What happens when food stamps run out?
November 1st, 2013
04:00 PM ET
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Starting Friday, Joyce Lewis and her family will lose $44 from their monthly food stamp benefits.

The food stamps buy a lot of economical rice-based meals for the family - four adults and a grandson who live with Lewis in Spring Hill, Florida.

Occasionally, when her grocery store is running a deal, Lewis indulges the family with spare ribs or chicken.

The benefit - totaling $800 for four adults - never lasts Lewis and her family a full month.

"When I get to the end, we always run out. I try to go to all the food pantries," Lewis said.

Food stamp benefits will be trimmed by $5 billion starting Friday, when a temporary bump-up enacted during the recession expires. Millions of families will be affected.

Read - Our family will lose $44 in food stamps

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Filed under: Human Rights • Hunger • News

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. don

    ok ,you want food stamps you got em ,you want public housing sure,just remember this is how hitler gathered the jews into ghettoes so when the housing projects are no longer cost effective maybe our government will just cordon off a section of the city for the poor.we can call it a refugee camp then little by little we can put them on trains and send them away never to be seen again,i think as we multiply the problem multiplies there will be an end and I will not be on that train

    June 29, 2014 at 3:03 am |
  2. Sharon Botos

    A twist to food stamps I seldom see mentioned. Many recipients shop for their neighbor or friend at a discount, and then deliver groceries to them for cash exchange. They are able to buy booze, tobacco, drugs, etc. The monthly amount for this program is so out of touch, they can do this and still eat better then the working class American.I would love to see some follow up comments on this fact.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Ruby

      Without foodstamps my family would starve. Thank GOD for foodstamps, and not people like sharon botos

      March 25, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
  3. FedUp With It

    I worked at a car dealership for a while, and they actually had people come in and apply for cars and used their food stamp allotment as income to get approval. THIS IS NOT INCOME!

    I was on food stamps for a period of time about 20 years ago, but I used it when I needed help! I worked my tail off to get off of them and become self sufficient. It's ASSISTANCE, not a way of life!!

    November 18, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  4. Hillary

    $800 a month in food stamps?!! HOLY F - I can't even afford $200 a month in groceries for me and my 2 kids, and I work a full time job AND over-qualify for help :-\ I'd feel like I won the lotto if I was given $800 for FOOD. geez

    November 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  5. Shenandoah

    Everyone I know that is on food stamps abuses the system. They either make bank getting paid cash, or they just flat out lie about how much they make and then turn around and sell their benefits for cash. One girl sold 400 dollars of EBT for 80 dollars to her sister because you cant go to a nightclub and buy beer with an Ebt card. If drug testing was mandatory for benefit recipients I think we would have waaaaay less people getting approved. :-) Again, how many people do I know who have sold their benefits for pain pills, pot, coke, or even beer? Someone who is really truly in need will be able to show and prove their need. And as for the above story, out of all those adults, someone can definitely get a job even if its part time.

    November 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
  6. PlutoIsn'tAPlanet

    Family of 5 & we eat well(healthy food, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, occassional steak) & only spend around $500 a month. How is it impossible for this family to survive on almost $800?It would be a luxury to have such a large grocery budget. I'm not complaining about my own situation. We are, like I mentioned, eating quite well, & don't go hungry.. but to spend around $750 a month, a $250 increase... I just don't see how hunger could be an issue, & we live in an area where cost of living is actually considered on the higher side...

    November 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  7. ADS

    Anyone notice she has been arrested at least three times? Go to http://usamugshots.org/ArrestMugshot/Joyce_Lewis/20085987743210

    November 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Mr. Watson

      Good work Sherlock.

      November 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  8. Snowbunny

    4 adults in the home and nobody can work? They keep having children when they're in financial crisis mode? *Face palm*

    November 5, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • RC@Snowbunny

      If ya can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em!

      November 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  9. Robyn


    >> What happens when food stamps run out?

    Children die so that multinational agri-business can get additional
    welfare handouts for tainting our food and poisoning our water and
    bankers can get additional welfare handouts for robbing people and
    throwing them out of their homes and military contractors can get additional
    welfare handouts for building massively overpriced, shoddy
    equipment that does not work and kills our soldiers.

    Hey, Republicans don't even bother to hide their evil any more.
    We might as well call a spade a spade and talk about it openly.


    November 5, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • D

      For the most part you are wrong. American food supply is more safe than MOST nations. That's due in part to FDA. Sure there are the allotted grasshopper legs and other foreigner objects. But that is alot better than having meat from sick animals.
      As for the bankers, the deregulation of the housing market began under Clinton. Sure bankers were spearheading for more deregulation, but there was not one Congressional officer complaining. But when it started becoming a problem BUSH sent a letter to the FHA concerned about the potential bubble in 2002. A review was performed and reported in 2004 to Congress. Guess what most Dems called it a lie and racist if Fannie and Freddie stopped issuing loans to minority and low income. The rest is history.

      And for the defense industry ma'am, unless you work in the industry you have no idea the kind of ingenuity, time taken and double checks that defense companies take before delivering products to the men & women in our armed forces. If that was not the case, many of the defense contractors would have gone out of business long ago.

      November 5, 2013 at 6:04 am |
    • D

      Consider this also, nearly 30 trillion has been spent to combat hunger for 40 years. It was reported that 50% of the nation's kids were going hungry back in LBJ's time. Funny that we are still at that same number some 40 years later.

      November 5, 2013 at 6:09 am |
      • E

        Funny that the funding for the programs to feed hungry children have been significantly reduced in the last forty years while the population has significantly increased.

        Funny that farm subsidies which were designed to help family farms are increased annually and are given to mostly mufti-million dollar aggro corporations.

        Funny that the US is the only country in the world who thinks GMO grains are okay for human consumption. China doesn't even allow them imported to their country and we all know what high standards of food safety they have.

        Funny how the defense industry gets more than one-half of the nations annual budget.
        It's simply amazing how funny things are.

        November 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • D

      Besides welfare is meant for a hand up not a generational hand out.

      November 5, 2013 at 6:10 am |
  10. Bill

    If you can't eat on $6/day, you're doing it wrong.

    November 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • EB Young

      Food stamps are designed to be a SUPPLEMENT – to add to someone's food budget. Why is that such a hard concept for you to understand?

      November 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
      • EB Old

        How hard is it to understand people lost their jobs and are completely out of work – can't even find part time jobs live in tent cities and food stamps are the only thing between them and starvation.

        Or did you forget the economic collapse?

        November 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Annoyed

    If we can't afford to feed ourselves more than one meal a day, how did we afford an internet connection and a device to post these comments? I doubt it is at the public library.

    November 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Robyn

      You really haven't been to a public library lately (or ever) have you?

      November 5, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  12. Commentour

    I still don't understand how $800 a month buys only rice and an occasional bit of chicken or spare ribs. Even for five people, it just doesn't add up.

    A 20 lb bag of rice is usually $25-30. Even if you need two for the month, that's less than $100. A 10 lb bag of potatoes is usually around $10. I can't imagine even for five people you'd need more than three bags a month. So far that $120. Cans of beans usually run anywhere from 60 cent per can to $1 (if you don't like bags of dried beans, which end up beings a lot lot less per serving). But let's say you buy the most expensive beans and use 6 cans a week. That's $24. So now we're at $144. Let's say you need three loaves of bread per week, that's anywhere from $1 to $4. Most expensive, that's $48 a month. So $192 for your carb staples.

    Eggs at $2.50/dozen at 2 per week = $20

    Milk at $4/gallon at 2 per week = $32

    Fresh veggies can get expensive, but you can get frozen vegetables at the dollar store, or for just over a dollar per pound at a normal grocery store. Let's say the family of five eats 5 lbs of veggies per day, you're looking at around $155.

    Bags of mixed fruit or apples tend to be around $6. Bananas around 60 cents a pound. So let's say you'll be spending around $20/week on fruit, that's $80.

    Now our total for the month is $479. That still leaves over $300 a month for meats and anything else they like.

    Granted, they may not be eating steak and lobster, but that's more than enough to get a few bags of frozen chicken or fish, hamburger or beef and lunch meat. They might have to go a little lighter on the meat sometimes, or substitute sometimes for treats or snacks, but it certainly is enough that they should run out of food by the end of the month.

    Especially since I've over exaggerated the cost of many of the foods I've listed. And that's really if they're eating healthy and they never, ever hit a sale or use any coupons.

    When I was growing up – and I'm talking 15 years ago – we never received any kind of assistance, and my mother sometimes had less than $50 a week for our family of five. She managed to make that work. I can't fathom not being able to make $800 a month work.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Commentour

      Once again, making any kind of comment is impossible on this site. Congratulations.

      November 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I agree. Some of the numbers I have seen of people's bennies are staggering. $800 for food in a month? Holy smokes!

      November 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  13. EnuffAlready

    Why are 4 adults on food stamps? Get a job.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Let me read that out loud to you:

      " Lewis, 55, is worried because the cuts are coming at a bad time. Among other things, a second grandchild is due in January.

      She is also fighting the bank from foreclosing on her home.

      And even though she doesn't smoke, Lewis suffers from emphysema, which prevents her from working.

      Lewis attributes the emphysema to a lifetime of bartending in smoke-filled nonprofit social clubs, such as Elks and Moose lodges.

      Her adult daughters who live with her aren't in a position to work - one is a new mom, and another is due to give birth soon.

      The last sentence did catch my eye. Why are we having kids when we live at home with mom?

      November 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • D

        Sorry my grandfather was diabetic, 2 pack a day smoker and had emphysema and he still worked. He died at 62. So, it's a matter of how bad does she want to work. There are some employers out there that would make concessions.

        November 5, 2013 at 6:20 am |
        • E

          You should really read the article. It states that she is on a electrical machine that helps with her breathing. People breathing oxygen or needing assistance in breathing tend have very limited stamina and probably consider a trip to the bathroom an athletic event.

          November 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  14. cgs

    They will have to buy raw oats instead of sugary cereals, dry rice and beans instead of prepared meals, very little meat, no fast food, no cigarettes, liquor, chips and other frivolities. I think they will manage and maybe even slim down a bit.

    November 4, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • You're a moron

      Feel the love...

      November 4, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  15. RU Serious

    Is that pic of Joyce Lewis real (see link posted by Meagan)? Because if so, this is emblematic of the entitlement problem this country faces. Look again. Closely. What do you see? I see a well-kempt, working-age woman wearing makeup and jewelry, obviously no stranger to the hair boutique, standing outside a seemingly clean, newish-appearing, respectable house. There are numerous lush plants in hanging pots, nice furniture and–oh, what's that I see? Is that a patio chair that appears brand new, even with a tag still on it?

    I think it's great that you can live so well, Mrs. Lewis, but how do you sleep well knowing you are siphoning from my true commitment to an earned living to do so? If you truly struggle for food, why should others feed you to enable a relatively lavish lifestyle well beyond your means?

    There is no doubt we should be charitable with those truly in need. I do not lump Mrs. Lewis, or far-too-numerous similar others, in that category. Stop breaking the backs of the laborers. Tell Mrs. Lewis to live within her means, send her daughters to work, learn to save a little, and grow some pride. And send a message to our politicians that this is not acceptable.

    November 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Really?

      I know this may be difficult for you to grasp, but did it ever occur to you that the clothes, jewelry, furniture, etc were either donated or simply old? We also don't know if that house is hers, or is owned by one of the adults she lives with. We do not have enough information to form a judgement upon a woman based on an article consisting of a few paragraphs.

      Just because you are not financially independent does not mean that you need to look like white trash or be proud of where you live. You seem like the type of person that expects the poor to conform to your own obvious misconceptions on how they should live, which apparently to you requires that they live and look like a pauper.

      November 4, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • Sandy

      Judge not, lest you be judged really applies here. I hope when you lose your job you immediately exchange all your work clothes, cosmetics, and shoes for cruddier versions at Goodwill and trade your car for a beater at the junk yard. It's a myth that everyone stays on welfare forever - most use it to get over a bad patch. No money coming in means hunger, even if you have plenty of nice possessions you earned earlier in life. Please note I said "earned." Luck can change for the worse for anyone.

      November 5, 2013 at 4:05 am |
    • UR not Serious

      If a major news entity was writing an article about you, do you think you might dress up to look your best for a picture too?
      If you put your glasses on you will notice the tag on the outdoor chair cushion is one of those "do not remove under penalty of law" tags.

      November 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  16. Meagan

    Here's the original article from CNN. Four "poor" adults living in one home (with a patio that looks a lot nicer than mine–we're too busy working and paying for everyone else's welfare) and not one works? Daughter #1 who lives with her has a kid, and the presumably also poor daughter #2 is about to have a kid? Sorry, I'll save my sympathy for the truly poor and downtrodden. This goes for the farm bill too...cut subsidies (welfare) for rich agribusiness.

    November 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Meagan

      Oops, here's the link: http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/01/news/economy/food-stamps-families/

      November 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  17. GotRocks

    Considering that OBESITY is growing at epidemic rates, the best possible policy for the government is to stop feeding the problem. Hopefully this cut in food stamps, however small it is, will help a bit.

    November 2, 2013 at 7:35 am |
  18. Lorrie

    Flori, I can understand and sympathize with you. yes there are people who do the things u mentioned. But let me tell you thee are more people that really need them and do not abuse them. I was once a sngle mom with four kids and had to get welfare for a while. Yes my kids got potato chips and soda sometimes with those foodstamps. But when i had to be on them, we would go and plan our meals for the week. Then we would got to the store and buy the ingredients for those meals. I used coupons and scanned store ads for deals. Once I knew I had enough food to feed us for the whole month, i would treat my kids to snacks or maybe stuff to make cookies. We never went out to eat, unless my parents took us. At the end of each month, i would have 100.00 dollars left over. Now I am not saying we never ate steak. !! It wasn't pime rib or t-bone steaks. But if I caught a sale on a good steak, why shouldn't I get it, so we could enjoy it. I even knew of a place that we could order a pizza with whatever we wanted on it and pay with foodstamps. The catch was, that we had to bring it home and cook it. I for one do not see anything wrong with that, it wasn't all the time..once a month as a treat. Not everyone abuses the system, but the ones that do, ruin it for the rest.

    November 2, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • Pandora

      I don't get food stamps because I don't qualify because I make just a bit too much money working. I can never afford steak or pizza. That is just wrong of you. No wonder the poor are the fattest.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:27 am |
      • Ally

        While I agree there are some people who abuse the assistance; it sounds like Lorrie was handling it the way it's meant to be.

        I find it hard to believe that you make too much for any assistance and still NEVER find the extra money in your budget to be able to afford a pizza or a steak. If you choose to treat yourself on things other than special foods that's perfectly fine. I see no problem with a mother of 4 scrimping for a whole month in order to plan a single special day that her kids can enjoy a slice of pizza.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Liz

    My family lives in the midwest, one of the states that start with an I, and I can reassure the previous poster Flori that we do not live above our means by no way. My family consists of my child whose 11 and my husband and myself. We receive a total of $226 a month. I am disabled and no longer able to work, and he too is mental ill that the only job he can get is a farm hand for his father which pays less than 1200 a month.... when 800 is for bills off top of check I find it impossible to fathom having a full month without worrying if we are going to go hungry by week 2. see in the rural area, that we live in, there is one, one food bank to service the whole county. no luck there. i have learned to get by with one meal a day, usually a sandwich, and make sure my kid has something to eat. people who are either unable to be compassionate or can only see the bad seed out of the pile.... go and take the official USDA challenge... see if you and your family can do it...by as much as you are griping I seriously doubt it. Don't push those who are misfortunate and worse off than your standards into a group.... oh yeh and btw, the only benefits we recieve is medical and food assistance..... and if this stupid state I live in would hold up to the laws in regards to child support and punishment, I would have $15,000.00 in back support and then current..... but yeah I get it blame a society for the errors of it's people. Go educate yourself.

    November 2, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • D

      Liz my heart goes out for you. However, instead of posting your frustration on the internet do something to change your life. For starters stop being bitter about the child support not coming through. Address the price to the right channels and put it in God's hands.

      Next, if you can't work then why are you on the Internet? Internet service cost at least 40 a month. And if you can afford it then use it to make money rather than bitching and wasting your time with replies and scolding. Tough love

      November 5, 2013 at 6:32 am |
      • Jebus

        Have you ever considered that Liz is already in Gods hands and he put her right where he wanted her? He is making her suffer so you can feel good about yourself.

        November 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Stacey

      I live in the same area as you and I do know how difficult it can be. However, I've seen people get together and raise community gardens - one of the wonderful things about living in a rural area. The Extension Service has reams of information and there are many, many people out there who would be happy to show others how to raise their own food. The biggest problem is that it does take WORK, PERSERVERENCE, and even SWEAT. All age groups can participate, just share the labor and perform the work that you are able. Confined to wheelchair or oxygen? Then shell the peas, snap the beans. Even 6- & 8-year olds can successfully participate and have fun...and as a BONUS learn some life skills, a work ethic and the skills to work together. Folks, we need to increase our self-sufficiency! People hate to here the "back in the old days" stories, but I was 9 months pregnant and helped harvest corn in the field. My kids at age 6 did their outdoor chores which included bottle feeding calves and hoeing the garden. A neighbor's 6 kids put themselves through college by selling sweet corn from a pickup truck bed every summer since they were toddlers.
      As a society we need to get out of this victim mentality and expect someone else to dig us out of the holes we dig.

      November 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  20. Flori

    So they cut back on Medicaid and there are people bitching about it! ARE YOU KIDDING ME! You know what government, All I see is seafood places with really big signs saying "WE ACCEPT EBT". So that means they can get a bushel of crabs, any other seafood, prime rib, etc... On our "working 40 hours a week and still can't afford crap" paycheck, while on the phone in line and walks out and gets into a luxury car that I will never, ever be able to afford! We can only take our kids out once in a while to a restaurant to go eat. You know why? That is called treating ourselves. I am so sick of this society!

    November 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • PMS Alarm

      Then go live somewhere else. I dare you.

      November 4, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • You're a moron


      November 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • RC@You're a moron, you really are!

        Wow, if that was too long for you, then who's the moron now? Oh! It's you!

        November 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
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