Previously, our very own CNN producer Sheila Steffen shopped for a week's worth of groceries for $30 - the amount which would be allotted by food stamps.
Now, Washington D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is one of a dozen democratic Congressmen taking part in a food stamp challenge organized by various religious groups. The participants are allowed to spend no more than $31.50 a week. That comes to $4.50 a day. The objective is for lawmakers to see for themselves how it feels to live on a limited food budget.
The National Food Stamp Challenge comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill ponder spending cuts that could adversely affect programs that assist the poor and elderly.
Previously: The food stamp challenge: eating on $30 a week | Could you live on $30 a week? | Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America
I don't know where these figures come from. My granddaughter gets $78 a month in food stamps. $78 a MONTH. Could YOU eat for $78 a month??? (She works at McD...gets 20 hours a week @ minimum wage.)
I have lived off of Food Stamps for a time. It was never enough even when I used coupons, Walmart price match (where many times Walmart managers and cashiers refused to do the Walmart price match because I was using food stamps or WIC.) I used and use the lowest priced food in the rawest state possible. When you are sick and have a special diet and when you don't have transportation to the lowest priced stores then you loose the way too cook it this becomes almost impossible.
However there was times that I got great deals chicken legs for .25 cents a pd, pork chops and pork roast for 1.00 pd. I stocked my little fridges little freezer and used the meat very carefully.
I was able to get dryed beans several times for .50 cents to .75 cents a pd many times locally it was 1.20 or more a pd for beans. I soaked beans and ate them 2x a week.
Now I delivered a baby at 38 weeks, my nutrition was compromised and I am now out of work for 6-10 weeks on a wound vac with a c section split open. Now this is with WIC and Food Stamps for 6 mths out of my pregnancy. (I lost food stamps 2 mths before I gave birth because I made to much money.) This means that I had only the budget I had for my self. Which was aprx 50 dollars a week. So my food budget was cut in half. Now I have to reapply for food stamps and it will take several weeks to find out if I qualify again. Trying to heal a major wound and breast feed a baby born early with issues and no money. This is a challenge.
With Food Banks and Social Services stretched to the limit any help given is a blessing but it is hard to live. I know I can make it when I go back to work. Now I just have to make it 6 weeks with no saving and rent due (for 2 mths ) and the car payment , car insurance, food, and other things we need. Even with applying for emergency assistance it will be weeks to find out if I qualify.
I feel for the folks who have to use Food Stamps for long term. My veiw is that if you are applying for Food Stamps you need them. If you have a child and apply for help you should get it. I love making it on my own but that is why I pay taxes for the times I need help. This is also why I pay taxes for when My fellow American needs help.
I dunno. $30/week per person doesn't sound too bad, assuming have a kitchen, and time/ability to cook and shop. As a rough thought, there is all sorts of rather high-quality meat (that you shouldn't be buying if you're dependent on food stamps) in the $6/lb range, and 5lb of meat per week is more than anyone ought to eat. It'd take some effort, and there are "startup costs" if your kitchen is otherwise bare. If your usual lunch is a $10 gourmet spinach salad, it's not going to be easy to get used to. And doing all the work involved for one person is a pain, compared to cooking for a family (with n times the budget) But it shouldn't mean rice&beans for dinner every night and PB&J sandwiches for lunch, either. Nor mystery meat and hotdogs. Let's see: two chickens ($8), a dozen eggs($3), a pork chop or steak($3), a pound each of pasta ($1), rice ($1), carrots ($1), broccoli ($2), cheese ($4), onions ($1), greens ($2), loaf of bread ($3), gallon of milk ($4), bag of generic breakfast cereal ($5). That's $38 without shopping very hard, substantial meat every day, and leftovers.
There's something wrong with the anti-incentive to work, though.
I could live off of $30 a week easily – for one person. I could probably stretch that to two people. I know in Maryland people here get a lot more than $30 a week ... more than I would have budgeted. So it all depends where you live and how many people are in your family.
I easily feed my family of four on $100 per week. We eat oats, rice, quinoa as our grains, fresh veggies, fruits and dried legumes plus lean meat and fish. We use dairy products and eggs. I manage a tight budget, but it can be done with minimal effort.
WHAT ?? Have the "time" to cook? WHAT ? LOL !! Did you REALLY say THAT ??
Unemployment is actually below %5 for people with a 4 year degree. I honestly believe just because some one doesn't get an education whether its an actual degree or a trade and has to work at walMart or some other minimum wage job, who decides to have kids that the government should step in and subsidize their standard of living. I had to move over 3000 miles away to get a job making 45k a year in this economy. I decided to make the change and do it. If you don't get an education or learn a trade what do you expect? Some one to just hand you a 40k a year job with good hours and benefits? We need to cut food stamps, Section 8 and other assistance. It should not allow you to live any decent life on it. It should make you think every day that you should go out and get a job. USAjobs.gov Has thousands of jobs on it. Also checkout your state employment site. Yes most if not all those jobs require a 4 yr degree. Also if you are already on Government handouts and have another kid it should lower your benefits. Why do we give more money to people for making stupid decisions?
Could not agree with you more. This is a load of nonsense.
I think that food stamps should be regulated and the amount should be lowered. I work at a grocery store with over 50% of sales EBT and the items these people purchase is something my family doesn't even get to enjoy like 10 lbs. of crab legs with a few lbs. of shrimp and steak and carvel ice cream cake. People will take other people's cards and use them and exchange cash for whatever they spent on the other's EBT card. They also come and get ALL of the cash off the card that I provide them with the money I worked hard for, for them to spend on god knows what. I believe food stamps is good for people who actually need it not ones who don't work because EBT gives them more money. People in this country are so lazy and expect a handout from everyone. If the government could just spend 10 minutes and see what these people really buy and see that they pawn off their cards they would cut people's amounts in a heartbeat. Plus I've seen people with $500+ on the food portion of the card and $300+ on the cash side. Tell the working American's how that is fair.
Totally agree AND if you are that poor – here in Maryland you can get a free ride to college – at least a 2 year degree which provides a lot of trades, especially the medical field! No excuse (except for the elderly and those truly handicap)
You are ignorant and narrow-minded. Do you think that everyone on foodstamps said let me have babies, live life on a day to day struggle, and sit around and not work so I can get govt assistance? Do you think anyone coukld possibly live a half mediocre life this way? The answer is NO! Iam on unemployment, I always work, the economy is bad now its hard to even find a job in target. The amount of food stamps I get for me and my daughter last about 2 1/2 wks. Thats all I get. I live in NYC the cost of living is extremely inflated compared to middle America. When my unemployment runs out (which will be in a couple months) I will not have money to pay rent because this grand govt help you think people try and milk, only would give about $300 a month toward rent for a family of 2. Cheap rent in nY is $850 monthkly if your lucky enough to find it this low, and it probably wont be in a safe neighborhood, and will only have 1 room. So if I'm going looking for jobs and train fare costs $4.50 a day just for a round trip thats about $25 a week plus I still would need to find another $550va month just for shelter, then theres electricity about $60 month, gas, cable, phone and clothes and things for my daughter. Thats close to $1000 more dollars a month that I have to come up with every month once unemployments over. And you think we want to live like this! Its not living! Govt never gives you enough to live meagerly, forget about comfortably!! No one chooses to live like this, before you open your ignorant mouths, know what your talking about. No one can livealone on govt help. so if you think this is a choice your wrong. If no one will hire me, and unemployment runs out who is there to help me? Being a tax payer my whole life, dont you think if anyone deserves to use these benefits its someone like me? US is so quick to take care of other countries, why is there always a problem with helping their own? So I guess I need to resort to sellin drugs n such to support us because my own country is more willing to help immigrants an other countries, then to help their own!!
OK, I hear you. Now sell everything you own and take whatever money you have and buy a bus ticket OUT of New York and to a small town in the south or mid west. When you get there, ask a church for some help to get started and find a place to live and a job. You are NOT going to make it in New York EVER !! Now get going !!
I agree food stamps are for people that need help for a little while not to live on for life
No wonder California is a totally jacked up state.
Hi Jorge how ya doin. This clip was posted just for you.
You too DustaJude. This clip is just for you.
If people are able to get free groceries clipping coupons this shouldn't be much of an issue.
Miss Holmes-Norton may hold a seat in the House of Representatives, but she is a non-voting member of the chamber. She holds no sway. Most of the (very few) members of our congress who think about helping and care about the USA couldn't care less what Eleanor thinks. Still, it's good to see her try to eat on $31.50/week. She could afford to lose a bit around the waist...and hips...legs...etc. I have never once seen someone who used food stamps to pay for groceries (when they weren't buying booze with the stamps) who was anything less than morbidly obese.
You do know that people with lower incomes are more likely to be obese because they can't afford healthy food, right? Look at what's cheap in the grocery store, it's the processed fattening stuff like Kraft mac 'n cheese and hot dogs, not fish, chicken breast, and produce.
So, is this to prove that $31.50/week isn't enough? ...or is it to show that $31.50/week used to supplement a low paying job helps a lot? Time to understand that "assistance" isn't "subsistence." It's not about allowing people to sit on their butts and not work, but recognition that it's difficult to live on some low paying salaries. Our government gets it funds from people who do work and those funds are limited. $31.50 may not sound like much, but that's money directly out of the pocket of someone else who also has a family to feed, kids to educate, and a life they deserve through their efforts to support themselves. I'm not against "assistance" in some cases, but dead set against creating a culture of "subsistence" in which kids grow up knowing nothing else and continue the cycle of dependency on the government in order to survive.
Thank you. One of the bigger problems is that people who get food stamps now can buy anything they want with them. While many Americans live on a budget and try to be frugal, the hand out can encourage a "I didn't have to work for this money and can spend it however I want" attitude. There is such a fine line between assistance and subsistence, and finer one between freedom of choice and wanton waste of resources. I have never minded helping the disabled or elderly; I have a problem with supporting those who can work, but don't.
you do realize there aren't enough jobs right?
well said. here-here. we agree Cobra.
This will be a great way for twleve congressmen to learn why people should not have children before they can support them and why young people should put away money for old age. It is a political stunt, not an attempt to better the lives of their constituents or future generations. Foods stamps for six months and no longer.
No more subsidies for mismanaged banks, Big Oil, Southern tobacco or "gentleman farmers" with stale haybales on their land, rusty unused tractors overgrown with weeds and $30,000 bass boats in their barns either.
Our government hasn't been "for the people" in years, decades even. The US government is for the corporations. Subsidizing major corporation under the guise of helping our economy isn't going to go away until we start voting in (read: flush the toilet) politicians who will actually affect changes. Until then, become a CEO and assure yourself a voice in US gubmint.
The Evil Monster Corporation I work for employs thousdands of people. It seems to me that is the sort of thing we'd want to encourage and support. The cry-babies moping around Wall Street probably have never had a job to speak of, but if they'd put as much energy into being productive members of this society as they put into whining about it, they'd most likely end up working for a corporation at some point in their lives.
I meant Republican congressman because the article says 12 democratic congressman are trying this...
Well 1 in 4 kids is living in poverty, so its not their fault for being born. and the GOP wants to cut food stamps while sving the bush tax cuts, this figures. Who has money to put away today, there is milliions on unemployment and whats the GOP doing in the house, voting on a in god we trust affirmative that cost taxpayers over 200, 000, when its already been passed in the 1950s. , trying to look busy, maybe they should've put that money towards hungry kids. Jane.
food stamps no more than 6 months, you have to be kidding, some people now have been unemployed for 2 yrs and its no fault of their own. You want kids in this country to starve to death, well I guess you do. OWS GO. GO GO. we need more protesters to keep kids alive. Jane
this is news unless a Republican does it. The democrats already proved they support the poor. I wouldn't bet a Republican could do a $30/day food budget
That's because republicans have seen too many people ahead of them in line paying for steak and lobster with food stamps while the republican gets ramen noodles to save money.
You mean republicans who give you dirty looks and tell you that you're making too much money because you own a good house and nice cars when you shouldn't because you belong to a minority, like my new boss did to me. That's OK, the guy has had his share of run-ins with other working Joes where I work, I think they set him straight because he's real quiet now.
Whoa, 30 bucks a week? In that case, move to the deep south. I'm a college student who works part time at a grocery store, and 90% of the people who come in with food stamps have a food stamp balance of 500+ dollars a month. Sometimes I see balances in the 1000+ range. 1000 dollars a month is way over poverty level. And many times it will be a couple who both have their own separate food stamp cards... talk about cheating the system. Not surprising most of these people are obese. Government assistance needs to be regulated way more, not just "I'll take your word that you're a single mom and when your live-in boyfriend comes in I'll also take his word that he's a single dad."
I own a small grocery store in a very small southern town. I agree with Mouka. The food stamp recipients get hundreds of dollars per month. I have been approached many times about buying their foodstamps for a percentage so they can use the cash in other ways. I do not participate in this practice but there are other business owners in town who do. I even complained to the field representative who services our food stamp account and his response was, "It's not my problem. It is the job of the local law enforcement." I have observed the flagrant misuse of this "assistance." There is no check and balance in place. The applicants lie about there financial condition, their dependents to receive a free hand out. And, the majority of the purchases made from my store do not consist of good foods but, instead, soft drinks, chips and candy. There certainly needs to be a limited time period set for the assistance and I am all for the proposed program of drug and alcohol testing recipients.
and when a woman who actually is a single mother tells the truth on their application and to the interviewer, they are told they are not eligible for anything even though they make less than $400 a month. one lady even said the woman was the wrong color. i'm not lieing about that...it actually happened to my daughter who has 3 children under 5 at home.
I received food stamps in California for a few months after being laid off and before finding a new job. The job I was laid off from paid me the equivalent of about $15.32/hr (I was on salary). When applying for foodstamps, I was a single woman with no children living on my own, and they allowed me $400/mo, which seemed totally excessive to me. I ended up moving in with my parents and was able to feed all 3 of us on that amount each month (my contribution since I was fighting for my unemployment and had zero other income).
With the cost of food now, though I would say a more appropriate amount for a single person would be $50-$60/week... not $31 and change.
Andrea ... $400 a month food stamps in Cali for a single woman? Good gracious, no wonder Cali is going broke. I live in WA. state, am 69 yrs old, disaled, have my disabled 65yr. old bro living w/me. I get $164. a month food stamps, I just got a $5.00 raise effective last mo. Bro. gets $200., & doesn't spend all of his each b/c his needs are small ... tomato juice, coffee, creamer, his sweetner, cheese, bread, eggs, some fresh fruit, & various kinds of meats he buys at a local butcher shop. I don't cook a big meal every nite, either. Wow if we had $400 each a month we could eat lobster, cavier, & filet mignon every night for dinner. Not that we like that kind of food. Just say'n ...
I agree, it was a bit overkill. I no longer live in California. I miss places I used to go but I do not miss the state itself! It is a mess.
Yes, there is some fraud in the food stamp program, but the majority of those in it need it. I cannot believe the hatred I see in these comments. I hope none of you ever lose a job and are unable to find another one. I don't resent people getting food stamps, I resent mega agriculture companies getting government subsidies and tax breaks and I resent bailing out financial institutions who turn around and hand out huge bonuses. These are the real crooks. Also, many people do not know how to plan and cook nutritious meals any more. How many adults under 40 can cook like our mothers used to? What's one the programs that politicians like to cut? It used to be called Home Economics where you learned nutrition, food preparation, how to handle personal finances and child care (in the good programs). We are failing our young people by continuing to cut back on education that's needed and feeding our big businesses.
I didn't take the time to read every single comment on this article...but for those of you who are categorically putting down people who receive food stamps I say this. Yes, there are many people who take advantange of the programs out there, and there are checks and balances in place to attempt to stop this from happening...but for other families, such as my own, receiving food assistance is the ONLY way I can put food on my table for my two small children and husband. My husband lost his job 1.5 years ago and then underwent surgery from which he is still recovering. I work as much as I can and still only bring home $235.00 per week. Try supporting a family of four on that. After you take out just the necessities, gas, rent, home heating fuel (we skiped the AC this summer to save $$) when it's 20 degrees out we have no choice with a 2 year old and 5 year old but to use the heat there is mere pennies left. We do nothing for entertainment or fun unless its 100% free....I coupon religiously on everything...we walked everywhere possible until the weather prevented it. Heck, I don't even turn on the heat in my car unless it's completely necessary just to save gas.
So long story short...for those of you trashing everyone one accepting assistance shame on you. There are many of us out here doing everything possible to keep our heads afloat, our children fed and a roof over our heads...and in a state like MA where everything is outrageously exprensive, sometimes seeking out and accepting help is something you must to do survive.
And for the record, food assistance is the ONLY help we receive. We've cut out every extra expense we could from our lives in an attempt to not have to look for further assistance. Additionally, I give back as much as possible. We donate anything and everything possible, I volunteer at my daughters school, I help out whenever/wherever I can...I try and pay it forward.
Please don't be judgmental...for those of us who legitimately need the help it's embarassing enough without people looking down on you like you are a lazy piece of crap – when a lot of the time it's the complete opposite.
HI i hear you. It must be very difficult. It is lovely to hear that you are paying it foward by volunteering. I hope life gets better for you. I am disabled and on a limited income. My friends and I share food with each other. Whenever one has something we share and when we don't have food the other friend with offer it. It is a tough world out there. I go to a food bank when I need to, but mostly I figure other people need it more than I do so I pretty much try not too. Good luck to you and yours.
madmomma..just a little piece fo advice. Your car does not use anymore gas if the heater is on or not. A cars heater is heated by engine coolnat flowing through a small radioator type device under teh dash. turning it off simply divers the flow of water. So crank up the heat all you want and it will not make a difference.
For you to do what ever you can to work and provide for your family, then the food stamps are doing exactly what they are intended for. Assisting those who are working and trying to make it. It is the others who game the system that ruin the image for folks like you.
No judgement intended toward you and yours. But in many cases the system is damaged and too many are wasting resources that should go to people who continue to try to pull themselves out of a bad situation. Hope all works out for you and your family.
What "goes around comes around"! There will come a time (I believe) that those who "make fun and/or put down" those people who are receiving benefits will have to apply THEMSELVES!
As a retired FS Intake/Ongoing worker for the State of *************, I saw a lot of fraud and cheating in this program (now the FS program is called "SNAP").
However, that does NOT mean that everyone is a cheat or a deadbeat!
I am VERY conservative. However, as a nation, what are we supposed to do with children with their parents are out of work, and CANNOT find work?
Now I realize that we (the taxpayers) take care of a lot of able bodied people who CAN work, but will NOT work, even when work is available. I have NO sympathy for those people, but the children still can't go hungry!
Who in America would say that they want to deny food, a place to stay, and medical care to children? May God help all of us if we fail to take care of those children and elderly who are in need.
Thank you all for comments. I do know there are many shifty people out there...when my husband and I first moved out of downtown Boston we rented 1/2 a duplex and lived next to a family who was exactly that. They lied through their teeth and received every kind of assistance possible. The man's mom was actually a DTA worker and advised them on how to qualify for every possible program out there. It was angering to see. They also had a "hookup" at the local convenience store who would ring in their purchases as food when they weren't so they could use their EBT benefits...they also stole our cable LOL. It was hard to watch them do it but the man was crazy (he's now been serving a sentence in the HOC for the last several years) and reporting them was not an option I was comfortable with having a newborn to think of.
In our case, I was actually laid off from my job in a law firm 4 days prior to returning from maternity leave...even at that point we didn't seek out any assitance. It wasn't until we had drained out every bank account and 401K we even moved into a relatives property to save on rent and when we had no other option we applied for the SNAP program....and even then it was a tough thing to do. We've always been completely self sufficient...having to ask for help was a huge hit to my pride. I was almost in tears having to fill out the app...it's just something I wish I could have gotten us out of without needing help...but at the end of the day it wasn't and my kids welfare had to come before my own pride.
@Scott...thanks for the info on the using the heat in the car :) at least now I know I won't have to freeze anymore!
I am a disabled female who worked hard as a nurse for 30 years. I am in a wheelchair now. I am in constant pain. I asked for assistance with food stamps and I only get $16 a month. Got any tips on how to live on that for a month??
Try and get a friend to go to a food bank for you, or reapply for more assistance. Good luck.
FACT – Republicans politickers did not volunteer to live on food stamps. Their entitlement thinking prevents them from using food stamps. People living on food stamps are not living next for a fresh foods. In fact they live is healthy food deserts..a fruit or veggie is not sold in a store for 5 to 10 miles and that means travel. Food stamps recieptants more than likely do not have a car....
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