nutritional necessities, not luxuries.

      October 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Jason

      Best of luck to you, TNmom, and thanks for not abusing the program.

      October 4, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • betty h

      Well said , and yes hang in there
      Good going gal keep it up !

      October 5, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Jingle Bell

      TNmom, I applaud you for realizing that SNAP is for people like you who need some help temporarily until you can do better for yourself. the greatest skills you can teach your kids is that of self responsibility and self worth. Teach them life skills – how to cook, clean, budget their pocket money, and importance of education. Wish you all the best!!

      October 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  25. Steve Harvey

    "The best way to help poor people is to not become one."

    October 3, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Lark

      And that means what? People don't by and large choose to be poor. Platitudes are all well and good , but they don't do squat for people who are suffering – especially children who have no control over family finances. Instead of judging, how about going down to your local foodbank, rolling up your sleeves and pitching in. They could use the help and you might learn a little about the people who don't want to be poor and hungry, but are anyway.

      October 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • Jason

        I humbly disagree. The choices a person makes in life most certainly have an effect on if they are poor or not. If I choose to have more children than I can take care of, drop out of school, make ill-advised purchases and fill my time with self satisfaction instead of self discipline, I am also most likely making the choice to be poor. Not only that, but the example I am setting also makes the same choices that much easier for my children. It is known as generational poverty and it is the basis of our problems in inner cities and poor rural areas. SNAP and other entitlement programs encourage these behaviors without providing a legitimate path out of poverty.

        October 4, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • Sandi

          I have to agree that some choices that are made, can lead to poverty. However, what about the married person, who had children in a loving relationship, and well that relationship ends, and a person walks out. Thus leaving a single parent. This is what happened to me, and it was good choice for my children. I work full time, and went to school full time to better myself and my families situation. With this being said, we did receive SNAP for a while, and well sometimes things are not in a person's control, sometimes it is what it is.

          October 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        The best way to end poverty is to end artificial scarcity. That means abolishing Capitalism, and replacing it with a system that provides both economic and political democracy.

        October 4, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • RC

          Wow. What system would that be? Sounds a lot like communism.

          October 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  26. Betsi

    Panera's have been good to my community. Any leftover bread is donated to the Salvation Army or other food banks. Good for you Ron Shaich!

    October 3, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  27. Jsmith

    Food stampers get PLENTY of food. They get food stamps, which allow know nothing, do nothing jobless zombies to eat lobster and steak. Then there are voluntary food banks, funded by both financial and food donations. There are no-waste food organizations that collect unused food to distribute to churches and other organizations to feed the homeless. Its a falsehood to say people are starving in this country. Absurd to say the least.

    October 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Tom Joad

      Where on Earth did you get that idea???

      October 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • JaeCole

      I have to say that if you are not working you get a lot more than you need. I know people who get about 600 for a 4 person family and sell 300 each month to pay bills. The system is flawed very much so.

      October 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        You are a liar. nobody gets that much!

        October 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Star

          Fact: People get different amounts depending on how many live in their household. Fact: Some people receive $1,000 or more in Michigan per month

          October 4, 2013 at 8:26 am |
        • Jessica

          Wow I think you have been mis informed. I live in SouthWest Gerorgia and a lady that works with me has a full time job a new house, new car and she gets $800.00 food stamps and a check from the government (she has 4 kids). She walks around bragging everyday. So no we are nor "liars" you are probably listening to the Democrats version of SNAP.

          October 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          YOU are misinformed! You are probably referring to her monthly cash stipend PLUS food stamps!

          October 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Sandi

          Oh Tom, you are so mislead. There are plenty in the state I live in that get that much and more. For a family of three, making less than $1800 a month, they get $564 a month.

          October 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • MAJLich

      You need to reach in your pocket and get a clue! You are in an alternate universe if you think they get plenty of food. I was on them before while doing my ROTC. I'ts BARELY...BARLEY enough to get by. Obviously you were never on them; that is you shouyld have nothing to say.

      October 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
      • Bonnie

        I raised my children in the south with a mol who taught me how to feed an army on very little. I probably fed my family of 5 on less than $4.50 a day. It's really not that difficult. Buy bulk meats, poultry, and pork and separate portions and freeze them. Bags of dried peas and beans don't cost squat and they go a long long way. Off brand canned goods aren't any less nutritional than high dollar brand names. Make french fries from part of a sack of taters. I always made sure there was rice, sugar, flour, potatoes, eggs and cornmeal in the house. Bake your own confections instead of buying them. Peanut butter on a pancake with some banana slices on top made my kids jump for joy as a snack. Homemade potato soup with some leftover pork tossed in is awesome. I mean it's really not that hard. You just have to get creative.

        October 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
        • The Contentious Otter

          That's certainly possible if you're a stay at home mom, but most single-mothers have to work two jobs and rely on public transportation. Try doing what you claim while working 20 hours a week at McDonald's, plus another 30 hours a week covering the cash register in a convenience store, and while having to rely on bumming rides or using public transportation because you can't afford to own a car.

          October 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Hillbilly hog slop makes you fat as a pig!

          October 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
        • RC@joad

          Well, whatever you've been eating made you stupid. I can always lose weight. You on the other hand, will always be stupid.

          October 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Jack

      They are collecting from food banks as well as from the government. So true...

      October 4, 2013 at 12:38 am |
      • Pontoon

        Jack, you are correct! When asked a food stamp participant why they were going to the food bank when they didn't need to they always state "because it's free" Also found people who throw out the FREE food they didn't like, ie: it wasn't premade or in a box

        October 4, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  28. ModernMiner

    FIx SNAP now. Replace free food with free seeds, free composting equipment, and free gardening advice. Make people grow their own food – it will be healthier, cheaper, and folks will be much less likely to abuse the program.

    September 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • concernedmissionary

      As a missionary, most of the people I know get food stamps. They are either drug addicts or alcoholics and they sell the stamps to support their habits, or are single mothers who also sell most of the stamps and still eat well off the stamps designated for themselves and their children. The children are eating breakfast and lunch at school. When they get out of school, they eat Ramen noodles and run from ministry to ministry like the homeless to get fed. This story does not represent families who receive multiple benefits for mother and children. Those benefits are usually in excess when combined. The program is not monitored as it should be. The kids I work with tell me the mothers buy cases of crab legs, steaks, etc. This is wrong. Why not have an aisle set up in the grocery store offering basic healthy staple foods available for food stamp exchange ... and no more? Surely, this restriction would motivate the recipients to work so they could buy the things they want. As I grieve today regarding the government shutdown, I know it is wrong that those who have been paid for serving (working) are now not getting paid while lazy people still get benefits (not entitlements).

      October 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Phillip Steiner

        As a wrestler, i went without food for over a decade. You learn to appreciate food, and learn you can go without for extended periods. You also learn what foods are good for you, and what foods to avoid. It was a life altering experience. As a doctor and family man, I try to spread the gospel of proper nutrition and diet to all that will listen to me.

        October 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          You are no "doctor". You are, however, a very disturbed person, in bad need of psychiatric care!

          October 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • RC@TOAD

          And you are an ass. WTF is your problem? If you've got nothing constructive to add to the conversation, then just go away-quietly.

          October 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
      • Catherine

        Interesting take from a 'missionary'. You really need another line of work. If the kids you work with are telling you that their moms are buying crab legs, etc. and they are still running from soup kitchen to soup kitchen for food, why are you not involving DCFS? If their mothers are not feeding them, don't you think it is your moral duty to report it. Sure there are abuses. There are abuses in the farm subsidies to large farm corporations and free handouts to Congress as well. But not everyone abuses the system. Seek abuses and eliminate them and leave the people just trying to be by alone.

        October 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • AleeD®

          There are LOTS of other's besides missionary ... oh, my bad. Wrong subject.

          October 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        You are no "missionairie" You are, however, a raving mad imbecile!

        October 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • Dr. Phil@ tom joke

          Has anyone ever told you tha you need professional help?

          October 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Atmc

      Not a bad plan in climate with year round growing season but you still can't "grow" poultry, beef ,pork and a pot of beans to feed a family!

      October 1, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • TNmom

      That would be great, if apartment complexes allowed it...

      October 3, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • Pontoon

        Many communities have public gardens now where you are plant and maintain a plot for FREE

        October 4, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Tom Joad

          Next to politicians, the next biggest group of welfare cheats are the US military! I am all for forcing them to grow/raise their own food (like they used to do anyway, up until about 1941)! It would also cure the obesity problem in the military!

          October 4, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Tom Joad

      Where??? Your front yard???

      October 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jessica

      How would you grow if you don't own land? Its not like you can sustain a family of 5 living in an apartment. I bet there are plenty of SNAP recipients that do not own a home or have a yard to grow their own food.

      October 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Todd

      Do you plan to give them free farms, too? Or do you think their landlord will be pleased about them converting a room in their apartment into a garden?

      October 4, 2013 at 3:49 am |
      • RC

        Did that once years ago. Boy did the electric bill go up!

        October 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Hollee572

      Most poor people don't own any land. Where would they grow their own food at?

      October 8, 2013 at 6:22 am |
      • Grammar Police

        After the "at."

        October 8, 2013 at 6:45 am |
  29. RedTX

    I must say after reading some of these comments, ignorance must truly be bliss. It's sad that a NATION/COUNTRY as "GREAT" as the USA rears so many selfish citizens/politicians etc. If we stopped paying the 'greedy' politicians six figures a year, I wonder if they'd survive without such a lush food allowance.

    September 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • WWJD

      @RedTX – I am with you... it is amazing how many heartless, uncompassionate people people there are in this "Christian" nation!

      I can really understand why Jesus would say to them "Get away from Me – I never knew you!" when they come before Him. I can bet anything that these heartless people are "family values" Republicans who claim to stand for God and country. If we were a Christian nation we would bend over backward to serve the poor because Jesus said "whatever you do for the least of these, My brethren, you do unto Me". And scriptures tell us that God will just the nations by how they treat the poor...

      October 3, 2013 at 6:58 am |
      • Jack

        The Bible says that those who won't work shouldn't eat.

        Obviously in conflict with the democratic party.

        October 4, 2013 at 12:36 am |
        • Karen

          If you actually read the bible.... it's clear you don't by your complete missuse of this verse.

          Many people receiving aid DO work... Should they not be fed?

          October 4, 2013 at 10:43 am |
        • Tom Joad

          That's exactly right! The rich don't work! Neither should the be allowed to eat!

          October 4, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • dhall148

          Jack, I hope that what you said about the bible, work and eating is old testament. ecause it's hard to work at a paying job when they don't exist!!!

          October 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • dhall148

          Jack, I hope that what you said about the bible, work and eating is old testament. ecause it's hard to work at a paying job when they don't exist!!!
          Guess what, I looked it up just now, & it New testament. Let's see now, we are supposed to either work or not eat. Yet, when we do look for work & don't find any, then it's our fault for not working. Bull***t. Pure bull.

          October 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • Welfare Culture blowback

          you are wrong Karen and he is right. It is EXACTLY what it says. There is not call for the working class to support and idle class in the bible. Absolute democratic political manipulating lies to claim there is a call to do so.

          October 16, 2013 at 12:01 am |
      • Welfare Culture blowback

        democrat political manipulation. There is NO call in the bible to bend over backwards for any other man. In addition, this is NOT a theocracy. Your democrat political manipulation of that fact should be glaringly alarming to anyone who appreciates the freedom from oppression that a separated society that does not force someone else's idea of religion on you should decry this silly low attempt at wealth redistribution to the lazy blood sucking democrats who make up the majority of the votes for that party.

        October 16, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Doug

      Who cares, politicians are bottom feeders. They'll get a long just fine.

      October 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  30. anthrogirl

    Jen is right. Cheap food is unhealthy.

    September 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  31. Joey

    Snap benefits were never intended to feed a whole family/person for a whole month. It is called supplemental for a reason, the government is provided a certain amount to go toward food, it is up to the person to provide the rest of their meal money. People are still expected to work and provide their own way. The govt is just trying to help supplement their income to help pay for food, not pay for all the food.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  32. Curlee

    Panera doesn't serve ramen noodles? Who knew?

    September 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  33. Michael

    So, why do I see so many fat people using food stamps?

    September 29, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • Jen

      Because calorie dense, high carbohydrate, high fat, nutritionally deficient foods are cheaper than healthy foods.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:52 am |
      • Jim

        lettuce and tomatos are still pretty cheap..

        September 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
        • Stargazer

          EXAMPLE: Tonight, young lady at gas station has two Mountain Dews, one Payday candy bar. Pulls out her Bridge Card and says "oh, wrong one" reaches back in her wallet and pulls out another Bridge card to pay for junk food. TWO Bridge Cards in her wallet. Don't complain about not being able to pay healthy food, it's all a choice!

          September 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Greg

      First you need to understand that obesity is not always associated with overeating. Obesity is also character of many medical issues.
      I remember when my Mother was in her late thirties and was on a diet that only allowed her to eat a small meal twice a day. I remember she was so hungry and miserable, but she was willing to undergo the pain in order to control her weight. All the rest of us in the Family out ate her by at least three times and none of us were ever obese. I remember watching my Mother gain 23 lbs. on this diet. It was crazy! Don't even THINK you understand what is happening when you see an overweight person. There are way too many things that can cause that.

      September 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
      • Jingle Bell

        Yes, there are people like your Mom and myself included who gain weight even when eating less than others and being more active than others. Unfortunately, we are the exception and not as common as what is seen today. I eat right, I am a vegetarian, I am on my feet all day for more than 12 hours and moving constantly, but my hormones and genes make me hold on to my weight and now age too. None of my siblings who eat more than I do and anything they want and are less active never gain weight. these days people eat a lot more packaged and junk food, are constantly eating, and do not even know what a correct portion size is, and are very sedentary. This lifestyle is driving obesity and it's related illness such as diabetes in this country.

        October 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Tom Joad

      The same reason you see so many fat people using cash, or credit cards!

      October 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • RC

        What else would they use? Most places don't take beads and shells any more. Sheesh....
        You're really not very good at this.

        October 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • dhall148

      Because they are not thin. Think they got that way after they started on food stamps? Probably not. Too much picking on them because they are overweight. The weight thing comes from their minds, not from food stamps.

      October 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        Why do I see so many fat, slobbering rich people?

        October 8, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • Welfare Culture blowback

          democrats created a horror of expectation that people who neither discipline themselves to get an education or job skills and MOST who don't work reproduce and believe whole heartedly their choices are someone else's responsibility.

          Democrats and republicans represent ONLY the rich. This problem, without democrat wealth redistribution would have affected a small percent of people rather than vast swaths of foolishness who are even too lazy to go to the polls and vote for them but mail it in instead.

          IF there was the expectation of responsibility – as it is for the rest of the 98% of the population – suffering would convince the youth of these cultures to make other choices. Instead, largess simply entrenched stupidity.

          October 16, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  34. somewhere

    Why not offer lower prices in the grocery store for SNAP food buyers? Or have all applicable manufacturers coupons automatically applied to SNAP food buyers purchases?
    Since most of the food growers in America receive "social welfare" from the government, and SNAP benefits aren't enough to feed people,why not end the corp. welfare and make sure actual people can eat?? We are talking about food. Required for living. In most states only households with dependent children, disabled persons, or low income seniors are eligible to receive benefits.

    September 29, 2013 at 4:10 am |
    • soxfaninatl

      That's actually a good idea (having lower prices for SNAP recipients) but have you ever notices coupons rarely are for staples (except cereal). They are usually for new products or exotic products. After reading the article it makes me wonder if Ron is or was opposed to raising minimum wage. I understand the arguments for and against raising minimum wage, but I still feel it's ultimately a battle over whether millionaires will make 10 million a year vs 5 million a year or a battle of lazy people vs people with little in the way of skills.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:01 am |
      • soxfaninatl


        September 29, 2013 at 8:01 am |
      • anthrogirl

        I have a friend who was a lawyer for 20 years doing mostly asbestos type litigation. He recently lost his job because that type of legal expertise is not needed as much anymore. He felt pigeon holed and even though he's a highly educated lawyer, he must retrain. Imagine someone without his savings account. They don't have the money or time to train or retrain, holding down 2 jobs just to make rent. It's tough out there. Food stamps aren't a hand out. They are a hand up. And the majority of recipients are families with kids and the elderly. Under GW, food stamps were also extended to people hit by natural disasters, like Katrina. When cut food stamps, we are directly hurting our fellow Americans who need us the most, kids, elderly and the devastated. Everyone should take the $4.25 per day challenge.

        September 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        What makes you think lazy millionaires have any skills?

        October 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • edward

      LOL & ROF I try so hard to use coupons to leverage the purchasing power of my snap account and then the state kicks me in the teeth by making me pay sales tax on the money I save. My benefits was cut off for two months with no explanation – I had complied with the reporting requirements and was eligible and when reinstated they were reduced by 38% so I now receive significantly less than $4.50 a day and everyone's benefit is going to be reduced in November. When my snap benefit was suspended I had to give up taking my hypertension medications to eat. I am in my 60s but not old enough to go on social security suffer for congestive heart failure but not sick enough to go on disability – homeless and sleep in a an old pickup truck – it might be time to stop voting Republican.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:27 am |
      • Pinewalker

        how are you online if you are homeless and living in a truck? if you truly are senior and in this much need there are many resources out there to help you. The Salvation Army has Senior programs and housing available in some areas. Here is their link:

        and here is another good Senior Assistance Resource finder:

        Some people don't consider themselves "Seniors" because they aren't 70 or 80 but most organizations for assistance consider anything over 55 a senior.

        September 30, 2013 at 10:05 am |
        • Tom Joad

          Ever heard of the public library?

          October 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • tessie mae

        Do you really think anyone believes you are a senior citizen? You betray yourself with your last sentence.

        October 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
      • Jack

        edward, you were NEVER a Republican and if you got kicked off food stamps in the last five years MAN UP and blame Obama.

        October 4, 2013 at 12:20 am |
      • Hollee572

        You can apply for Social Security based on your medical condition regardless of your age. Of course, you might want to apply online since they are short staffed due to the government shutdown. If you live in or move to a state that accepted the Medicaid expansion, at no income, you would qualify for Medicaid to help with your medical condition and medicines as of January 1st.

        October 8, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • Pinewalker

      Someone recently told me that SNAP at farmer's markets in NY are worth double get $2 of product and only charged $1. That sounds like a good plan. SNAp also needs to mimic WIC and have specific approved lobster, no candy, no chips, no soda, Just basics....meats, cheeses, certain dairies, fruits, vegetables, etc. This would help provide families guidance to healthy eating. EVERY week I am in line at the grocery store behind people making bad purchases with their SNAP card....candy bars, soda, etc. It really is too bad because it spells two problems....#1 its not healthy but #2 if they are spending their SNAP money on frivelties than they are most likely ahving their main meals covered by other monies and if that other monies is enough to cover their basic nees than they shouldn't be receiving the SNAP funds so there are more funds available for those who are using SNAP for their main nutritional needs.

      September 30, 2013 at 8:57 am |
      • Michigander

        At the Farmer's Markets in Michigan also. I totally agree the program needs to restrict what foods are purchased . I see too much being spent on pop, chips, frozen meals. The dollars could be spent wiser, go further and eat healthier.

        September 30, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • Michigander

          In Michigan some participants buy cart loads of pop, empty in the parking lot then return the cans for the deposit money and in turn buy cigarettes and alcohol.

          September 30, 2013 at 9:56 am |
        • RC

          I see the same thing with EBT all the time. People at 7/11 buying a super big gulp and candy bars.

          October 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Hmmm... I wonder if they were homeless??? Duhhhhhhhhh!

          October 5, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Pontoon

          they aren't homeless! they chose to spend their money that way!! you really need to get out into the world!

          October 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          And how do you know, you arrogant ignoramous?

          October 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • Pontoon

          you have issues......

          October 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Which polar ice cap do you wish to be deported to?

          October 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
      • Humanist

        Saying we should restrict what people can buy angers me on this topic. So, because I'm poor I should not be able to have a candy bar? That's dumb. You may have been behind someone getting one, but for all you know, that may have been the first candy bar they've had in a week. What they buy should not be up for scrutiny. I realize taxpayer money is used to help everything, but until we equally and critically examine all the freebie crap the richest taxpayer-paid people get and all the taxpayer money spent for their purposes, we should not jump in so negatively on the most poor. I mean, we would all rather rise up against people who don't even make 4.50 a day than people who are mega rich because of all our money and living better than most of us will live in our entire lifetimes? That is something I will never understand.

        October 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
        • Anna

          I have seen a women buy a stack of candy bars for herself and her kids. That was their weekend meals. It is a small town, so it is no secret she is on SNAP. While I do believe she is a minority of people who receive food stamps, it sets a bad image for everybody else. If junk food was restricted or banned it would remove one more things critics use against the program.

          It is like the drug testing of welfare recipients- they didn't find high drug usage, and actually spent more than they saved kicking people off the program, but it went a long way to shutting people down who wanted to get rid of the whole program because they don't want to support drug addicts.

          October 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • Jack

          You shouldn't be allowed sugary junk food; it's not nutritious. If you crave it then getting off foodstamps will be your incentive. Have you seen how obese many people become AFTER they get foodstamps? The medical bills we are stuck with are staggering.

          Oh... and no fast food with ebt cards either. California needs to be stopped from letting them be used to take cash out of ATM's also.

          October 4, 2013 at 12:23 am |
        • Tom Joad

          Have you seen how fat, drunk, and stupid rich people are?

          October 4, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Nothing to see here...@Joad

          Have you ever seen how fat, drunk and stupid you are?...

          There, I fixed it for you.

          October 8, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • Shamus

        #1 you buy waht you are able too, you wanna know what would really help, lower prices on healthy food. Why is it like 10 bucks for the nutritional foods but only 2 or 3 bucks for a pint of ice cream 12 pack of soday famliy bag of chips. stamps are designed to be used on the stuff big companies sell not the the other way around it may be a helping hand but that hand leads you directly to the unhealthy food. everything that is microwaveable is cheap and everything that is healthy is high, its just that simple

        October 3, 2013 at 1:05 am |
      • Tom Joad

        The food police need to scrutinize your grocery shopping more carefully!

        October 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • Hollee572

        Part of the problem is that the companies making the unhealthy foods have lobbyists. Good luck with that, though. It's a good idea.

        October 8, 2013 at 6:31 am |
  35. HenryMiller

    "I couldn't even eat in Panera, my own restaurant."

    So maybe this CEO should lower his prices.

    September 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Carl Bright

      Excellent observation.....

      September 29, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Jingle Bell

      I second that!!!

      October 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  36. Josie

    Mr. Shaich, I am a public school teacher and I disagree that no one wants free food. Some of the parents of my students send in applications for free school lunch. They lie on the forms and state that they are unemployed, when I know they are not. If some people can get something for free, even if they have to lie about it, some people will. When we say things such as "no one wants to be poor" , etc. we need to realize that some people want to be least on paper and in some circumstances, so that they can qualify for free stuff. That's the way some are, and we are stupid if we don't realize it.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Tom Joad

      You are despicable!

      October 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
      • Jingle Bell

        Josie speaks the truth. Nothing despicable about it. Despicable are the parents who teach their kids to lie to get "free" food.

        October 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Hollee572

      Yes, there are bound to be frauds in every government program. What is needed are comprehensive measures to reduce fraud in each of the programs.

      October 8, 2013 at 6:35 am |
  37. Ray

    The anchor's question sounds just like something you would hear from a upper class american in society making 6 figures for looking into a camera all day. No one wants to be dependant on stamps. You must show proof that you are looking for work to even get them. If the programs is being abused.that's because government is turning a blind eye just like with immigration. The fact is..most people I know of personally have applied for at least partial assistance because th cost of living keeps rising year afted year, yet wages don't budge. People are left trying to choose between gas, insurance, or food.

    September 28, 2013 at 7:33 am |
  38. New Yorker

    I have read the comments here and past comments on a similar article and I am amazed at the ignorance. No one wants to be poor, no one wants to be in a situation where they have to go hungry so their child can eat. In a world where we produce so much food, no one should be hungry. I am willing to bet that many of you throw more food out in a week than some people eat in a month.

    September 28, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • soxfaninatl

      That is true but there are many who don't want to apply themselves either especially if Uncle Sam is willing to pick up the tab. I teach and I can't tell how many students I have these days who think they should get an "A" just for attending class. If class work goes beyond typing a word into a search engine and pressing enter they complain about how hard class is.
      It is funny how people treat tax dollars, if they're being taxed they, they are outraged, but if they are accepting federal money i.e. taxes they are all like "I deserve this, I'm owed this."

      September 29, 2013 at 8:09 am |
      • Greg

        I think it's important to recognize how many good credible, hard working or willing to work hard folks we are criticizing with that kind of mantra that stereotypes all people collecting assistance. What the real mantra and objective is in this is to make the case that we should no longer support SNAP and those who get it.
        Anyone ever put forth any efforts to research and find out how many SNAP participants are temporary one time, and never return to it? It doesn't fit the preferred objective and point in the mantra, right? So many millions of good people will be hurt if we eliminated SNAP bennies, right? I truly believe most negative commenters here don't care one bit and actually wouldn't care if millions of desperate people died. THAT I believe is what America si TODAY!

        September 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
        • Hollee572

          15% of Americans currently live in poverty. Poverty is defined as less than $11,490 per year for one person. It goes up by $4000 per year per additional person. 21% of children live in poverty. 13% of adults between 18 and 64 live in poverty. So, roughly 46.5 million Americans live in poverty. Out of those living in poverty, roughly 24 million receive benefits from one of the three food assistance programs(including SNAP and WIC). 6.2 million people access food banks and soup kitchens each year.

          October 8, 2013 at 6:42 am |
        • The Truth of the Matter

          Greg, Thank you!! I was that one time recipient of food stamps and Section 8 housing after my x filed for divorce. Two years on the program and I was moving up. Without this assistance I'm not sure where my life would have ended up. With it, I moved on in 2 years and haven't stopped climbing. That was in 1999. If my career stays on it's current projection I'll make 6 figures in 2014. I've more than paid back what I took out of the program. Not only myself, but I've raised 2 tax paying children to boot...

          No one wants to talk about people like myself, you're right – it doesn't fit their preconceive notions of who benefits from these programs.

          October 8, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  39. Danielle

    Although I know the point he is trying to prove is noble, this whole thing REALLY pisses me off. He is talking about how insecure and obsessed he felt with food because he was limited to $4.50/day for a mere 7 days.

    I live on a food budget of $2.50/day. Do I have to plan what I buy in order to make it through the month...of course. Can I afford to eat at places like Panera Bread...not unless I am able to skimp on 5 or 6 other meals.

    I am a teacher, and although I don't get paid enough for the amount of work I do...I consider myself pretty damn lucky to have a salary-paying job. I don't complain about my budget, because I know there are people making it work off minimum wage with babies to take care of. People make $7.25 an hour and still manage to pay their rent, car payments, insurance, utilities, and you think they have $4.50 per day left over for food??!?

    $4.50 a day is a luxury, not a sacrifice. Freakin ridiculous.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • Glenna Kachtik

      So, you fault him for trying to understand the problem? You are pissed because he realizes the problem? WHAT??? Maybe if our Congress Critters – all of them – had to take the SNAP test, they might be a bit more understanding. $4.50 is average for SNAP – the fact that you subsist on $2.50 @ day for food suggests that YOU, yourself might be eligible for SNAP. Instead of getting angry at this guy – who was just trying to understand – maybe you should save some of that righteous anger for the REAL assholes – like Ryan & Cruz & the idiots in Congress who are trying to cut SNAP.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Bs

      If you're only eating on 2.50 a day how could you ever afford Internet or for that matter a device that connects to the Internet. Your post is complete bs just like this article!

      September 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
      • really

        Dear Bs: some of us have internet access at work and do not waste money on access from home. I am writing this from my office right now on my own time. I lived on $20/week for 8 months in 1994 as an exchange undergraduate student and it was very hard. I had very little and made sure I got good grades and didn't pop out a kid or something else stupid. I had no TV or computer at home, didn't drink or smoke and had no health insurance. It can be done but it is hard. Now I have a good job because I was disciplined and always worked towrds my goal. Again, it can be done but is very hard.

        September 28, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • PlutoIsn'tAPlanet

          $20 a week in 1994 is luxurious compared to about $32 a week in 2013, considering the price increases due to issues such as sky high gas prices, etc

          October 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
      • Carl Bright

        Maybe you should be WORKING rather than posting over the companies infrastructure.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
        • Bob

          Dear troll, maybe you should mind your own business.

          October 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        Ever hear of the public library? Ever been in a library? Duhhhhhhhhh!!!

        October 4, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Tom Joad

      People who make minimum wage qualify for at least partial food stamps.

      October 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • Tray

        Tis true! Minimum wage = partial SNAP.

        October 17, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  40. Christine

    This interviewer is out of touch. Period. Her questions are ridiculous!

    September 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  41. moonmaid50

    For those of you who think that SNAP is too much or that people are lazy and not cooking right try the challenge yourself in today's world. I had to do so a prolonged illness and 2 of my grandchildren coming to live with me. I received 540 in SNAP and 301 in cash benefits. Now keep in mind SNAP does not allow you to buy cleaning supplies, toilet paper, garbage bags, shampoo, soap, hot deli foods (no rotisserie chicken). Most of the time my SNAP ran out before the month was over. the 301 was for utilities and the things SNAP would not buy. Try telling 2 small boys that no you cannot get them a Happy Meal. They don't understand. Tell them that dish washing liquid is all they can take a bath and wash their hair with because the soap and shampoo ran out last week. Try shopping at dollar store where the products are package smaller and often more expensive than Walmart because you can't get a ride to Walmart and the dollar store is within walking distance. Food pantries are wonderful but don't offer fresh fruit or vegetables, mainly starchy foods that make the hunger go away but don't make for healthy bodies. That is if I could get a ride or if I had a way to get the food home. I often had to leave food because it was to heavy to carry on the city bus that would drop us off a mile from home.
    Now that I'm back working I don't mind my taxes going to SNAP.I met many wonderful people in my position and not one of them wanted to be on assistance. Believe me it was the most humbling thing ever to happen. Too many times I sat in the DHHR office with others like me who could not work but needed help for a time until the situation changed. I can remember waiting in those offices for 5-6 hours at a time trying to get help, not being able to catch the bus because it was too late and walking back with the friends I made there. Many us remain friends and most are no longer on assistance.
    Keep in mind that there was no other source of income & I relied heavily on SNAP. There was no supplement to it, this was all I had to feed us. I was always a few meals away from no food at all before the month was over and I knew how to stretch food, how to cook healthy meals but most of the time could not afford it.

    September 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • NickFL

      I'm a life-long liberal; never voted Republican, but even I am getting fed up of how some people feel entitled to ride off the sweat of others. I will always be in favor of giving a percentage of my earnings as taxes that go towards the overall good of society, infrastructure, and helping others in their moment of need. But I don't want to pay more taxes than I do now. And I don't want to pay for others to live luxuriously if they don't work. Why should I be working to pay for your grand kids to get a happy meal? Where are their parents? Neither parent cares enough to work and buy a happy meal for their child? Wow! Neither parent can help you with transportation? Unless both parents died, I really don't feel sympathetic toward your situation. [Understand that I'm saying this from a systemic point of view. Of course, I would love to buy a happy meal for some kids and give them happiness, but I'm saying that you can't expect the system to support this.] People need to take responsibility for themselves, and families need to look out for each other, before living off the rest of society. I have had the good fortune to continue working and supporting myself to this point in life. I will do that until I absolutely can't anymore. If I do have the misfortune to need assistance, I will appreciate what I get, and I won't expect to be able to live at the same level as people who are working and supporting themselves and contributing taxes. It's commonsense - you can't keep squeezing the middle - if there are too many people trying to take from a dwindling pool of contributors, eventually the whole system will collapse.

      September 28, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Shalmiel Lipsstikstien

      easy, don't have kids unless you know for certain you will be able to provide for them.

      October 3, 2013 at 4:23 am |
      • Sandi

        And how do you propose this happen? Many can take care of their children, when they are born. But then become a single parent for one reason or another. There are NO guarantees.

        October 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Jingle Bell

          On the contrary, more kids are born to young women who are barely out of high school, have no education, and no steady job prospects. The father if they are around are in the same boat. Few ever rise out of poverty once it's set in motion by having babies with nothing to fall back on. This has been shown statistically to be true.

          October 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Jingle Bell

      Where are the parents of your grandchildren? Unless, they have met an untimely demise, then they are the ones to be held responsible for your grand kids happy meals, and everything else that your grandchildren need. The govt. cannot be held responsible for that,. The govt also cannot be held responsible for the fact that they may be alive, on drugs, no education to their name and no job to their name, or quite simply they are dead beat parents. You also bear responsibility if you did not set them on the path of education before making babies that they cannot take care of. Of course this is assuming they are alive and living in their own world, or do not have cancer or some other illness not induced by their lifestyle choices. While I commend you for looking after your grandkids, the govt. and my tax dollars cannot be held responsible for making their lives better. Perhaps, this time around, it is a good thing that they do not get "happy meals". Teaching these kids the value of hard work, the value of money, the value of good health through good nutrition, and most of all the value of education and not making babies before they are able to financially support one, and saving money for that rainy day are the values that need to be instilled from the get go, and perhaps they have a fighting chance of surviving though self reliance and self responsibility. I wish you all the best, glad that you are able to work again.

      October 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  42. Barbara KE

    Kudos to the President of Panera who tried this. At least he's thinking about it. But I hate to point out that I work full time (nurse) and can't afford to eat in his restaurant very often. Last time I was there, I had french onion soup (cup) and my son had soup in a bread bowl. We bought one dessert to share and we both drank coffee. It was over fifteen dollars!!

    September 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  43. Ashley

    Yes, it is hard to take $4.50 to a store and buy/prepare 3 meals. But SNAP gives you the full amount for the month and you can spend it how you want at the store. I know some people do get a measly amount and it is difficult, but I had a completley different experience with SNAP and my family of 6. We averaged $4.50 per person, and we NEVER used the full amount each month. We were unemployed for about 2 years, and used SNAP during the 2nd year. When my husband got a job this past February, our SNAP benefits ended in March. At that time our SNAP card had a balance of almost $3000 because we never used the entire amount given to us and the remaining balance would carry over into the next month. We ate VERY well that year we were on SNAP. We always had tons of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, snacks, cereals, dairy, and yes, even some treats. Before our benefits ended, we made LOTS of trips to the store and used our large balance to stock up our pantry and freezer with flour, sugar, oatmeal, canned fruits and veggies, meats, crackers, cheese, cereal, dried fruit, spices and herbs, beans, etc. Anything that could be stored on a shelf or in the freezer. 6months later, my family is STILL eating that food. We do buy milk and fresh fruit/veggies and other perishables, but most of our meals use ingredients that we bought with our $4.50 per day/ per person allottment. I know people who have used their food stams to buy Omaha Steaks because it is allowed and they had a balance that was carrying over each month (this was a family who also had 6 people and also was unemployed.) Things like Omaha Steaks and being able to eat out at Panera and other restaurants is a LUXURY, NOT A NECESSITY. And should not be allowed for food stamp users (I don't know if you can eat at fast food places with a SNAP card, I never tried and never wanted to.) So what if the CEO can't afford to eat at his own restaurant on a food stamp balance??? It is a WANT, not a NEED. I was extremely grateful for the help that my family recieved from the food stamp program, and am extremely grateful that we no longer need it and are once again paying taxes that pay for programs like this that help people when they need it (however, I do think the program needs to be stricter about who can recieve benefits, and for how long, and require people to very actively try to find a job, or provide help/resorces for job finding/training. Too many people abuse the program when they are fully capable of working and providing for themselves.)

    September 27, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  44. MRitz

    When I was a kid, my parents would say,'Finish your food, there's children in other countries starving".
    Now it's the children next door who are starving. I earn a decent salary and can only afford to eat out a couple of times a year. Preparing meals at home is the cheapest and most nutritional way to go.
    I give Ron Shaich alot of credit for shedding light on this problem. SNAP is a joke in today's economy.

    September 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  45. jodie euritt

    My friend is disabled and can no longer work at a regular job. She would like to. She receives $550 a month on social security disablility and $24.00 a month in food stamps, meant to "supplement" her income. Her rent costs $200, and that is in HUD housing. Her utilities average $180 a month, she has no cable or cell phone and I figure her utilities based on a yearly average that includes assistance for gas in the winter. She doesn't have a car to drive but budgets $35 a month for transportation because the transportation assisstance to provided by medicaid often doesn't show up and she has to take a cab to her doctor's appointments. Her medicaid co-payments are around $50. There is no money for emergencies. In total she has $85 a month left for food, cleaning supplies and misc expenses. So $85 plus $25 in food stamps equals $110 a month for food. If she doesn't need to do laundry or by cleaning supplies. She is a type I diabetic, her condition is genetic and not a result of overeating. Actually, she is not overwieght. She has $3.30 a day for food. Home cook all you want...which she does... that's not much. Most of the food she gets from food pantries is not something she can use because of her diabetes. People who are poor's not always their fault...and you and I are not better than them because we have more.

    September 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Jen

      Jodi, your friend should qualify for a cell phone from the LifeLine program. Her's a link to a google search for the different companies that participate:
      And for those of you that claim these are 'Obama Phones', this program started BEFORE he was even elected!
      She will get a basic phone and a monthly allotment of minutes.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Tom Joad

      Amen to that!

      October 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
      • Partisan

        Sorry, but she sounds lazy. She could work if she wanted to.

        October 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jingle Bell

      So sorry to hear about your friend. This is a perfect example or doing everything one can to improve their lives for the future by doing everything at a younger age such as...getting an education that leads to a 4 year degree in something that one can get a job at the end of it, or training in a skills such as plumbing, electrician, etc. where you make a decent enough income to save, and staring a career by age 21-22 and therefore having the ability to put more into savings, etc. These days people do not even know what they are doing with their lives even in their 30s. They are so caught up in their social lives and the Kardashians who are getting rich off them, then when they hit 40 and their health goes downhill for what ever reason, they have nothing to fall back on, and they get minimal disability and social security benefits to live on.

      October 10, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • KEVIN

      I call shenanigans on that post!

      October 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  46. ohioan

    I work full time, as does my husband. We cook from scratch quite often, even if it means spending my Sunday cooking a few things ahead for busy nights. I just did the math and for my family we spend about $2.60/day/person. And this includes packed lunches for the kids and extra snacks for my teenage athletes. We don't buy soda anymore except a rare treat. We buy produce in-season because it's less expensive. For treats, I try to keep chocolate chips in the pantry at all times and can whip up a batch of bar cookies on Sunday that will last most of the week. I don't think more food stamps are needed, I think many people just were never taught how to cook, or how to shop.

    September 26, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • ohioan

      I do have to add, I grew up in a large family and learned how to cook as a child. Both my husband and I took a foods and nutrition class in high school.

      September 26, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • hailmary

        The more people you feed, the cheaper it is. I once fed 100 teenagers dinner 1 night a week at my church. I could give them a healthfull meal for $1.25 each. When I was feeding 50 kids it was more expensive.

        September 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • crisathome

          we are currently receiving 430. a month in snap benefits to feed our family of 5 and with two growing boys, it is such an insane challenge to make it to the next month that i can hardly stand it. we never eat out, we cook as much as possible and we buy bread at the discount bread store yet we still have serious problems making ends meet until the next month. Thank goodness that the Salvation Army also offers a Harvest Share program that provides us some fresh vegetables once a month to supplement our food budget. the vegetables are free but often, are spoiled so i have to throw them away. I use as much as i can, freeze or otherwise preserve what i can and luckily I own a deep freezer from when i did have a job. every month is a huge struggle, we have to try and come up with money to buy stuff that we could not afford to get when we did our food stamp shopping for the month. do not get me wrong, i am thankful for any help we can get but we are in no way living in the lap of luxury. we eat too many carbs because carbs are cheapest and we do not eat enough fruits and vegetables because we simply cannot afford them. I challenge anyone else to feed a family of 5 on 430. in a month and see how difficult it is for them.

          September 28, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • aim

        ohloan, I'm assuming you live near a grocery store? Many people on assistance have no access to a grocery store but instead are within walking distance to a 7 Eleven or gas station. They might be working their 3rd job on Sunday when you have the ability to stay home and cook with your loved ones all day. Just 2 sticks of butter to whip up your cookie treats may be 1/2 a days allowance on SNAP. When you have been knocked down over and over again it is very difficult to get back up. Please do not assume that people who need help are lazy slugs who sit around chatting it up on their expensive phones while we pay their bills.

        September 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • moonmaid50

        I assume you could pay your utility bills too. SNAP doesn't do that. Nor does it pay you to take a day off work when the minimum wage was 5.75/hr to cook. Or cover the cost of a baby sitter to watch your children. Time and money are a luxury that many working poor do not have. I know I was there. It's not fun and it's not easy. It's demeaning, humbling and at time hopeless and thankless.

        September 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Michigander

      I totally agree that the main problem is people don't know or are too lazy to cook! I too was raised with a mom that cooked everything from scratch, even canning and freezing fruit & vegetables. I feel they should not be allowed to buy junk food & pop with food stamps and be required to take nutrition and cooking classes. This problem has to be addressed at the root of the problem before it can ever get better.

      September 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • somewhere

        Its nice to know that you think poor people are the root of the problem. They're too dumb or "lazy" to cook. I'm sorry but how much do you spend a week on groceries? I think we ALL have noticed that our totals have increased at least 25% over the last few years. Milk is almost $4/gal, butter is $4, bread is at least $3, cheese is $6/lb, a box of cereal is $4, and a jar of peanut butter in $4. That's a weeks worth of food. That's it. THINK before you pretend like its still 1960 and you can feed a family of four a meal for a few bucks. This isn't your moms generation anymore.

        September 29, 2013 at 3:58 am |
      • Tom Joad

        Then you have no objections to your own shopping and eating habits being policed by social services??? Why are you any 'better' than anybody else???

        October 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • Jack

          Tom, because he pays his own bills. That's why.

          Considering we are getting stuck with the medical bills arising from the poor eating habits of millions of welfare cases it is certainly within our prerogative to restrict what people can buy with the tax money we provide.

          October 4, 2013 at 12:27 am |
        • Tom Joad

          The only 'perogative' that rich freeloaders should have is whether the guillotine blade that awaits them is rust-covered, or garlic-dipped!

          October 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
      • The Truth of the Matter

        Education works but are we going to fight over who foots the bill for those classes?

        Sometimes life just knocks you down. I've been of food stamps and lived in Section 8 housing when my x left me with 2 small children. It was humbling beyond words. I was working full time at just over the minimum wage. I wasn't able to pull off college full time, but I was able to get some courses under my belt that allowed me to move up quickly.

        While I was living in Section 8 I soon realized there were people who knew no other way of life. One young lady had never seen a checkbook. I took to teaching 3 other moms in my building how to put together a household budget, plan meals and shop deals to stretch it all.

        When I moved out (and UP) 2 years later I kept in touch with these women. One now manages the bakery in a local grocery, one is a teller at a bank and the other got her GED and is now in college. That was in 1999 – they all started the new millennium with a better future ahead of them.

        As long as we collectively look at those on government assisted programs as something "less" than ourselves we will continue to have problems. To make a real change for others and not just whine about it – WE ALL have to get involved. WE ALL have to get our hands dirty to see change happen.

        October 8, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • Jingle Bell

          Wow! You really made a difference in these ladies lives by showing them that they CAN do better, by just learning a few tools and a few courses. It just shows that those who are willing to learn and empower themselves can do better for themselves. Kudos to you for taking the bull by the horns approach with your life too! You are my hero!!

          October 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
      • Josey

        Really? Unemployed people, are not lazy, they do not have a job. Not the same thing. Cooking from scratch is not cheap. I have always cooked from scratch, canned, dried and froze vegitables, fruits, and meats. The last few years the prices on basics such as milk, flour, sugar, eggs, vegitables, etc. have increased faster than anything else in price. the cost of electric and gas have also. this year alone fresh peaches were selling for $32.00 a bushel. And twc was telling how all the rain was ruining the peach crops because the peaches were just full of water.. That was stupid. Water is just what peaches need most to be big, and juicy peaches. Our gardens produced tons over last years. So why the huge price? It is cheaper to buy them canned than fresh. You all are lucky to be in your jobs, Don't take them for granted. It could be you tomorrow, next week, next month that is unemployed.

        October 13, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • S Fabian

      one cannot look at the blanket statements of' it's cheaper to cook at home but most people are lazy' without also adding in that one must have a well-stocked pantry (of even the basics) to always draw on to really stretch a dollar.... and alot of poor people I know cannot afford to keep the pantry stocked, myself included. I stock it once a year when I receive my income tax refund....

      September 27, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Josie

      I agree with you. Some people don't know how to cook and how to shop. Maybe that is what is needed. If classes were required, along with receiving food assistance, it would provide jobs to food nutritionists as well as educate food stamp recipients in wise buying/cooking strategies.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  47. Thinking things through

    Yes, yes, I know, he isn't *really* experiencing hunger because he can stop this any time he chooses to do so. But I do give him kudos for doing this, and recognizing that even inexpensive eateries don't provide $4.50 a day's worth of nutritious food. As for the other respondent here to date, for some folks this money goes to serve most of their food, so it isn't just supplement... Rent and transit to jobs may take most of whatever they're getting monetarily, otherwise. Depending on the cost of living wherever they are living. (And yes, I know there are far too many people who abuse the system, but for others it has really been a livesaver while they got their feet back on the ground again.)

    In Panera's favor, I have to be happy they give back to the communities they build stores in (I don't know if it is universal, but in my locale this one certainly does). My most local one brings day-old bread to food pantries, and has participated in several community outreach efforts related to hospice care.

    September 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  48. Supplement not replace

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, is intended to do exactly what it says, to supplement someone's existing food budget and allow them to consume more nutritious, but possibly more expensive, foods. To suggest that it fulfill someone's complete food budget is misleading.

    September 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Aileen C

      I am a single mother of two and making $1 more than minimum wage. I have a BS in Business Management. It is very hard to supplement something that is non existent or so seriously low that it is negligible. For many people including myself my food stamps is my food budget. The other monies I receive from income have to pay the rent and cover my transportation costs so I can get to work to pay the rent. I walk and take the bus and only rent a car one weekend a month. Some of you have no idea how people are truly living.

      October 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Dmitry

        Why can't you get a better job. I know, when I finished grad school they were trying to pay me funny money. By funny money I mean the number that is to funny to mention. That did not workout to well for them. But why are working for 1 over min wage, why can't you get a normal job ?

        October 9, 2013 at 9:40 am |
        • timelord7202

          Because it's not 1970 anymore and more jobs are being offshored, automated, using illegals, or otherwise artificially inflating the labor pool which in turn drives down wages.

          I thought people had noticed what was going on long before now? How else do we get a few more billionaires along with a billion more paupers?

          October 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Josey

          Well, since jobs are in short supply and there are 7 applicants to each job, it could be because, she hasn't been able to get a different job. I have 2 degrees, and I have had a few temporary jobs, for vacation and medical leaves. Not many job openings here. If there are no openings, there are no jobs to even apply for.

          October 13, 2013 at 12:31 am |
        • kamakiriad

          Dimitri, you have a disconnect from reality. I know so many good people WITH degrees making $15 an hour or less. College gets your foot in the door, but it doesn't mean you get paid well like it used to.

          Asking anyone under 35 "Why don't you JUST get a better job?" simply means you have no idea how hard that has been since 2005 when most industries began to decline in the USA.

          October 22, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • Toni

        I think condoms are cheaper than children, lets just put together a welfare stamps and a free side of condoms!

        October 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
        • Josey


          October 13, 2013 at 12:49 am |
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