Sheila Steffen is a producer for CNN. Read part one of her food stamp challenge, wherein she shopped for a week's worth of groceries, spending only the $30 which would be allotted by food stamps.
Previously: Could you live on $30 a week? | Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America | Childhood malnutrition has long lasting effects
On Sunday night I’m finishing up the last of my big pot of black beans. The bag of dry beans I purchased along with a bag of rice has been three of my main meals this week.
I’m not against leftovers; I eat them. It's just that I normally wouldn’t plan to eat the same thing again and again but this past week it was that, or go hungry. I didn’t have the luxury of variety or choice.
My $30 food stamp challenge forced some difficult shopping choices and as many readers pointed out, I may not have made the wisest. I’m more accustomed to shopping for convenience than hunting for bargains. But I am keenly aware that each purchase I made for this week is accounted for, either for a breakfast, a lunch, or a dinner and maybe a snack.
There is no room for waste, and one bad choice is all it takes to go hungry. If a jar of pasta sauce breaks an entire meal could be lost.
I spend all of my $30 before realizing I've forgotten sauce for my box of pasta. The peppers I'd initially regretted buying come in handy and along with three tomatoes I make my own sauce. Cooking big pots of food is a necessary strategy.
The first two days are filled with periods of hunger. 5:30 on Tuesday seems too early to be thinking about dinner but that’s all I can think about it. I race home from work to fix a chicken breast, broccoli and rice; the best and most nutritious meal in my week. I get to have it twice.
Wednesday’s the most difficult; I wake up hungry and help myself to a big bowl of Farina but realize a ‘bigger portion’ strategy isn’t the answer. It’ll fill me up now but I’m afraid if I eat too much I will run out of my allotted food before the end of the week.
I count the slices of bread in my loaf and discover there are a few extra slices– which means one day I can have two sandwiches! I decide today is that day and bring two PB&J sandwiches to work for lunch.
It's clear food has been on my mind more than usual this week. I think when you have a limited budget and fewer choices; you’re forced to do more thinking and planning around meals. I’m so very conscious, too, of all the things I have to forego. I can’t just grab a coffee or go to dinner with friends. I feel a bit isolated. Not having enough money for food affects not just your mood and health, but also your social life.
Thursday is the first morning I don’t wake up hungry. I think my body may be getting used to less food. Still, I’m afraid I’ll get hungry so I eat a bowl of Farina anyway. I get through the day fine but decide against going to the gym after work. How do parents, who may skip meals so their kids can eat, find the energy they need to shop, cook, and care for the kids?
Coffee may be a luxury, but I’m glad I bought some. If my calorie count this week is low, my morning cup of joe helps make up for it and keeps me going.
A weekend out of city limits proves a bit tricky. Not only do I have to bring food, I can't share it! “Sorry honey, can’t offer you any,” is what I keep saying.
Sounds selfish, right? But my food supply is limited, and this last chicken breast is what I’ve set aside and planned for my dinner tonight. It’s all I have. On Sunday rushing to catch an afternoon train back to the city leaves me no time to make a sandwich, and so I have to go without lunch. Ugh!
Definitely knowing that this challenge is only for a week has been helpful in getting me through it. I’m grateful for the new insight and lesson in empathy. At times I realize it’s difficult to avoid hunger, to afford nutritious food. I certainly won’t look at the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables in the same way.
Next week I can go back to more options and more food. But for millions of Americans across the country this challenge is real. week in and week out.
One in four families - according to the Food Research and Action Center - worry about having enough money to feed themselves and their families. And for those who may get the help of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps, it still may not be enough to buy the minimum amount of food the United States Department of Agriculture says people need to survive.
What I ate this week
Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Lunch: PB&J, one apple
Dinner: Black beans & rice (made with: one pepper, two tomatoes), tap water to drink.
Dessert: Small bowl of leftover rice with packet of Splenda sprinkled on top
Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Lunch: Salad (made with: spinach, two tomatoes, 1/2 yellow pepper, one can of tuna)
Dinner: Chicken breast, broccoli and rice, tap water to drink
Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Lunch: Two PB&J sandwiches
Dinner: Pasta (made with: two peppers, three tomatoes) - two helpings, tap water to drink
Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Mid-morning snack: two apples cut up
Lunch: PB&J, apple
Dinner: Black beans & rice - two bowls, tap water to drink
Breakfast: Farina, two espressos
Snack: Two cut up apples
Lunch: Salad (spinach, two tomatoes, one pepper, small floret broccoli, one can tuna)
Dinner: Pasta - two helpings, tap water to drink
Breakfast: Farina, one espresso
Lunch: PB&J, bowl of applesauce (made with three apples)
Dinner: Chicken breast, broccoli and rice, tap water to drink
Breakfast: Farina, one espresso
Dinner: Black beans & rice, tap water to drink
Dessert: One apple
Gotta tell you...I worked as a cashier all through college...people are not buying chicken, veggies, rice, and farina with their food stamps. In seven years I never saw a food stamp order with that much healthy food.
My co-worker has a 2nd job as a grocery cashier and people come in and don't speak English and they buy steak and lobster with their food stamps, and her attitude is, "if I'm going to be paying for your lobster, at least speak English to me."
I bet that 7 year college degree worked out really well for you
No, smart azz that would be degrees. A bachelors and a masters. Go ahead and finish cramming your pie hole with that family sized bag-o-chips, bi tch.
I too have been on both sides of the fence and agree if people learned how to cook they could spread their money farther. Remember to use meat as a seasoning. My issue is when I go to the store here in Vermont and watch folks use their EBT card to by junk food. Recently, I watched one lady use her EBT card to pay for her mother's groceries, as her mother handed her cash, which she then used to purchase beer and cigarettes. Even more recently on a trip to North Carolina I watch a lady purchase some of the "best of everything" while using food stamps to pay for the purchase. No checks and balances...the system is misused.
Why do you care so much about what other people are doing? Everyone is free to do whatever, right?
Why should not we care? Its out money. we are paying for those lazy fat asses.
Let's not forget that full service grocery stores aren't in every neighborhood. Lots of people are trying to survive from what the corner 7-11 has to offer. I think a voucher system more like the WIC program would get healthier foods to the poorest of folks.
richard you are bless to be earning that per year between youand you wife when last have you given something to the poor the bible says give and he will bless all you are talking about is just vanity you need to check yourself and be more passionate to the less fortunate you need to go by the food bank and make a donatiion.
I have overspent for years on food and recently have made a concentrated effort to buy only what I really need and eat everything I buy. Going semi-vegetarian has made my meals more economical and healthier. Looking at the author's menu, I would make changes such as stretching the meat by blending with the beans in a casserole instead of making the chicken breast a central piece of a dinner. I can roast an inexpensive chicken and get 8-10 meals out of it for myself that way. Same with cheap cuts of beef. Fresh fish is too expensive so I limit that to canned tuna which, again, I make stretch by blending it in casseroles or salads (two meals from a 6 oz can).
I buy almost nothing pre-made – no bottled salad dressings (vinegar and oil only), no fancy cereals (bulk oatmeal), no microwave meals, no dehydrated rice or noodle concoctions, no bagged lettuce, etc. I make a lot of soups and also eat less in general. I have upped the amount of greens in my diet – romaine, kale, collards, etc. These foods are very inexpensive and filling, plus the health benefits are amazing.
One of my big weaknesses was going out to breakfast. I still miss that but I don't miss being out the $50-$70 a week and over time have come to crave the 1/2 cup of oatmeal and banana that is now my staple breakfast. Now eggs are one of the things I use for the main course at dinner. My big extravagances now are raw nuts and sometimes cheese – I can make a pound of cheddar stretch for two weeks.
I also keep a few little herb pots on the kitchen windowsill for fresh flavoring in my recipes. Totally organic and totally renewable. I am researching how I can start container-gardening more fresh food and that is my next step in providing for myself.
We have it all backwards in this country regarding food, as our growing obesity and diminishing health stats can testify. We are spoiled with convenience and also with giving our power over to other to produce our meals for us.
And I agree with Sally Mander. I was raised the same way and I am finding so much joy and economy in going back to those principles.
Don't kid yourself....people on welfare eat good. They are always in front of me at the check out, buying name brands (I buy off brands), and they pay for the beer and party supplies with a big role of cash that they take out of their back pockets (like who carries $100 bills.... in a roll.... in their back pocket). Food stamps and welfare and the reasons I changed my major (in college) to business. Get a job!!
I wonder how many people on food stamps would remain on them if the state required them to work for them a certain amount of hours a week? This could also be coupled with mandatory education classes to better thier job skill sets. Plenty of time would be left to seek jobs or interview (if a note was provided), but participation should be mandatory or no handout. Why doesn't America have a backbone anymore?
But those who receive Food Stamps/SNAP ARE required to work. I should know; I am working a 40+ hour a week job in order to receive my pathetic $150 dollars that is supposed to feed my family of FOUR. Maybe you should do a little research before you post, Kim.
Food stamps are supposed to supplement not replace your own income. You work 40+ hours and still get food stamps because you have 4 kids and you don't make enough. If you were totally unemployed you would get about 500 a month. I know because that is what I got. No one on food stamps is starving to death but I wouldn't want to quit my job just for food stamps. If someone else is supporting you it's not supposed to be pleasant. If you want better work for it.
@Brian: I do not have 4 children. I have two children and a disabled wife. And I know it is a supplemental program, and that all I would have to do to get more stamps is to work less, (as I have been told by many of my neighbors on SNAP). However, I choose to WORK to support my family, rather than just sit back and let someone else do it. Thank you for your comment though, much appreciated.
That is an arrogant assumption. Most people, in my experience, would rather be working that having to rely on food stamps. It would be a welcome boost to their dignity to be able to work a few hours. Secondly–just because they are down on their luck doesn't mean they don't have good job skills or education. It's just as easy to lose a professional job as it is to lose a fry cook job due to the rotten economy...and just as hard to find one with good job skills and education.
In many places you can't go to school and get food stamps. It's assumed that if you are going to college, that is time you could be working instead. So you're choosing not to work. Therefore you can't get food stamps. I know people who had to choose between their food stamps and improving their skills so they could get a new job.
When I was laid off, we got food stamps for a little while. We were only eligible because my husband was working and we had a small child (which meant I was exempt from having to have a job because we had a 10 month-old).
I don't think that people who haven't been through the process don't really understand it and make a lot of assumptions about it.
Also, I wish that we'd had $30 a week. We only got $87 a month plus some WIC coupons that helped pay for formula. Our daughter had to have soy formula because of allergies and that can get expensive. We were penalized because we had health insurance – they counted the money we spent on it as money we could spend on food even though we couldn't drop or change the policy until the end of the year.
Breastfeeding is free.
I don't think it would be a problem, as long as the government could supply the work, as it obviousely can't!
Kim, I too, at one time felt the way you do. I had worked consistently for 40 years since I was 17 years old – and felt like I worked hard and paid my fair share of taxes, etc. and everyone else should to. Then one day I was out of work due to bad economy in 2008 and then the next week my husband, who also had always worked, got laid off. For the first time ever, I could NOT find a job. 6 months and over 2000 resumes and phone calls later, I was still out of work. Unemployment only kept my electricity on and did not even come close to paying the house payment. I now firmly believe that the majority of food stamp and unemployment users are trying to find work and cant'
Kim E, I worked for a county abuse shelter a few years ago and in order to qualify for food stamps, health insurance, and/or cash assistance you either had to be working (just making under a certain amount) or you HAD to attend an educational workshop for 4 hours several days a week. After you finished the classes if you still hadn't found a job then you took a resume class. If you left the class early or missed a class, your assistance was halted. I don't know if these were state regulations or federal regulations...but try not to make blanket assumptions because they're not always true.
I am a middle class stay-at-home mom who does not use any government assistance. My family of 6 eats on about $600 a month, which is about $25 a week per person. It is very easy and we eat pretty nutritiously. The key is coupons and store sales. If you can learn to do that efficiently, $30 a week is more than enough.
Her first mistake was buying peppers. They are one of the most expensive vegetables! Her second mistake...expresso? Really? Was that one she bought or brewed at home? This is completely unrealistic and yeah, she was not kidding when she said she doesn't know how to shop bargains!
Yeah, the peppers and boneless chicken blew me away. Here, colored peppers such as she bought are $3.99 a pound during the summer. Boneless chicken is substantially more per pound than normal chicken. And she could have used the bones to season the beans. She bought white albacore tuna, from the photograph, and baby leaf spinach! And I would love to see her get a three year old to eat any of it! She bought white rice, which has little nutrition and isn't filling when brown rice is more filling and healthier. She should have added apple to her farina. She used oil on her pasta but didn't include it in her bill. She only used the forets from her broccoli...she didn't learn anything, didn't prepare well but she did get published – mission accomplished!
Farina was another mistake. I have oatmeal for breakfast, make oatmeal muffins and oatmeal bread and use it instead of bread crumbs in meatloaf. (You can find lower-fat, good quality ground beef if you really look and I'll admit I keep an eye outt for sales and managers' specials.) If I researched more I'm sure I could find other uses for it.
Wow, really? First off, I'm a college student and I eat on about 30$ of food a week. Second, I think it's absolutely pathetic that you're trying to make the American taxpayer feel guilty for not having ENOUGH of his or her money stolen to feed people with flat-screen TV's and cable. Lastly, the vast majority of people I see using food stamps (and I see plenty) usually have their carts stuffed full of Oreos and Mountain Dew.
Sheesh, people in Africa would live off of 30$ a month and feel like kings. If you feel so guilty about all these "poor" Americans, go volunteer at your local soup kitchen or donate some food to your local foodbank.
Stolen? Give me a break.
As a student, I'm sure MILLIONS of dollars are being taken out of your retail paycheck to feed someone else.
Stop watching Faux News and learn to think for yourself. And maybe, idk, have a little compassion for those less fortunate than you? You have no idea of someone's situation....and don't base your "facts" on things you see, b/c the actual truth is often a much different story.
Thank you and you are correct. There are definitely people who abuse the system but we have to always remember it is the children who suffer the most. And many people on assistance buy junk food because it is cheaper and tends to fill up more than "good" food. You can buy bottles of pop for less than a dollar...the market for this stuff appeals and preys on the poor. I also agree that 30.00 could go much farther than this article implies. I would have no issues feeding myself and my daughter for 30.00 a piece per month. In fact, as a single mother not on assistance I have to shop very frugally and I manage to make appealing dinners.
Ryan is right. Ask yourself why the poor in America are FAT, while the poor in other countries are SKINNY. Do American poor need MORE food, or LESS food? Obviously, they're overfed like a bunch of fat pigs. Let them feel the pangs of hunger so they motivate themselves to go out and work harder, like EVERY OTHER POOR PERSON OUTSIDE OF THE U.S. DOES. When you subsidize anything, you get MORE of it–like poverty.
because cheap food is usually pretty unhealthy – that's why poor people are fat in America.
The difference between these poor "fat" Americans and poor third-world country people are lack of education/knowledge leading to making poor choices (McDonald) vs not having much of choice.
"Wow, really? First off, I'm a college student and I eat on about 30$ of food a week. Second, I think it's absolutely pathetic that you're trying to make the American taxpayer feel guilty for not having ENOUGH of his or her money stolen to feed people with flat-screen TV's and cable."
Yep, poor people all have flat screen tv's or cable. They have silver wear made of silver too.
My revised Food Stamps Plan:
We now call them Idiot-Bucks. On each Idiot-Buck Debit Card, which is bright pink and embarrassing, there is a picture of Bozo-The-Clown and a picture of you so that the card can only be used by its owner. In order to qualify for Idiot-Bucks, you must attend either a GED program or a work program that is provided by your friendly neighborhood DSS office. Failure to attend and participate results in your loss of Idiot-Bucks. You must also pass a drug test. Working citizens of this country have to pass a drug test in order to pay taxes, you will have to pass a drug test to get $ out of taxes. Fair is fair. If you commit a felony, you do not qualify for Bozo-Bucks. Fraud of Bozo-Bucks is now a felony, resulting in 1 year jail time and a revocation of your rights to Bozo-Bucks.
Public Assistance is intended to help those who need it for a short period of time so that they can get back on their feet. It has become a viable lifestyle for generation upon generation of American citizens. It is a crime that this has been allowed to happen. Making Bozo-Bucks something embarrassing to have and eliminating the ability to simply sell them outright for cash will change people’s attitude towards them and put things back the way they are intended to be. When 40% of a city’s population is on public assistance, there is a problem, and it stretches far beyond a “struggling economy” as it is a reflection of the entitled mentality of the American Citizen.
So, your plan is to humiliate people who need temporary help? There are quite a few who abuse the system, but many who do not. In this economy, I suspect many people on food stamps are people who never imagined they would need it.
I have a daughter with schizophrenia. Get a life and understand that all are not created equal. Oh and check back in 20 years and let's see if you and your wife are still married to each other. I'll bet she'll takes you to the cleaners and finds a man with a heart-something you lack!!!Then take your money and try to buy some more love!!!
Don't worry about him. Someone that feels the need to brag about what they're spending on stuff either A) doesn't actually have it or B) has some serious "issues." It's such a cliche, but it's never a happy ending for people like that, either way.
Dude he was lying to get a rise out of people. If he worked so hard why is he on CNN posting comments during the middle of a weekday like the rest of us peasants?
good job chucko, all these dems are such fools
I work at a high poverty school in the south with over 85% of our students receiving free or reduced lunches. Many students and their families live on food stamps. Many families receive so many food stamps that they actually sell them for cash. You can buy $50 of food stamps for $35 of cash, for instance. This allows the family to make some extra income or to use the money to buy things that food stamps cannot. So many of my students are overweight. They live on junk food, sodas, and sports drinks. They eat a lot of fast food. They are not what I would call poor as most have cell phones, new clothes and shoes, and TV at home. I love my students but it is clear there is a generational, celebrated poverty. No one is ashamed of receiving food stamps. In fact, students brag about the "free money." I always explain that it is never free, it is paid for with taxes deducted from the income of hard working people, including myself. This seems to be a foreign concept to many of my kids. They also can't wait to turn 18 so they can file for their own food stamps. I used to be very liberal before witnessing the sheer abuse of the welfare system in this country. I would say 8 out of 10 kids and their families are abusing the system. It makes me very jaded towards poverty in our country and how it is dealt with by our government through social program. I don't know how to fix the problem, obviously no one does, but I do see both sides of this story.
You really need to take a course on social welfare policy instead of making broad assumptions. You can sit in on my course if you want.
It's so much easier to make broad assumptions, though! And it makes me feel so much better about my own life to put other people down!
I see the Hispanic population use the "hell out of" the Lone Star Card at the Fiesta near my home. I go to the store with a budget and they have a field day.
Cell phones are often free. New clothing? God forbid! TV? Um...you can buy one at a pawn shop on the cheap.
Since when to the poor have to live in grass huts or something in order to qualify as being "poor enough"? I suppose you think they shouldn't be allowed refrigerators, either.
Frankly, the average American lives on junk food! NOT just the poor. People are not taught any better...and healthy food can be quite pricey and often difficult to get depending on where you live. Look at all the coupons in the paper...they are for junk food.
I absolutely agree with you on most of those points. I think everyone does deserve a decent quality of life. I understand that generational poverty often has a very sour source that cannot be easily remedied. I understand all of these things. I don't think I am making a "broad assumption" when I am working in this situation every day, living in a community that has a very high rate of poverty and working with students and their families who are oftentimes poor. I can't stop and change my feelings towards the subject which have been based solely on my personal experiences. I know this is not everyone's story. I know I don't see the whole picture. But it IS what I see. I would love to attend a class on social welfare policy, because I want to believe that the system works. Though right now all I see is the abuse of the welfare system.
Aaron is RIGHT. Those of you who disagree are letting your emotion and liberal ideology interfere with (and obscure) the facts. You just want to feel good about yourselves, so you lie to yourselves and convince yourself of all sorts of liberal BS.
My experience is the same as Aaron's. My sister sold the car she could not afford to one of my "below poverty line" parents.
Not my parents, the student's "below poverty line" parents.
I agree totally Aaron. I live in Southern Georgia and there is absolutely no shame in many of our food stamp recipients. I compare their carts with steak, shrimp, and other expensive foods and then look at my cart with store brand products and hamburger meat, and it really steams me. I am working hard and paying taxes for them to eat much better than my family. If the SNAP program was run like the WIC program where there are only a restricted variety of healthy foods that can be purchased, then the abuse and childhood obesity epidemic would be greatly reduced. This program is BADLY in need of an overhaul.
I'm sure Aaron will take some heat for posting the TRUTH about the abuse of the system. I'd like to believe that less than 5% abuse the system, but my REALITY world tells me it's a lot more than that.
Aaron is right, for those of you who don't believe its happening, please open your eyes. I volunteer at a nonprofit/ after school program where 100% of the kids in the program qualify for the federal free lunch program, which means their reported income falls under poverty guidelines. I see parents drop off their kids in large, newer ( 2-5 years old) oversized SUV's...think Denali, Escapade's, etc. Yes some of them also drive very run down cars. I spend a lot of time listening to these kids talk about their lives, talk about how their parents fight, how their mom's new boyfriend isn't so nice,, etc. They talk about how they have laptops, playstations, Wii's. These kids have puma's, nikes on their feet, jewelry, makeup, nice clothes with a lot of variety.
Im sorry, but go visit other countires where people are truly poor. They do not have TVs, cable, have new shoes, clothes, and luxury items like PS3s. That's fine if people want to buy these things, but BUY them on their own dime, not mine or any other hard working taxpayers dollars. I have 0 problem feeding kids, I believe its the right thing to do. I do however have a problem subsidizing people's luxury purchases and I do consider TV, cable, and entertainment a luxury item.
People game the system, people underreport income as they have cash jobs. So they are getting SSI and food stamps while their cash is going to buy Escalade's. I pay my dutiful share of taxes, and I don't condone people who flat out lie to not pay their share of taxes, or obtain federal aid.
I believe that the food stamps program was designed, and is still intended, to be an "assistance" program. Not a "pays for every bit of food I eat" program. I believe that in the rules of most places' food stamps information it says just that. So trying to eat on what someone would get for food stamps in a week is kind of a mute point. Assistance, not complete coverage of one's food needs is what the food stamp program is based on.
We now call them Bozo-Bucks. On each Bozo-Buck Debit Card, which is bright pink and embarrassing, there is a picture of Bozo-The-Clown and a picture of you so that the card can only be used by its owner. In order to qualify for Bozo-Bucks, you must attend either a GED program or a work program that is provided by your friendly neighborhood DSS office. Failure to attend and participate results in your loss of Bozo-Bucks. You must also pass a drug test. Working citizens of this country have to pass a drug test in order to pay taxes, you will have to pass a drug test to get $ out of taxes. Fair is fair. If you commit a felony, you do not qualify for Bozo-Bucks. Fraud of Bozo-Bucks is now a felony, resulting in 1 year jail time and a revocation of your rights to Bozo-Bucks.
CHESS...God bless you and your hard work!! Your reward will be great!!
I have been on both sides of this fence. i have had plenty of money to buy groceries and been so broke all i could afford was a Chicken sandwich for 1.00 that I had to split in two for breakfast and lunch ! I love to cook and I'm creative You don't have to spend a lot to eat decently. There are dollar stores that now sell all kinds of things and even in the regular store if you are creative enough you can buy Wheat pasta for a buck and some garlic a few tomatoes.. and a dinner for four can apear. I only feed my husband and I now ..My kids are grown, working and supporting themselves. i can afford groceries but i am still very cautious and try to get the most for my money. I work hard and know how to shop. So many people on Welfare and even not buy soo much Garbage.. and fill their Families full of absolute crap ! it amazes me how many people don't know how to cook, shop or eat Healthy .. Fresh produce is not that expensive and I make my own desserts my own pie crusts and just learn to budget... Priorities ! If you can't afford food.. get rid of Cable.. live without all the toys and read up on cooking and shopping. The Library is full of all kinds of wonderful books to use to teach people how to do this. I know I'm dating myself (I'm 59) but.. when we went to School we were taught how to cook, shop, and budget ... too many people on Welfare still have all of the electronics and then live on Crap ! I've been well off and very broke and homeless too .. I worked my butt off, regrouped, got my head out of my A.. and am now woking and living comfortably .. hard work priorities straight and good old fashioned know how !!
I could easily live on$30 per week clip some coupon buycabbage carrots breans ,rice a chicken bread eggs peanut butter and jelly you have to do whats best for you because its just hard times se all are in
I agree, A bag of Flour, Sugar, a few baics and just some ingenuity... I know it's not easy but it is do-able. I also make large pots of Soup, Chili, and things like that ..
I agree, A bag of Flour, Sugar, a few basics and just some ingenuity... I know it's not easy but it is do-able. I also make large pots of Soup, Chili, and things like that ..
In reading the article, no mention was made about using coupons. Having been layed off and unemployment benefits only covering part of the mortgage we had to make some hard choices. One area we controlled was food and feeding a family of 4 on $40 a week. We use internet blogs to match up food sales with coupons to eat healthy, not junk. It means preparing most things vs a mix. Now that we have jobs, we still continue to use coupons, not the extreme couponing.
we all have to make the best of what we have
Oh, for the love of crap. There are a lot of people out there who take advantage of the system, but there are a lot who don't, too. I'm a married 25 year old mom of two young boys. My husband is a computer tech in a small local firm and I'm back in school, racking up the loan money to get my RN. I get no more in loans than I need to pay for classes and books, my husband makes $.25 above minimum wage working over 40 hours a week, and we have no health insurance.
We are on WIC, Medicaid, and SNAP benefits.
Because our boys are young and growing we make the most of our benefits. Coupons and sales can be applied to SNAP purchases. A handful of change a week can purchase a paper a day; that extra bit pays off by allowing us more to spend on our SNAP benefits. We purchase from the farmer's market when able, thanks to a program set up through the county that allows us to spend SNAP benefits there. When we purchase ingredients instead of boxed things, we can easily afford to make things like bread and even occasional treats like brownies or cakes if there's a birthday or special occasion coming up. We shop at Aldi's when we have no coupons with us, or no coupons for things that we need. We ensure that if we need something WIC can provide (like peanut butter, milk, beans, or fresh fruits/veggies), we spend that first – SNAP doesn't get used until we've run out of WIC for the month. Boxed meals like Hamburger Helper get replaced with whole wheat noodles, real cheese from WIC, milk, and spices. We buy a value meat bundle once a month from a local butcher that accepts SNAP.
We make the assistance that we get count and we take nothing for granted. My husband and I both gave up soda (our kids aren't allowed to have any), and we make our own baked chips at home from potatoes or pita or tortillas instead of buying bags of them.
Our meals aren't luxurious, but they are healthy, responsible, and appropriate. Our children do not go hungry because we use sales and coupons to our advantage when we're able – and every once in a while it allows us a special treat, like a candy bar. As a result, my husband and I are losing weight and our boys are both healthy, vibrant, and rambunctious.
Please remember that while there are some destroying the system, there are others like us, who will be paying back into it in just a few short years. Please remember that you're helping my family, too, not just the ones who are blatantly abusing the system. :)
I have library books to check out! Thanks for listening to me rant. :)
Ugh. You already have 2 kids and you are only 25? You should have waited until you received your college degree & worked for at least 5 years before having kids. Then you wouldn't be in this situation where my tax dollars are paying for your kids' food.
Can't Feed em – Dont Breed em!
tom that was very selfish
The system is broken, but not in the short sighted way that most of these posters are saying. As a person who survived on food stamps for a couple years I can provide information on how it is broken. The abuse of the system is built in to the way the program is set up. While I was using the food stamps, I had plenty of 'food money' to eat whatever I wanted. The problem is the gap in getting off of them. If I didnt have a job, they gave me all I could use, but once I was able to find work, at barley above minimum wage, then they took it all away. I got more money per week for food stamps(for me, wife, and 1 kid) than I got working 40 hrs a week at minimum wage. But since I had a job and income, they took all the food money away. That meant it was better for me not to work than it was for me to work. The leap from govnt assistance to self support is too wide for lots of Americans to make the jump, thus discourages anyone to try. Now I make over 6 figures per year and never look back, but for about a year, I was in the gap where I would have been better off to sit on my ass than work. That is why the system is broken.
Good for you! You're completely right, of course – yes, the people who abuse the system are a problem but actually leaving the system requires some huge blessing – such as moving from a paycheck of $100-$200 a week to whatever surprisingly larger figure you need to suitably feed your family and pay all of your bills, too. I can't wait until we hit that point, but I'm a little afraid of the transition still. I know WIC will be there for us until we hit $30k a year or so but SNAP is INCREDIBLY helpful on its own.
Love hearing stories from those that have moved off of benefits, gives me hope for when we do the same.
Thank you for pointing that out! The gov't punishes people for being "working poor". Something needs to change or why would people be motivated at all to get out of the poverty cycle!?
The government gives out way too much money. It wasn't long ago that people thought it was offensive to ask for handouts. Now-a-days, everyone feels entitled to 'basic necessities' – which often are not required to sustain oneself.
The other week I struck up a conversation with a college graduate who was jobless. He claimed he received $900 every two weeks from the government for housing, food and other 'basic necessities'. He was bragging about duping the government into giving him money – which I consider to be theft.
What happened to the American dream where everyone works hard for what they get? When did it become expected that the government would hold everyone's hand and help them up onto their feet?
He should be forced to pay all of that back, and whoever approved him to get $900 every two weeks should be thrown in jail.
Consider, however, that back when it was "shameful" to ask for "handouts," the extended family and the community helped those in need. Now government has taken over the job–and it makes you jump through bureaucratic hoops to get your necessities.
Scary – you're so right. My sister is a social worker and it is unbelievable the type of predicament some people work themselves into. Why work when you can get more for doing less? – Ethics, integrity, morality, self respect. That's what needs to be instilled in America. If you receive money from the government, the government should have the right to regulate what you consume and what you do.
$30 dollars a week per person
that's about what I spend now for my wife and myself and eat very well in the SF bay area.
Learn to cook, don't by quickie prepaid meals, lots of fruit and veggies, and look around where you shop.Not to name drop but I do most of my shopping at target and raleys. Figure I save about 25-30% vs going to safeway or luckys.
Also hit a lot of the local markets for produce.
Homemade pizza last night, pepporini, sauge and mushroom with a homemade tomatoe pesto sauce. Under $6 and I dare you to find a better one.
A lot of the working poor....people working 2 or 3 min. wage jobs...don't have time to make "home cooked meals". That's great that it works for you, but I find comments like this to be completely unrealistic w. re: to actual poverty. If it is a one parent household and the one parent works all the time, who is going to make all these wonderful home-cooked meals? Esp. if the children are too young to be using a stove, etc.
Slow cooker? crockpot? cook once, eat twice? Meal planning? freezer cooking? Shop twice a month instead of twice a week.....that'll save time and money ;0) Quit making excuses!
For many families it isn't $30 a week per person. It's $30 per week, period. We didn't even get that much. When I was laid off, we had a 10 month-old who had to drink soy formula because of allergy issues. If it wasn't for WIC covering a few containers a month, I don't think we would have made it.
I have worked at a cashier at for many years at a store right next to a trailor park. These people come in with Food Stamps and buy the most expensive items in the store. Steak, fresh seasfood, anything. I have also seen these people try and trick the counter and return the items they bought on food stamps and try to argue to get cash back so they can use that cash to get cigs, alcohol, and lottery tickets. It isn't just a couple or one. It seems like everyone on foodstamps knows they are taking advantage of the system and other's goodwill. This program needs to be gotten rid of completely.
So,....by your logic, because a few people who you see game the system (trust me, I have seen it, too), ergo, everyone games the system and therefore no-one should receive bennies.
Even on food stamps our poor live far better than many of the poor in our world. We have many luxuries in this country and we are in desperate need of new perspective that only God can give to open hearts. Our country is full of "hard hearts" just as the bible foretold. Hard hearts can not see the truth. Look around you...many unhappy hard hearted people. Only God can soften such people...he is definitely working on my heart. I allowed the power of a hard heart to enter my life and it has taken its toll...God wants much more from us than a hard heart. HIs day is on the way...this is clear. "Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Mark 8:17
Holy crap if you say "Hard Heart" one more time I am going to kick you in the eyeball. Also (sorry in advance, my months worth of trolling here) FiretrUCK your religious rhetoric you foolish bedlamite. "Oooh, God helps me soften my heart! He's like a marinade!"
As a single mother of one living with my parents and making minimum wage at a grocery store I must say that it is pretty easy to live health and satisfied on $30 a week. I too see many black peopl ein fancy cars and clothes shopping in the grocvery store I work at with a huge amount of food stamps. I shop at Goodwill, drive a decent car that I pay for, pay daycare costs and all I get is money for food stamps because I'm not black. I've learned to shop wisely at the beginning of the month and then budget for other things throught the rest of the month. Do I always buy the most important things with my EBT card, NO, BUT I do know that once that money is gone... It's gone. As for the person who posted about making 300K a year and having to pay $100 dollars for an oil change on a Mercedes.. MUST BE NICE... I work my butt off for minimum wage and have to do my oil changes myself. You should be thankful that you have the income to afford those things. I am college educated with a degree in healthcare and should be making more than I do, but I swallowed my pride and took a job so that I'm not living off the system entirely... Be thankful for what you have and if you need to complain about the simple pleasures in life trying living poor for one week...
Must have been one of those phoenix online degrees in health care management... even CNAs who dont need a degree get paid more than minimum wage.
Wow. You should be nominated for sainthood.
Btw, most people on welfare are WHITE.
Strictly going by the numbers, you are correct. When you go by percentages, more blacks are on welfare.
Shame on you for bringing race into this. We all know and have seen offenders and they come in all shapes and colors. Not all of them look hungry and not all of them are black. SHAME ON YOU! Worry about the situation you are in and not about what cars black people are driving. Be lucky you have the luxury of living under your parents roof and not on the streets. Take the time to figure out why you are making minimum wage at a grocery store (you must be working at the wrong grocery store) when you have a "degree" which I'm pretty sure you mean "certificate" or "license".
I'll bring race into this since I was asked by my caseworker if I was African American and told that minorities qualify for a different rate in my state. And NO I didn't go to the University of Phoenix and I don't have a license or certificate anymore. Yes, I could work as a CNa or a medical assistant, which I have "certification" in, but I also have a 4 year degree in nutrition... I work at a grovery store because of EVERY job I applied for, they called me back and I'm not going to turn down a job because it's easier to collect a check from the governement than it is to work. I actually enjoy my job. We are all allowed to state our own opinions on the economy and on what we think is right or wrong and no one in my opinion is right or wrong when it comes to politics and religion and all that... The simple fact is that some races are given priorities over others... Working in healthcare for several years I saw many people get their bills erased because they were not white and didn't have insurance where I had to wait until I had a child and 70K in medical debt before the state insured me... Whether we agree with someone's choices to buy junk food with food stamps or not, the only point I was making is that right now jobs suck, get help if you can, be grateful for any help you do get beause for some of those people.. They're too poor to afford things on their own and make too much to qualify for assistance... And I will never feel shame for bring race up... Americans do it EVERYDAY when they talk about the first BLACK president...
Why did you have a baby if you couldn't afford one?
Are we assuming that the parents aren't spending their food stamps on alcohol and cigarettes? I have seen both purchased with food stamps. I think there are people out there who genuinely need assistance feeding their kids, but there needs to be more oversight to stop people from abusing the system.
I understand your point, but I'm pretty sure you cannot purchase those things with food stamps. Now, as for the $40 in their pockets that they COULD have spent of food if they didn't have food stamps...
You can NOT purchase alcohol or cigarettes with "food stamps". What you see are people paying with cash for those items. You also can NOT purchase items such as soap, laundry detergent, and paper goods.
You cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes with food stamps.
You can purchase non food items with TANF benefits,which are placed on the same EBT card in a separate account. This can be used to purchase whatever they want.
I've been to a liquor store where it was well known that the owner would allow people to buy non food items with the EBT card. There are dirty people out there, I'm pretty sure there are more like him around.
And here in California there is a problem with people pulling money of their EBT cards at Casinos and they are trying to stop this from happening. Crazy.
People are really showing their ignorance in their comments. They are also outing themselves as liars.
No you have not seen people sell some of their food stamps for cash. It has been many years since any state distributed paper food stamps. They are on debit cards now. It is hard to sell a part of a debit card.
It is also highly unlikely that you have seen anyone purchase non-food items with food stamps. One of the advantages of using debit cards, for the government, is that they can make it so they only work for food purchases. I have seen a public assistance card be rejected at the register because the person was attempting to buy food and had one non-food item rang up. They had to pay for that separately for their card to work.
It's so nice that you want to have faith in these people, but the transaction is simplier than you think. Rarely are you going to see another person hand cash to the food stamp recepient at the check out, but it happens every day. You agree to trade food stamps benefits for cash for twice the dollar amount. $50 for $25 cash. The person goes shopping with the receipent and the card gets swiped. Or some will just let them take the card to the store and bring it back to them. Anyone can use that card..they just need to know the PIN#.
Are you kidding? It's easier now that all they have to do is give you a pin number. I wont say too much but it happens more than you think and they place of choice to go is Costco since they don't not ask to see they card or ID. Self Check out also makes this easier. At my neighborhood SaveMart they have a sign posted that you can only get $200 cash back from EBT. My husband saw a girl buy a pack of gum and get $100 cash back.
Look on craigslist under baby and kids, all of that formula for sale was bought with WIC vouchers. People get WIC, breasfeed and sell the formula. I may not live this type of life but I know of plenty of people who do and some of them are upper middle class people buying $150 worth of food stamps for $75 a month. Go to the butcher and someone will be standing outside offering to buy you meat for cash. I've been tempted to take up the offer but I don't want to take from the kids or end up in jail.
I wish I could say that I live in inner city but I live in Northern California in a surburban neighborhood. Its easy to not notice it if you don't know how this stuff works.
I buy food for my household of 5. I have budgeted $110 a week, which is $22.00 per person per week, or $3.14 per person per day. I do not qualify for any state assistance. We went from 2 person income to a 1 person income. I make decent money, but it is not enough to cover the car payment, mortgage etc, that we got ourselves into prior to becoming a 1 income household.
Got a kick out of this report! Thanks for doing it! I survive off of roughly $30 a week or less. I do however get free lunch M,W,F. $30 a week is definitely not living extravagantly, but i think it is getting pretty close to the basic subsistence mark.
I've been through some really, really tough times without food stamps. Here are my suggestions: Try an egg for breakfast. Eggs are not that expensive, and a dozen will last you nearly two weeks. They keep you satisfied much longer than farina for breakfast. Use chicken thighs instead of breasts–they are much cheaper and have a lot of meat on the bone for the price. I didn't ever buy broccoli when I was poor–too expensive. Generic canned peas or green beans, or even canned spinach would have had to do. That bread in the PB&J is certainly not the cheapest bread–it is a higher-priced variety that poor folks would not be able to afford. Make your own vegetable soup with canned tomatoes and chopped carrots, celery, onions, a chopped potato, and a few spices. It's filling and will last several meals. Add some chopped meat if you have it–a few bites of stewing beef (if cooked long enough to be tender) will work well, or a few bites of cooked chicken. Leave off the espresso–unnecessary. A baked sweet potato makes a very filling lunch–you can fix it in just a few minutes in the microwave, and they are very good for you. That Splenda is laughable! It is more expensive than the saccharin sweeteners or even aspartame, and would be a luxury.
I was guessing that the Splenda packet was probably something laying around the house, not something that was purchased.
I don't think this article intended to speak about what a person already had "lying around," but on what they could afford with a particular amount of money.
I have been behind the counter the first of the month for 4 & 1/2 years and I can tell you that people with foodstamps buy whatever they can get with that card. They do not care if it's what they should be buying or not. Mostly tons of junk food gets bought and sodas to rot their teeth out. Then meat, beans and rice. You don't see too many healthy choices being made either. They load up their buggies full to the top of mostly junk. So I would change your title of this article cause your aren't living a food stamp diet. And when a person gets over 500 a month on their foodstamp card how do you think they are only living on $30 a month?
I have been on the food stamp diet for 3 weeks now, and am very ill. I'm confused, am I supposed to soak the food stamps in water before eating them?
I think you should try boiling them into a soup. Add welfare checks and Medicaid for a well balanced meal!
Why do I get the feeling you are some sort of food snob who is attempting to enlighten all of us poor folk on how thrifty you can get yourself to be? Good for you Missy...
In the real world, where I live, $30 will feed one person, but those who are on 'food stamps', which by the way is an antiquated term, are buying for more than one person, generally two to three kids, and two three adults. Try doing that on $30 and try drinking tap water for longer than a week. Also did you happen to put salt, pepper or any other spice or condiment on your meals, that may put you over $30, smart guy.
And yes, I do know what I'm talking about. My family had to be on 'food stamps' when I was younger. Because of that we had to supplement feeding two adults, two kids and a dog by getting 'government cheese' and cans of vegetables from the Salvation Army.
Your story is educationally and dang near morally bankrupt, It's certainly empty of entertainment value.
Why is my comment awaiting moderation? Because I criticized your arrogant 'article'?
Because you are a fuking angry nitwit, that's why.
There's a bug in the software. Your content is not being judged ... at least not by CNN.
Comment moderation holds aren't personal – it's all the software. Sometimes if certain words are used or someone posts a lot, quickly, it triggers a hold. Software can't tell if the comment is pro or con. Believe me - we're trying to figure out the alchemy. Even the mods get moderated.
I think food stamps should be realigned to be more like WIC checks. The WIC checks are limited to healthful foods. If your kids are 2-5, you're limited to 1% of skim milk. You can only buy low-sugar cereals. You get a certain amount for fruits and veggies–although no potatoes nor fruit canned in syrup. Beans, peanut butter, etc. Perhaps a good portion of the food stamp money could be allocated to predetermined staples–with a smaller portion (20-25%) for the person's choice. It would limit the junk that people can afford. Back when my husband was a resident, we were grateful for our WIC checks. They helped us to survive with healthful foods. We couldn't afford to eat out at all–everything was made at home. And we ate healthier than when we had more money. There are good programs out there, that make a difference. It's a shame that some people abuse them.
What's wrong with potatoes? They're a great source of carbs, potassium, and soluble fibers. Baked, boiled, or steamed potatoes are very healthy. It's the french fries, the mashed potatoes with heavy cream and deep-fried hash browns that are unhealthy.
Any kind of food can become unhealthy if you deep fry it and slather on a cup of cream. It's how you prepare it.
I always find these challenges disingenuous. People are not paid food stamps by the week. They get paid by the month. Having lived very poor for large periods of my life, shopping with $120 to last a month is completely different than shopping with just $30 for a week. $120 allows you to buy certain things in bulk at cheaper rates and do the majority of your shopping at the beginning of the month, budgeting a little each week left over for perishables.
Also, people who do these silly "live on food stamps" projects always assume that they must start from a completely empty kitchen which is also not the reality of receiving food stamps. When you sign up for assistance the salt, pepper, baking soda and odd can of garbanzo beans or pumpkin does not just suddenly vanish from your kitchen. In my experience, unless a person has been homeless there is almost always some sort of base of staples already available to work with.
Additionally, a person qualifying for SNAP generally also qualifies for the food bank, WIC and numerous charity pantries. They also don't spend only SNAP assistance on food. You spend some of the money your earn on food as well.
All of these avenues add up to a situation that, while it requires budgeting, restraint and some work, is not nearly as miserable as made out by rich folks with nothing better to do but set up a purposefully draconian scenerio that has little to nothing in common with actually surviving on assistance while earning a low income or being on disability.
Bravo! The WIC program is a wonderful example of how to curb abuse and/or lack of food-planning knowledge. The grocery stores in my area have even started grouping WIC packs of allowable fresh vegetables and fruits in easy-to-grab containers so there's no weighing issues.
I am in total agreement with you.
You are absolutely correct. I see families shopping with food stamps/EBT at the beginnning of the month and they buy everything in bulk. And although there may be a few unhealthy snack-ish items thrown in, for the most part they're buying big packs of meat, dry beans, dry cereal, rice, fruit, condensed juice–items that will sustain a family until the next month. If the same monthly benefit were broken down into weekly increments, there's no way it would be possible to purchase the same items.
fact, the people on food stamps eat better than someone who wokrds 40 a week @ 15dollars an hour.
I eat noddles kids mom eats steak, with multiple kids with different dads thanks VA
you got that right pal, a lot of people on food stamps eat very very well, it gives the people who really need it a bad rap..
get serious, making 15$ an hour is much than trying to buy groceries for 120$ a month. maybe you just dont know how to manage your money. I make 15$ an hour, eat well, pay rent, internet and utilities and still save.
I too make $15 an hour and not only do I eat well, so does my son (for whom I receive no financial support). Some of you people should save that whine for your cheese.
Exactly..... they eat better than I do. I am single working 2 jobs, and barely surviving...so what ever blah blah...go into the Grocery Store on Food Stamp day and carts are over flowing and then they go load the the Groceries that you and I paid for and put them in their new cars.... not sure about you all but makes me very anger!!
You said it. I'm on the "working 40 hours a week for $15/hour" plan too. If I splurge on a steak, it's from that clearance section of the meat aisle because it's getting old, so they mark it down thirty percent. I then slice it thin into stroganoff or something similar so it will last several days and at least I get an ounce or two of protein a day. I think maybe once this year I bought an actual steak and ate it without turning it into something else.
thank you eans right now i am eating noodles for my lunch and bring some tap water and i am working 40 hours a wk
I used to shop at a store where many people bought with food stamps. I never saw anyone buy anything healthy. The most appalling was a lady with a newborn. She had a basket with soda, funyuns, eggs and milk. When she didn't have enough left to pay, she set aside the milk and eggs.
Monday – breakfast: sandwich, water – $1, lunch: hamburger, water – $1. dinner: hamburger, salad, water: $2 =$4/day.
Tuesday – Sunday: repeat, different fast food restaurant dollar menu each day. Total: $29.96 including tax.
And when you're still hungry and have succeed only in wetting your appetite? $ amounts are only 1/2 the battle, you also need to actually fill that pit in your stomach, otherwise you'd do better to go hungry and save your money and a no nutrition snack from a $1 menu at some fast food joint isn't going to cut it. Better to spend $12 twice a week ($24 + tax) and get 2 pots of chili.
Sadly, those dollar menus serve the worst possible food and lead to obesity. I never thought I'd see an America where people were forced to either eat unhealthy food, or starve. Thanks, Corporations.
they are not force to eat u healthy food thay need to learn to cook and leave the fast food restaurants
Health care bill after three months = $30,000
Seven years ago, an upbeat, detailed article "Meeting the Food Stamp Challenge with Local Foods" was published by Better Times Almanac. That experience seemed much more tolerable, nutritious and tasty than this CNN reporter's attempt. Below is a snapshot of the results, and here's a link to the article which includes recipes, menus for the week, detailed cost analysis and more: http://www.bettertimesinfo.org/foodchallenge.htm
Total spent on food for week: $60.43
Food stamp allowance, 2 people 1 week $61.87
amount under budget $1.44
Food cost average amount per day $8.63
amount bought from farmers $44.18
amount from supermarket $16.80
percent of local foods 73%
percent of supermarket foods 28%
Besides coming in under budget, we have at least 2 more meals of leftovers in the fridge. We have apple pie filling in the freezer for later. The detailed table, showing the meals, ingredients, and prices, is at http://www.bettertimesinfo.org/challengetable.htm .
Another big problem is the disgustingly low numbers of people who actually know how to cook. I used to work for a public health department and they had to have classes to teach a lot of the low income people how to cook. They honestly did not know how to cook ANYTHING unless it was overpriced, oversalted garbage like microwaveable pizza, canned soup, chicken nuggets, or hamburger helper. Of course, I know a lot of people who aren't on food stamps who can only cook this c-r-a-p too...
Because of my daughter's auto accident, I take care of her at home. There weren't any facility for young adults, just nursing homes. Now I have food stamps and appreciate them, but I do cut coupons and watch for sales and stock up. Sometimes the things on sale have more carbs than needed, but my point is if the present First lady is concerned about good nutrition, simply help provide programs for that. Maybe the funds to grow part of your food in pots or raised beds, or have local farmers take food stamps or something else to promote local food. If the government will help the local farmers to gain profits to support their families, it is a win win system . I have family that go to the local far markets and donate food to us. The local orchards could use more funding and support from the government as well as the community. Maybe also the community can come up with donated foods, as some are doing, as well as commonities etc. genia from Missouri the medicaid system here and any medical benefits for caregivers or family members ias zero in Missouri, but thank God we still have foodstamps.
Thank you for sharing. As someone that has always felt it was right to support those in need, I have become more and more cynical regarding those that abuse the system, or fail to use it wisely. YOU, as far as I can tell from what you've written, are one of the people that I am proud to help out with my tax dollars. Good luck to you.
aww genia i'm so sorry. i too live in MO and see how the Medicaid system works, or should i say doesn't work. my mother was disabled due to illness last year and we couldn't get her on it. i work at a hospital where i have seen illegals come in on Medicaid to have their babies and to come to the ER for a common cold driving brand new HD edition trucks, wearing brand name clothing. it is so sad. i hope everything works out and communities do need to step up and help out more. the government doesn't want to take care of any one but themselves and the illegals.
Unfortunately the government will not work with local farmers, since the 4 corporations that provide our entire food supply control our government with their lobbyists. Those 4 corporations HATE local farmers and want them gone. They don't want that kind of competition.
I wonder why this particular comment is awaiting moderation, but none of my other ones were.
Having been on food stamps I appreciate that someone is speaking out about it. I had kids to feed and myself. There were many times that I had to go hungry in order for my children to eat. It was harder during the summer when they were home to be hungry and demand snacks 24/7 and I couldn't just sign them up for any summer activities since we didn't have the money. My daughter will eat just about anything you give her, but my son has always been a picky eater and it shows since he's so skinny compared to my daughter who is average sized. If I actually had the money I'd probably be buying him those kids nutrition drinks to make up the difference but those are so pricey it would have meant going without meals for three or four days. And the stuff that you can afford on food stamps that goes a long way for kids and the rest of your family isn't always healthy. Then you have to keep in mind spoiling or rotting, so a lot of the time I just don't buy fruits or veggies. Especially since another trip to the store could mean extra gas costs. So the stuff I buy that lasts usually is so full of calories and sodium that even if I skip a meal I gain weight. I'm not talking about chips or ice cream, I'm talking about mac and cheese or spaghettios. My youngest was still on WIC at the time and in our state WIC still didn't give you bread, fruits, or vegetables. If they had it would have helped a lot more. They do now but even then it's still not enough.
Like many others responding, I've worked all my life, as did my parents. It helped me to realize my place in society and how to realize my dreams. Many of us have a conservative view about food stamps and welfare in general. If you don't have a true understanding it means, "if it was me". We all have really swell ideas about the American dream. So here I am, near the end of life because healthcare is nearly unaffordable. On the way "out" I can think of all the healthy food that I had to shove down my throat instead of the twinkies I preferred so I can say "Hey! Look at me. I ate like America expected me to as a food stamp recipient. Wish I'd had some Twinkies though, gasp".
Espresso?!? Heck no. Store-brand coffee brewed extra strength!
Yes Richard, let me guess.. you are a Republican
and thank god for that
PS regarding the article – HOW were you able to afford Splenda on $30 a week budget? That is expensive. I think you need to substitute "farina" for "grits", and I know a lot of southern cooks who could give you some hints on how to eat on $30 a week, Honey...I should know, I raised 5 children on good old fashioned southern cooking. And yes, it was healthy. A whole chicken can go a long way if you know what to do with it and if you know how to make homemade dishes. LOL!
Since he mentioned a packet of Splenda, I was guessing it was something laying around the house – maybe from a previous purchase of coffee at a coffee shop or something.
My wife and I live on 280K-300k a year. We have a large house, a boat, and four cars. We probably spend around 800/week including eating out, a bit more if you include the membership to our private club. Not sure what its like to eat on 30 dollars per week, but I don't think that I would be interested in trying. Even with an okay income we have lots of expenses for our house and cars. For example an oil change on our Mercedes is over 100 dollars. All I am saying is that we all have different incomes and different expenses. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. You could have always forgone an hour of tv to work more
Richard – I just had to say something after reading your post. I, like you, make a lot of money and have the trappings of a very good life (while I won't be so boorish as to post online what I have and what I make, but I assure you that it's significantly more than what you have indicated). I enjoy the fruits of my hard work and success.
However, in contrast to you, I have a great degree of humility and self-perspective, and I appreciate what I have. It is totally ludicrous to simplify life's equation to be: "work harder, and you won't starve". Life is not that simple. There are a great many people who just aren't as lucky as you and I have been. Some people also don't have the skill/intelligence to be able to make the same living as you do – and they rely on whatever work they can find... which often is not enough to make ends meet. Add to that the growing number of Americans who had been working, but are caught up in the economic turmoil of unemployment. Now, you've got even more people struggling to make ends meet.
I fully agree that there are cases of people just being lazy, and living on whatever they can get as a handout, rather than getting up and making a better life for themselves. But, there are many fold more cases of people that didn't have luck smile upon them, or that don't have the skills and ability to earn lots of money, and they have to supplement with whatever they can get. To think otherwise, much less say it, is simply mean-spirited and utterly lacking in any human compassion. Maybe, instead of smugly spouting out judgement of nameless and faceless masses, you might try to lend some of your intelligent insights into coming up with approaches to deal with the problems of unemployment, homelessness and hunger in America. It might offer a sense of human satisfaction that even beats indifferent indigestion while sucking down martinis on your boat.
Very well put.
congrats on your success. Since you are making more then me, I would assume that you spend more on yourself then I spend on myself, or you save it. In either case you are creating a great disparity between yourself and the poor then I am. So although you may not post anything online, you are creating great inequality in the country then me. I am simply saying how it is, while you try to hide behind compassion, while hording money for yourself. If you really believe in compassion then give away your money, otherwise all you are saying is that you car, but are not willing to give any of your own money to help. And don't give me that crap that you donate a few dollars to charity, as I am sure it is minimal compared to your income/wealth
To think otherwise, much less say it, is simply mean-spirited and utterly lacking in any human compassion. Maybe, instead of smugly spouting out judgement of nameless and faceless masses, you might try to lend some of your intelligent insights into coming up with approaches to deal with the problems of unemployment, homelessness and hunger in America.
If you are planning on living in America for all of the next 20 years, I'd brush up on those foraging skills.
Just saying, bro.
richard – you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Men and women who are accepting these food stamps generally really need them. I'm so sorry that your Mercedes oil change costs so much. What a tragedy. I'm curious to know what kind of house you grew up in – if you were given the chances to excel, grow, and gain. Many children who grow up in poor homes aren't given those same opportunities. And while a lot of them DO succeed, it's much more difficult. Without any support from the home, whether it be emotionally or financially, it's a very difficult and long process to get out of the situation they are in. How dare you accuse people of being lazy just because they are in a tough spot. Are you kidding me?
Its not a tragedy, just an inconvenience, thank you for your concern
Wow...you are unbelievably out of touch with the realities of life for the vast majority of people. Please go back to your club, enjoy your money, and leave those of us actually living in the real world to deal with this nightmare. We're the ones who understand what's going on, not you.
Richy rich, you must have a goverment job and be a dem-o-rat, I'm sure
There is something seriously wrong with you.
So, Richard, do you think the people on Wall Street worked hard to make all their money? They 'worked hard' at screwing up our entire economy, but I can guarantee that they didn't work harder than a factory worker, firefighter or teacher.
The Wall Street people don't even make anything! They just trade, invest, and ponzi scheme their way through life, and they're all millionaires and billionaires. Your 'work hard' theory doesn't carry any weight in the real world.
Mayann – I respect your attempt, and see that you have learned some lessons. However you leave out way to many factors. Most who are on food stamps do have other income. And with time those "in the system" learn to work it quite well in fact. I'm a social worker, who has been working with multiple populations for close to 30 years. When on a budget like this it is hard to do it for just one week. Staples last longer. Buy a 10lb bag of rice, this will last substantially longer than a week. Instead of buying a chicken breast or two, at usually more than $2.00 a lb, get a whole chicken for $0.87 a lb. Use the breast for one meal, thighs for another, legs, wings, back, neck, giblets etc to make a hearty soup with some veggies and rice and there is another meal or more. People lived on a lot more than that proportionally in the past. And should be doing so today as well.
you know so little about the working of the economy that I can not even begin to explain it to you. What I will say is, thank you for making us on wall street rich.
My wife and I live on a BAJILLION DOLLARS a year. We have a castle, 4 mansions, a yacht, 27 cars, and a batmobile. We probably spend around $12,050.03/week including eating out at Le Schnobb, a bit more if you include the membership to our private club where they wash our balls with warm towels and we dine off the backs of the poor. Not sure what its like to eat on 30 dollars per week, but I don't think that I would be interested in trying. In fact I'm bored by the concept while I type this on my solid-gold toilet. Even with an okay income we have lots of expenses for our house, cars, and mexicans. For example an oil change on our Mercedes is over 100 dollars because I'm not just rich, I'm mentally disabled and I don't know how to change oil on a car. All I am saying is that we all have different incomes and different expenses. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. I bet you're on CNN.com in the middle of the day posting comments. I don't do stuff like that, so money trees pop-up around my yard. Finding that leprechaun didn't hurt, either.
Chucko, I do not believe you have a billion dollars.
I am Elmer J. Fudd, Miwonaire. I own a mansion and a wacht.
They should run the food stamp program the same way they run WIC. On WIC, only specific , nutritious food are allowed and these foods are usually identified as you go down the aisles.
Great idea, except then you'd have the problem of prices. The 'best' foods are also more expensive. A pot of beans may not be as good for you as a bunch of veggies, but it will definitely go further for the price.
I agree. Would reduce Medicaid costs as well.
I actually agree with this, though I don't generally like restrictions on people's choices. My family was on food stamps for over a year, my husband and I were both unemployed with a new baby. I had spent years watching in frustration as people used food stamps to buy processed packaged food, that while cheap, isn't really less expensive than homemade if you take the time to shop well. I did have the experience though, several times at the cashier of being asked, "can you buy that with food stamps? I never knew that!" in response to my cart of grains, beans, veggies etc.
I'm a single male and make an above standard of living. I routinely only spend 30-35 a week on groceries. The trick is to go where the food is cheapest, usually the local asian markets in my city. Also, I haven't eaten lunch or breakfast in years, so it's not really a big discomfort for me to only eat 1 meal a day, as that's what I'm used to. I do feel for people who have to live this way as opposed to do it by choice. Mostly, I do it because I don't really ever get hungry and I know that if I want I have the money to splurge if I so choose.
I agree one meal is plenty for me and I am a college student. If I am studying a lot I may just eat a piece of fruit or bread. Americans get brainwashed into thinking you need three meals. It actually is too much and a person lives longer on little bit of food.
This article is a joke, Having an espresso everyday and usually 2? No one trying to live on a tight budget would waste their money on that, try getting a good night sleep if you can't stay awake.
I live perfectly fine off of 30$ a week for food. Cereal or waffles for breakfast. For lunch it is usually beans w/ tortillas, leftovers, salad or sandwhiches. That leaves me available to eat anything I want to make for dinner. If you don't eat out, 30$ a week is easy to buy food for.
Add my name to the list of people who have never seen someone on food stamps eat this healthy. Anytime they come through the walgreens I work at, they buy energy drinks, pop, and junk food.
That's because Walgreen's isn't a grocery store.
BIG problem CNN, $30 a week, is what, $120 a month...the lowest ammount that a single person can get is $200 in Georgia, and each kid increases that ammount. I own a store, and Ive seen black families driving Escalades come into my store, and they have almost $1200 in Food stamps, plus Welfare and TANF. So...Where are you getting this $30 a week BS ammount from?
. . . and how many of them own cell phones, computer games and flat-screen televisions?
Poor people are not allowed to have TVs or cellphones? Oh I get it, you watch too much FOX with their stupid studies, "96% of poor people households have fridges! CALL THE NATIONAL GUARD!"
I totally agree. I hate going to the Grocery store right after the 1st of the month in MS. Carts full of steak, potatos, frozen meals. My wife and I both work and we can't afford to eat like they do!! Then they always have a wad of cash to pay for thier beer and cigs, then go get in thier fancy car to thier goverment housing. My wife works for a doctors office and they come in all the time to get the kids on disability because they have slight asthma.
I'm a single mother with only ONE child, full time job, no child support. I make too much money for assistance! A friend of mine who doesn't work NEVER had to worry about food! I, on the other hand, scrimped and saved just to buy enough food for my child and myself for two weeks! NOT FAIR! But, whatever. I'm proud of the hard work I've done. To the rest of the people who live off welfare with no intention of getting off, Thanks for putting my tax dollars at work so those of us who NEED it, can't use it. Those who are on it and NEED it, keep your head up! It will get better!
Actually $200 is the maximum a single person can receive. It decreases based on income. It's a federal program, so it's the same across the country.
Curiously, the ones who are "struggling" on $30 a week in Food Stamps, still pay around $40 a month for internet (and own a computer), $ 45 or more a month for cell phone(s) and of course the kids have xbox's and PS3's? What is wrong with this picture, America? The taxpayers are mad because our tax dollars are not being spent to nourish our children, but to buy junk. Stop the spending, and go back to common sense, America...As long as there is "free" anything from the government, there will be no improvement and our citizens will not have the incentive to better themselves...We as a "society" will reap what we sow...
Interesting. Where are you getting this information from??? Is it a credible source or are you making things up or assuming?
That and they are paying $100/mo or more to feed the dogs. I actually know a person (not on food stamps) that buys high-quality pet food yet feeds her kids fast food almost every meal. Some people have issues with logic.
No it's true someone at work ridicules me b/c they have cable tv and I do not. He also has a cell phone, internet, bmw, his kids eat at school for free...and he has ebt/snap. He also recently purchased a home and is doing renovations on it. Sometimes I feel like a sucker for working so hard. He's the one who told me what ebt was, I didn't know what it was. Apparently you can get an ebt card at a local swap meet...
So poor people are not allowed to have internet or tv? or Xboxes? Do you want them to live like in 3rd world countries? Aren't you glad that America being the richest country in the world doesn't have 3rd world problems?
Holly, You're list is a bit OFF... You forgot cigarettes and alchohol.
Oh, please, give me a break. I was in the grocery store in line behind a young, very overweight woman with her school age kid. You should have seen all the GARBAGE food she was buying! She paid for the whole order with food stamps. I was appalled. Seriously, the types of food people on food stamps can buy should be restricted to healthy, nutritious items. Maybe then, it would help to make a dent in the national obesity epidemic. Don't make me hold my breath....
I was also floored one afternoon while in line behind a family purchasing food at a grocery store. The ENTIRE belt was stacked (3 high in some cases) with steaks. There were a few other items, no vegetables etc. The family was also buying medication – can't say for what exactly, but I have my theories. Between the two purchases there was over $350. The family needed to split the bill between the food and the prescriptions so they could pay for them with different gov't cards. It was just one family, but it's an issue that I just found utterly grotesque and is repeated to some degree all over the country.
My wife and I live on 280K-300k a year. We have a large house, a boat, and four cars. We probably spend around 800/week including eating out, a bit more if you include the membership to our private club. Not sure what its like to eat on 30 dollars per week, but I don't think that I would be interested in trying. Even with an okay income we have lots of expenses for our house and cars. For example an oil change on our Mercedes is over 100 dollars. All I am saying is that we all have different incomes and different expenses. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. You could have always forgone an hour of tv to work more.
Very good! Now, get off mom's computer and go clean your room before she gets home, you little turd!
Who did you and your wife give campaign contributions to?
gop of course
Hey Richard, you should think about the people in this world who have worked hard, but may have encountered some unexpected tough times. Not all people on food stamps have been on them for their entire life. For example, there are those individuals who may have been laid off and haven't been able to find work. Or there are some, like myself, that go through messy divorces and have to sign up for assistance to take care of the family. I was on food stamps for 6 months, a very humbling experience at the time, but one that I would not change for the world. The experience made me cherish having a stable job and income. The expenses you list are not neccessities, they are what you and your family have chosen to sign up for. If you cut down to the necessities (keep your house, sell 2 cars and your boat, take the kids out of their costly activities) then you will have a true cost of living for your family. Americans are extremely wasteful, this is a known fact. Be careful, because karma exists. One day, you may wake up and discover you too may need to downsize. Be grateful and recognize your fortunes as blessings.
I hope things are better for you! I loved your statement. You've made EXCELLENT points. The truth is, not many on welfare are like you, who want to get off and it's a sad situation, because those who take advantage of it, give the rest a bad name. Keep your head up and enjoy your family and life. I'm proud of you!
So sick of this argument. Not everyone that is rich got there because they worked harder than everyone else and not everyone that is poor is that way because they don't work hard. Yes, the system enables some people, but helps a lot that couldn't make it any other way (and not because they are lazy or don't work hard).
That being said, having been on food stamps before you get way more than $30 a week. We actually spend less on food and things are tighter now that I am in a full time job compared to when we were using food stamps. The amount you get per month can definitely be decreased and there should be restrictions on the kinds of food you can purchase with them.
Oh, and just so nobody jumps on me with these "well what else were you spending money on" arguments, we don't have cable (nope not even basic), we have one car, I take public transportation to work, and we tightly budget everything, so food stamps were a real life saver for our family.
Hopefully someday I will be as comfortable as Richard here, but hopefully I won't complain about oil changes on my Mercedes and how it's so hard to live on my 300K and say ignorant things like poor people just need to suck it up and work harder.
I am not saying poor people should work hard, I could care less if they do. But don't complain about being poor.
There is not necessarily a correlation between how hard one works during their life and how "successful" they become. Most people born into a lower socioeconomic situation will not have the oppurtunity to achieve 300k/yr income, own a boat, and drive a mercedes. Of course there are exceptions to this but I think most people would agree that some people have better oppurtunities than others to become successful in life. I find your commentary somewhat arrogant to be honest; I know a lot of people who struggle to get by and believe its not because they do not work hard.
Oh look at me everyone! I'm rich and you're not!
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