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

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

I really thought I understood the scope of the problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under: Human Rights • Hunger • SNAP


soundoff (616 Responses)
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    October 9, 2014 at 9:16 am | Reply
  2. Viv

    Snap, is really a blessing for those in need. I was a mom of making $63,000 a year and hubby was making $26,000 by the time we were 25 and we had 3 kids and awesome life and no debt, when the youngest was 2 she became disabled literally overnight I had to quit my job and we lost almost everything savings house cars to pay the medical bills. We now had to survive on one income with 3 kids and one with special needs, if it hadn't been for SNAP half the time we wouldn't have been able to put food on the table we stayed on SNAP for 3 years since I was unable to work and went through a divorce. My bay is a lot better now and I have been able to work for a year I now make almost $45,000 by myself and with child support I'm close to sixty, I no longer get any type of government assistance, but I am very grateful it was available when we needed it. Some people do take advantage of the system I have seen it, but I believe the majority of people are truly in need.

    August 31, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Reply
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  4. Name*patsy mcclanahan

    THIS IS SECOND TIME TO PANERAS. AGAIN OUT OF CINNAMON RAISEN BAGELS AT 1PM!!!!!!!!!!!!!REALLY. DOES THIS MEAN OUT FOR THE REST OF THE DAY. NITE FOREVER. I WAS PISSED. SOMEBODY NEEDS TO GET OFF THE POT . I FAILED TO SAY CASHIER CAME BACK . INFORMED ME THEY WERE OUT . DID I WANT JUST A CINNAMON . SURE SHE CAME BACK . SORRY WE HAD ONE LEFT AND THEY SOLD IT AT THE WINDOW!!!! POED

    March 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • Candace

      Shut up. This is CNN, not Panera.com.

      June 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Reply
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  7. Lisa

    I find this ironic. When I read this story in September, I thought this CEO was amazing. Now I know it was a publicity stunt. He still pays the majority of employees minimum wage and most of those are on some sort of public assistance. No health insurance, no sick time, not even breaks on seven hour shifts. I was hoping this was real, and he really was impacted. Unfortunately, this was a farce for PR at time his stock price was falling. Shame on him for using other people's real struggles to benefit yourself. SHAME!

    December 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Reply
    • herpderpavatar

      I'm sorry, but you have all of your facts wrong. I'm a catering coordinator at Panera and have been with the company for over 2 years. When I started at Panera as an hourly associate, I was paid 50 cents over minimum wage. A huge difference? Not exactly; but it is still more than your typical "fast food" pay. I'm involved in one of the busiest cafes in the St. Louis district, which is were the company (St. Louis Bread Company) was founded. I can assure you that almost all cafes pay over minimum wage.

      On to your comment on breaks, it is company policy to give every associate a 30 minute break if their shift is 5 hours or more. No questions asked. The associate can opt out of said break if they wish to, but no matter what, they will be offered one if their shift is 5 hours or more.

      As far as sick time goes, it is offered to every employee that has worked with us for 6+ months. You accumulate 2 weeks worth of paid vacation every year. Once again, company policy.

      Finally, health care. ALL associates are offered three separate tiers of health insurance. Each tier costs more than the previous, but also offers better coverage. It's not amazing insurance by any means, but it is still a lot more than you'd get from your typical fast food restaurant.

      Trust me, Panera isn't flawless, but they treat their employees a lot better than you make it seem.

      December 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Reply
      • ultima09

        Well, as someone who also works for Panera, i can verify some of what you say. However, i would suggest you consider the fact that "paying above minimum wage" doesn't exactly fix anything. The current minimum wage is so low, that even IF you're making a dollar an hour more, you're still so far below the poverty level you'll be on food stamps. They also give VERY poor raises. (2% / 6 months maximum, where i am.) Do the math on that. After 6 years (yes, YEARS) of baking, you'll still make less than 12.50 / hr, for a skilled profession that works up to 10 hour days, during 3rd shift, by him/herself. And breaks? Heh, they might SAY you get breaks. But the reality is, you are so busy that taking a break means you fall behind – and when your entire job is based off having certain things done by a certain time, falling behind is the worst thing you can do. The only "breaks" i've seen anyone take is to grab a drink and get back to work or to walk outside, prop the door open, and suck down a smoke while waiting for the oven timer to go off. Hardly a real break. I have never once seen anyone actually take a lunch or anything like that.

        I certainly wouldn't say Panera is the WORST place to work. There are some perks. But they could do far more for their employees if they chose to do so – and the quality of employees they have would get better IF they could keep some skilled people from bailing at the first sight of any job that pays a real wage.

        March 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  8. Brad

    Because Panera is a luxury. In fact, all restaurants are a luxury. You are paying someone to prepare and serve you food. Think about it. This is like saying people on government assistance can't afford full body massages.

    October 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Reply
    • ultima09

      No, not really. For a family of 4, yes. But if you are single, running through a drive through is often cheaper than a grocery trip. Especially when you consider food waste into the equation. (Getting proper portion sizes for a single plate is pretty hard with most grocery store foods – even when cooking everything yourself.) Granted, the quality of food is far lower, but when you're living on ~$9/hr, quality food is a luxury. You might think a 10 dollar meal is nothing – but when you've got 50 bucks in your wallet, 3 days til payday, and you need to buy gas to get to work the next day, 10 dollars is a LOT of money.

      March 1, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Reply
      • Ben

        Finally, someone who really gets it. AMEN. $10.00 is sometimes the difference between going to bed soundly and going to bed thinking about my stomache killing me.

        August 3, 2014 at 12:12 am | Reply
  9. Big_D

    The GOP wants these people to do without their 4.50 a day in food. The GOP is sick and wrong and Jesus didn't give the wealthy more and take away food from the hungry.

    October 24, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  10. MsFred

    People on food stamps are unemployed, homeless and lazy freeloaders??!!! Are you all serious?? Most of you are living in a false reality! Although I don't receive any government assistance there are plenty of WORKING Americans that do! If people aren't earning sufficient incomes then they may actually qualify for public assistance, i.e. food stamps. Case in point, I know a family of 4 that qualify for food stamps and the father is a firefighter in FL. I know a single mother with 2 kids that works for the state of GA and she qualifies for food stamps. I also know a college educated divorce mother of two who is recently laid off that now qualifies for food stamp! So please people, stop with your insensitive, heartless idiotic comments and be grateful that you are gainfully employed and don't have to turn to the government for assistance to feed your family!

    October 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      Be glad the poor continue to tolerate you! At any time, they could come after you with long, sharp, bayonets!

      October 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Reply
      • MsFred

        Oh Tom, you are in a dark, dark place....come to the light and get a clue!

        October 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
        • Jom Toad

          Nah. Leave him in the dark. It's where mushrooms thrive.

          October 24, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  11. KEVIN

    Sigh. You can't buy prepared food with snap. You aren't expected to survive on JUST your snap. Someone used to the finer things in life will of course have problems with the challenge. I had a small Subway sandwich today. A once a month treat for me. I usually eat those $1 frozen dinners for a meal, or cook a couple eggs and put them in a tortilla. 5' 8", 154lbs and no vitamin deficiencies, so I have no complaints. This guy irks me 'cause he complains about not having things for a short time that I never even see in my wildest dreams. You want to help people give your restaurants food free to the poor.

    October 23, 2013 at 6:43 am | Reply
    • Joy

      I've eaten at Panera a few times. this article is scewed because you can't use SNAP at restaurants. It's not allowed. As far as $4.50 a day. how about lower your prices! Don't make people drive and waste more gas money to go a Panera Cares.... I've spent over $8-10 on a "you pick two" menu many times at Panera. Good food, but seriously? How about you lower your paycheck and pay your employees more to help more of them off assistance!

      February 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  12. Tom Joad@RC

    You make an excellent point sir, and you are very perceptive. The reason I am so unhappy and poorly adjusted is because my father left when I was very young. He was very disappointed in me, which left just Mom to raise me. We were consequently very poor and mom had to turn tricks to put food on the table. This is what has saddled me with my massive inferiority complex, and made me such a bitter, self loathing person. Couple that with the fact that most every girlfriend I have wind up leaving me when they discover how intellectually inferior I am, and well, you can see where it goes.

    So please Eatocracy readers, please forgive me my illogical, and childish rants.

    October 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Reply
    • RC

      AHHHAHAHAHAHA!!!! LMFAO! Okay, "Tom". Had I been drinking anything just then, it would be spraying out my nose.

      October 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Reply
    • Jom Toad

      Not a chance in h3ll. You're an idiot. I don't carry a purse, I carry a baseball bat. And since you asked, sure, I'll take a swing.

      October 23, 2013 at 6:55 am | Reply
  13. DaTrufHurts

    I am sorry – I missed the part where welfare recipients should expect to dine at upscale fast foot eateries. Isn't this supposed to be for necessities?

    October 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • vbscript2

      Exactly. If you have to have someone else buy your food, you shouldn't expect to be eating at nice restaurants. I'm a software engineer and I don't often eat at expensive restaurants (granted, I could if I wanted to, but I have better things to do with my money.) Furthermore, SNAP is supposed to be, as the name itself says, *supplemental*. It's supposed to help out with the grocery bill, not be your entire source of food.

      October 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  14. Veritas

    The truth in this country is that the vast majority of the poor like their lifestyle just fine. They get most everything for free, and never have a care in the world. They CHOOSE to live this way. Heck, they will probably live longer than most of us due to less stress and worry in their lives.

    October 22, 2013 at 10:21 am | Reply
    • Drito

      Do you honestly think the poor live longer? Are you serious?

      October 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      Why do you name yourself after Roman toe jam? Are you a GOP philistine?

      October 23, 2013 at 10:13 am | Reply
  15. Pat

    Then stop having babies can't afford to raise in the first place and you parasites won't need food stamps!

    October 22, 2013 at 8:44 am | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      Do us a favor and stop breathing!

      October 22, 2013 at 10:13 am | Reply
      • RC

        We all wish your mom had done that. What a waste........

        October 22, 2013 at 10:34 am | Reply
      • Pat

        You don't like reasonable responsible people very much do you? Typical.

        October 22, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply
        • Tom Joad

          We the People don't like slobbering, grunting, squealing, self-righteous pigs!

          October 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • RC

      I totally agree! For every kid you squeeze out, your benefits go down.

      October 22, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
      • Tom Joad

        "Totally"? You sound like a punk kid. Go 'totally' jump in a lake!

        October 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Reply
        • Jom Toad

          Totally shove it up your a$$.

          October 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Ya gonna hit me with your purse?

          October 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • RC@Toadhole

          Pretty sure I'm old enough to be your father and then some. Especially given your plethora of childish comments. Had I been your father though, I wouldn't have let you live.....

          October 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Sandy

      You live in a fantasy world where everyone controls his own fate and most people live off food stamps their entire lives. The truth is that most people who get food stamps get them for a brief time during a crisis period (illness, loss of job, etc.). I hope you realize that someone can have three children and later be laid off during an economic downturn and only then need assistance. Realizing that this could happen to anyone - even you - is the first step on the road to sanity. (Oh, and I don't care how much money you have prudently saved. If you're sick enough long enough you will end up poor, although things are looking up a bit with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.)

      October 24, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
  16. Stacy

    SNAP is not meant to cover ALL food expenses. In reality, for a lot of people, it does. Personally, i believe there should be limits on what it actually covers so that people spend those funds more wisely. The WIC program successfully limits the foods it's participants are allowed to purchase and I think the same should be done for SNAP. Specifically, i do not feel that items such as chips, sodas, and ready made meals should be paid for- at least not completely free choice as it is now. It's one thing to allow a family to purchase a couple of frozen pizzas per months, but it's another thing to allow them to purchase nothing but frozen pizzas for the month! i believe that if you are relying on SNAP and other assistance you should be forced to buy things like beans and rice and non-instant oatmeal like those of us who are working to pay for your financial assistance! I recently made some changes in my own shopping habits buying healthier foods and fewer ready made items and discovered that i have actually spent less on eating better. The only difference is that I actually have to cook the food instead of putting it in the microwave. I never have been one to buy snack foods or sodas though so i can only imagine the savings that would come from not being allowed to buy those items.

    October 22, 2013 at 6:55 am | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      Something tells me you are inordinately fond of frozen pizzas. I am further willing to guess you are probably as fat and lazy as you are stupid!

      October 22, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Nothing wrong with buying frozen dinners for $1 on food stamps. I can buy 4.5 of them a day on the "challenge". You have to understand that snap regulates itself, in theory. Of course it is bad to get snap if you don't need it, but if you DO need it as intended you buy cheap things with it, not the things you are worried about. If you splurge and don't use it wisely, it runs out and you have no more food. The main goal of a person using food stamps is to buy inexpensive things. Things on sale. A dollar bowl of chili to be nuked. Macaroni and cheese with a hot-dog sliced up in it. Yes, you can buy cola, too if your budget allows. If you don't like what is purchased, then yell about how much people are getting so they will have to cut out anything that is "superfluous". You don't have to regulate the items themselves.

      You ARE wrong, though in that NO ONE survives only on their snap benefits for food. That is far far from reality. I know so many people who get them - most of them working on minimum wage, and their snap gives out in about two weeks. There is still their income and food banks. There are family and friends. Heck, when I was really down and out I had one friend who would bring me a plate to my front door a few times a week that his wife would put together for me. That gesture was very, very much appreciated!

      October 23, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
  17. Gene

    For some good information on how much money is really available, go to http://www.cato.org/publications/white-paper/work-versus-welfare-trade
    After that, reconsider the $4.50/day analysis, and come up with your own opinions.
    Many of the numbers surprised me. At the very least, I think a system of 72 different programs which offer direct benefits is a system set up for fraud and abuse, and consolidation would be wise. Additionally, some benefits even if rarely rewarded (ie central AC in NY under NYSERDA) create a visible target for opponents of financial aid for the needy, and these programs would be better off without such clear excesses.

    October 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  18. mariselsalazar

    Articles on SNAP Food Challenges always fail to mention one HUGE fact: the food stamps (about $4/person per day or so that people in the program receive to purchase food) are IN ADDITION TO what they ALREADY spend on food from their own pocket. In reality, they are not living off ~$30 to spend on food ( granted, I am sure there are some people that only allot their food stamps an no other income to food). It says it in the name itself: SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program. They receive ~$30 plus how ever many dollars they've spent out of their own pocket, plus any other food bank donations. The real challenge would be to determine how much someone on food stamps spend out of their own pocket without assistance from SNAP and do that as a challenge. These types of challenges are completely misleading in reality to how the actual program is structure or the Thrifty Food Plans by the USDA, which serves as the basis for SNAP: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood.htm. It represents nutritious diets at different costs, breaking it down by age, gender, family size and weekly or monthly food spendings.

    October 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • judeamorris

      I am a retired senior living in a community of low-income seniors. Most of us get around $1000 a month from Social Security. Our special rent for a tiny 1-bedroom apartment is $800. Add heat and light, a basic phone service for emergencies, personal supplies (soap, deodorant, etc.), and the cost of doing laundry (about $25 a month), and there is very little left for food. SNAP becomes the primary source of food, and what's left from income supplements it. Seniors and the disabled account for the majority of SNAP funding in this country. It is possible to survive on food stamps with careful planning, but believe me, fresh fruit and veggies and meat proteins are treats, not everyday food items. Most of us rely strongly on oatmeal, rice, beans, and pasta.

      October 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Reply
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        If you're paying $800/mo to rent a one bedroom apartment, it's time to move to an area you can afford to live in.

        Also, I wish social security would be around if I ever get to retire. Consider yourself lucky. Social Security was mant to be a supplement to your retirement fund? Did we fail to fund that during our working life? I have no choice unless I want to be bagging groceries at age 95.

        October 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Reply
        • gr

          S/he may live in a very high cost-of-living area. And tell me how exactly a retired senior can move themselves and their belongings to another city/state on a low income that barely covers the basics.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
      • KEVIN

        Yes, OMG, you are spending waaay too much on your rent. I rent a HOUSE for $450 a month.

        October 23, 2013 at 10:34 am | Reply
      • vbscript2

        If you're living on Social Security, why are you living in a place where the rent is $800/mo?! You can get a house payment well less than that in most parts of the U.S. Is this an assisted living facility of some sort or are you just living in an overly expensive area? If it's the latter, I would suggest moving. You can easily apartments for $500/mo or less in most parts of the U.S. You can even rent houses for less than that in a lot of places.

        October 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
        • gr

          If this person if living on social security, I doubt they would qualify for a mortgage. And it is not feasible for most seniors to move cross-country unless they have family that are willing and able to assist. Many do not.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  19. mike

    Living on $30 a week would be easy if it weren't for the Executive Managers in Corporate America who manipulate the prices of everything in order to inflate the cost of living so that even middle class America can barely survive. Corporate Executives are the embodiment of everything our Founding Fathers fought against, they all need to hang, and their families exiled.

    October 21, 2013 at 1:29 am | Reply
  20. phong

    I only have 2 brick n mortar locations as opposed to his hundreds, but I rarely ever spend the kind of money Panera charges for lunch. I came here as a penniless refugee and have done OK for myself. A few degrees, worked the crappiest jobs–even as an underaged worker under illegal conditions so I know the value of a measly dollar. I eat ramen for lunch or something under a buck or two. I cringe when I see employees eat (always at least $5 for lunch)....days often consist of multiple sodas, lattes, baskin robbins, sushi, etc. Then they complain about money. I guess their money's converted to soft assets with low liquidity :).

    October 20, 2013 at 3:41 am | Reply
    • jlisting

      This is exactly what is wrong....people squandering their money on starbucks, panera, etc. They can easily cook at home if they just bothered to learn that it really is not that difficult to cook delicious low cost meals of your Choice at home! Also it is more hygienic, less chemiclas in the form of preservitives, etc. People are too lazy and just want quick fixes...meal in a box, better yet drive through, and so on...then they have no money for real food.

      October 20, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply
      • kenneypco

        If only everyone one had a HOME to cook in. Believe me when I tell you that homeless people would LOVE to be able to buy food and cook it at home. But that is why they are called HOMELESS. They have no homes. They aren't able to cook so when they get food stamps they have to buy unprepared food that is cold. Trying buying a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly then carrying those around with you EVERYWHERE you go in addition to all your other possessions and ensure that you don't smash your bread. If you lived one week as a homeless person you would understand that sometimes what you think you know about how people acting stupid and spending unwisely is not what you know.

        October 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Reply
      • Thinking things through

        As he said: if homeLESS, no cooking at HOME. Would be nice to be that simple, eh?

        October 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  21. Chris

    If you are on food stamps, obviously you are poor. Why do you need to be able to eat at Panera on food stamps? People on food stamps should not be eating in restaurants. They need to learn to live on the budget of the FREE money given to them that they don't work for. They also should not get huge child tax credits when they pay nothing into the system. The food stamp program needs to be abolished. I don't care if people can't eat. I'm so tired of hearing about it. The problem isn't getting better, it is getting worse. Let the weak die and the strong survive. Send them to poor camps or something. Though insensitive I'm just tired of people who constantly complain about the FREE money given to them by hard working Americans and yet they do nothing to try to better themselves and they make excuses like having to take care of the kids. The Govt. also provides daycare... but again, these are people who don't want to work, not people who can't work.

    October 20, 2013 at 1:36 am | Reply
    • kenneypco

      HMMM Maybe you are not aware of this but you CAN NOT buy fast food or any hot prepared food with food stamps. DUH! So people with food stamps aren't using food stamps to buy Starbucks coffee. In fact people on food stamps can not even buy coffee at 7-11 with food stamps. That is considered hot pre-prepared food. They can buy instant coffee but then they can't buy hot water to make the coffee. They can buy cold water. And there is nothing like being homeless on a cold wintry day and knowing I can buy all the cold bottled water I want but not a hot cup of coffee to keep me warm.

      October 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      That's right! We Tea Partiers say that the poor should be confined in chains, on a diet of moldy bread and dirty water! Why should they have anything more than that? Are there not enough prisons? Are there not enough poorhouses? And besides, everybody knows the poor are responsible for all our problems!

      October 21, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Reply
      • I think I speak for us all, but...

        Please kill yourself.

        Thank you.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
        • Tom Joad

          Pinko!

          October 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I think child tax credits are a sham. You should never receive a larger tax refund than you actually paid. People getting $5000 refunds when they paid $1100 in taxes during the year is ludicrous. And we wonder why we're $17 Trillion in debt with stuff like this going on.

      October 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  22. Mike

    I have a good job and have never had any sort of government assistance. I rarely spend over $120 a month on groceries, and i eat very well

    October 19, 2013 at 10:16 am | Reply
    • kenneypco

      Good for you! Congratulations. I'm so glad that you have figured out a way to NOT get assistance and somehow reduce your food cost to $120 per month. I don't believe it but if it is true, Congratulations. You must be eating good on roman noodles and $1 TV dinners, maybe skipping meals or having water out of the tap for dinner. HMMM sounds great!

      October 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Mike, PLEASE, please tell us what you buy for that $120 (and perhaps where) so that we may also benefit! I want to believe you!

      October 23, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply
  23. Southerner01

    You should not be happy with your choices if you are on SNAP. You should be able to eat enough calories of a reasonably balanced type to meet minimum daily needs. Fun and tasty shouldn't even factor in. Having said that, It isn't difficult at all to eat on $30 a week.

    Looking at the ad for my closest grocery, General Mills cereals are on sale for $1.99. 2 boxes plus a gallon of Milk covers breakfast. $8. total, plus that's more than enough for one person for a week.

    Loaf of Bread $2. Chunky soup is on sale for $1.39 a can. Snag 3 of those, some peanut butter and jelly and lunch is well covered. $10 total Again, the peanut butter and jelly are more than needed for 1 week.

    Black beans, rice, an onion to flavor, and dinner is served. While that's enough for a week for about $5, that would get boring, and we want more protein, so snag a pound of dark meat chicken for $2 a bag of frozen mixed veggies for $1.79, and a pound of hamburger for $2.

    That leaves a dollar for something frivolous, and there is no need to feel hungry on that diet. Since the shopping does not have to be done one weeks worth at a time, much more variety will be possible, if you think about $60 for two weeks. Lets look at week 2's menu:

    Lets get some eggs for Breakfast. Pack of 18 is $2.29 Box of Bisquick $3. lasts more than a week, and some of the milk from last week and we have biscuits or pancakes to go with our eggs. Now we can vary breakfasts between eggs and biscuits, or two kinds of cereal.

    Another loaf of bread $2. A pound of store brand lunch meat, on sale $4. Another bag of frozen veggies $2. A bag of store brand potato chips, just for variety $2.

    Pork butt roast is on sale, $2.49 a pound. Buy a 2 pounder, and you're set for most of the week. $5. Another bag of veggies $2. A bag of potatoes to go with the pork roast $3

    We've got $8 bucks left out of the $60, so we buy a 3 pound bag of apples for $2.99, a pound of bartlett pears for $.99, and a pound each of fresh zucchini and fresh green beans, both on sale for $1.49 a pound. The last buck I spend on a stick of butter. Because I can.

    Now we have variety, lots of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of protein.

    October 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      The homeless and car-less appreciate your all-knowing 'wisdom' and self-righteousness!

      October 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
      • Nuff Said

        If they are without car & a home, chances are they're also without a computer, too. So chances again are they won't see this. You are a dumba$$ and need to be cut off from your mom's wifi and Cheeto supply.

        October 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply
        • kenneypco

          So little you know about homeless people. They may be homeless but we do have LIBRARIES with COMPUTERS. DUH!! Not everyone as is as pathetically helpless as you seem to think. We are homeless and WE ARE ON THE INTERNET TOO! GEE WHIZ. GO FIGURE THAT. But THANKS for the insult. You probably think we can't read either just because we find ourselves homeless at the moment.

          October 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
        • Nuff Said

          Bitter. Party of one – you're table is now available. With your library computer, look up the phrase "chance are" and try a little harder in your reading comp class.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:51 am |
        • Nuff Said

          you're s/b your

          October 21, 2013 at 6:52 am |
      • Gordon

        The homeless have access to shelters and food pantries and soup kitchens so they can get hot food served to them!

        October 22, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
        • Tom Joad

          Not all of them you arrogant, slobbering, self-righteous ignoramus of a fool!

          October 22, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Ed

      Problem is, the people mooching with food stamps aren't motivated enough do that kind of math. Which is why they're on food stamps.

      October 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Reply
      • Tom Joad

        I know someone with an MA in math, who is on food stamps.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • Reza Kantal

      Cool. So let's see you do that your a month.

      October 19, 2013 at 7:38 am | Reply
    • mike

      a human needs 1,500 calories per day to survive. Corporate America manipulates prices of ready-to-eat food so that is basically works out to $1 for each 300 calories, which is $5 per day. 1,500 calroies leaves a person hungry, employed Americans eat 3,000 to 5,000 calroies per day. So yes, the SNAP provides survival level help, and that is exactly what it should provide. If a person is not homeless and can cook, they can eat alot more than 1,500 calroies on $4.50 per day. It may be beans and rice, but it is still plenty for a freeloader.

      October 21, 2013 at 1:36 am | Reply
    • Chuck Roast

      Where on earth do you get a pound of beef for two dollars??

      October 21, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
      • KEVIN

        At the grocery. On sale.

        October 23, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • JAFO

      You are basing your shopping list on the assumption there is a grocery store in every neighborhood with these prices. Most inner cities or country areas don't have access to a nice market.

      October 21, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  24. Joephis

    So what I'm reading is that if you want to eat you can't be lazy and you should get off your butt and get a job. How is this news??

    October 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Reply
    • Reza Kantal

      Learn something already. Most recipients of food stamps are the full-time employed working poor. It has nothing to do with getting a job. It has to do with your job not paying a living wage. Every American who works or who is disabled and unable to work should at least get enough for a healthy diet and should not have to count pennies or calories when preparing a meal. Go get a heart.

      Okay, so now you're going to say "well, go to school and get a better job!" Okay, so if everyone goes to school and gets a better job, who's going to do those jobs that they left? Who's going to fix your carburetor? Who's going to lay your sprinkler system? Who's going to pick up your garbage? All these are needed... and we need people doing them. And we should pay them enough to eat and to have some enjoyment in life.

      October 19, 2013 at 7:50 am | Reply
      • Paulhow

        Think again. That is a general statement and far from the truth.

        October 19, 2013 at 9:24 am | Reply
      • mike

        The real problem is Corporate America manipulating prices and making bare subsistance items require a middle-class wage. Corporate America is f-ing all of America. Corporate America is the elite class that our Founding Father's fought against. BOYCOTT CORPORATE GOODS!!!

        October 21, 2013 at 1:39 am | Reply
      • KEVIN

        You say working poor use the most. He says seniors use the most. She says the homeless use the most.

        Who is correct?

        October 23, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      That's right! You ungrateful bums should get out there and get one of those plentiful jobs!

      October 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Reply
      • Kim

        Not everyone that utilizes food stamps is a bum. There are the elderly that live off of $1000 in social security or less per month that are no longer able to work. There are also individuals that were part of a lay off that are either not able to find employment or are working hard and are under employed. Pair that with health issues such as type one (insulin dependent) diabetes (costs with health insurance run about $500 a month) and that leads a disaster financially. There are individuals that are abusing the system but there are also a lot of people that are down on their luck (recently unemployed or under employed). I do not consider that as being a bum.

        October 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Reply
  25. Cyndi

    Making "bad" choices, cheating and being lazy is not limited to the poor. Many of today's poor do not receive "Welfare checks" anymore, remember Clinton ended welfare. Far too many families, their innocent children, retired seniors, the homeless and even our veterans rely on their SNAP benefits to provide all of their food. Without SNAP they simply don't eat!

    Consider about $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. The government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance. So the next time you think welfare queen picture think of the Chairman of Archer Daniels Midland Corporation (ADM), the most prominent recipient of corporate welfare in recent U.S. history.

    October 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Reply
    • mike

      S'truth!!!

      October 21, 2013 at 1:40 am | Reply
    • JellyBean

      Hear, hear!!

      October 21, 2013 at 6:14 am | Reply
  26. Dean Morse

    Regardless of some posters individual perceptions of citizens who are on either fixed incomes, or surviving on low paying jobs, poverty and hunger are a way of life for many. As a supposedly advanced society, we do far too little for the needy. Christmas and thanksgiving, people contribute to Toys for Tots and local food banks but poverty does not go away after the holidays. Placing a blanket of blame on all welfare recipients is patently unfair, as everyones circumstances are different. To blame the poor for their lot in life is quite convenient for those that only worry about themselves. I was brought up to have compassion and understanding for others. I believe after reviewing many of the opinions here, that some may need a re-education of just how cruel life can be for some who are unfortunate, through no fault of their own. What goes around, can come around, and bite you where the sun don't shine.

    October 16, 2013 at 9:38 am | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      The poor will have their revenge. Eighteenth-century French nobles had the same haughty, self-righteous attitudes towards the poor that can be seen in these comments. But they got theirs, didn't they?

      October 16, 2013 at 11:21 am | Reply
    • Roma

      Well said Dean. Those more fortunate should always help those less fortunate regardless if we feel they deserve it or not. It is just the right thing to do. The most generous people I know are those who have the least who give the most.

      October 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  27. SanJo58

    SNAP or foodstamps is "Supplemental Assistance". It was never meant to be the sole source of food.
    I was a foster kid, and had family on AFDC. I know.

    Food Stamps *subsidises* food purchases. it helps people who are means-tested to eat better by reducing the cost of a specific list of food types. You can't buy a car or handbag with food stamps. The store owner cannot exchange the vouchers for cash if they were spent "off-schedule".

    I grew up on food-stamps, from 3 1/2 to 18. I always received wholesome food, and plenty at the table, because the foodstamps, together with other earnings or AFDC grants paid for what the food-stamps could not.

    I applaud the CEO for trying to live on food-stamps alone, but that is not what is intended.

    That said, if the other funds a familiy received doesn't cover expenses, then Food-Stamps is ALL they have for food, and it isn't enough.

    October 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Reply
  28. Thomas

    I'm sorry but my mother raised us by herself without gov't assistance. If she can do it all of these people can do it. I have no tolerance for "poor" people who drive nice cars, have designer handbags, nails done and all that gab. Simply put stop complaining about being poor (no I am not refering to this article; but instead to those who are on here whining) and freaking do something about it. Tired of your boss making more money than you? Then freaking become the boss. Go to school, better yourselves like the rest of us. Then walk in our shoes and see how depressing it is to see what you have busted your hump for go to some heifer sitting on a couch with 7 kids flipping channels and popping her bubble gum. Then you will understand where my distain comes from. If you are sick of being poor then freaking STOP IT. MAKE THE CHANGES YOU NEED TO IN YOUR LIFE. BECOME ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOURSELF.

    October 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • Tom Joad

      I've never met any poor people with nice cars or designer handbags. What planet do you live in?

      October 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Reply
      • You're kiddinig, right?

        I work with the poor, who are known for being poor because they make famously bad choices. Think Red Bull, cigs, beer and lottery tickets over paying for things like rent.

        What planet are you on? My guess the only poor that you see are those that you and your liberal friends pass on your way to Starbucks...

        October 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Reply
        • Tom Joad

          You are a self-righteous, ignorant, arrogant, slobbering pig!

          October 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Emily Post

          When on a blog board, and you realize that you have no valid argument, feel free to namecall or launch personal attacks. Your obvious ignorance will be temporarily overlooked in light of your boorish and juvenile behavior.

          October 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Oink! Oink! Oink! SOOOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEE!!!

          October 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • Steve

          Cigarettes, red bull and lottery tickets sound like addictive behavior. Those people need assistance more than any of us. And you can tell your conservative friends "assisting" the needy to stop trying to fill people's head with nonsense about god. They need real assistance.
          Furthermore, don't group poor people into one big group of cigarette smoking, lottery ticket buying junkies. There are plenty of families and students that use food stamps.
          And finally... You do realize that liberals only drink Starbucks coffee when they are in your hometown of Incestville Georgia. There are local coffee houses in cities that make far better coffee for less money.

          October 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Jom Toad's Ghost

        Or not.

        October 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • Carl Silverstein

        Growing up in NYC I regularly saw horrible abusing of the food stamp program. I saw vey expensive cars, fur coats, expansive jewelry owned by these 'poor' while purchasing beer, tobacco products, and many luxury products. While helping a much smaller percentage of truely needy, this has been a huge scam.

        October 16, 2013 at 6:09 am | Reply
        • Tom Joad

          Nahhh! You were looking at Wall Street brokers!

          October 16, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • shelton

        I volunteer every week at a food bank near my home. As the needy are lining up outside waiting for the doors to open, I see so many of them chain smoking their name brand cigarettes. At 100$ a carton, I think a lot of our nation's hunger is because of poor spending choices.

        October 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Reply
    • Teresa

      You had a chance to make the world a better place today. And you chose to pass it up. Not to worry Thomas. There is always tomorrow to take the higher road!

      October 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • Ivory

      I agree totally with almost everything you said. I commend your mother for taking care of you and your siblings without any assistance from the government. You and your family should be proud. My mother started out receiving assistance at one point and made it her business to change that. She worked 12 hour shifts 7 days a week to make sure her children had what they NEEDED. So I too can see your point. Getting out of poverty can be done by anyone with focus, sacrifice, and dedication. However, I don't agree that anyone of us can be the judge of another persons situation. Opportunity and circumstance doesn't treat everyone equally unfortunately. It's not an excuse to give up or not do everything possible to change your situation. But everyone's situation is not the same. I also wanted to reference the manner in which you described these "poor people". Some of the ways you described them " poor but drive nice cars", " popping gum", " getting nails done", "designer hand bags". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out there's a particular group of people that you are referring to or stereotyping. Just an FYI ... being poor doesn't require you to be a certain color. Not saying that their isn't truth in what you said. But we all as a human race can make better choices financially and need to empower ourselves and our youth to stop looking for ways to find employment and think of ways that we can create employment. Race or racism has no place in these sorts of discussions.

      October 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Reply
    • SanJo58

      " I have no tolerance for "poor" people who drive nice cars, have designer handbags, ..."

      Such people are not poor, they are frauds. They exist and are a puny percentage of the families on Assistance.
      Red Herring rhetoric. Everyone hates fraud, yet fraudlent foodstamp users are not typical.

      How *WAS* that Tea Party gathering where you got this talking point ?

      October 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Reply
      • Welfare Culture blowback

        Democrats created a culture who reproduce for checks.

        Its high time that choice became history in a country where the worker's jobs are outsourced. Not enough for the producers mean the leeches suffer.

        MORE welfare is not the answer where the only poor in the equation is "poor choices".

        Working a job for a high schooler and making a family with 6 kids is down right stew pid.

        October 15, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Reply
        • rkage

          Nonsense. Outsourcing has little to do with food stamps and much to do with dirt cheap labor overseas–people, including women and children–working in cramped, crowded and hostile environments with little to no pollution control all so corporate heads and their shareholders, who were already profitable, to be able to line their pockets even more. Not only do they save money by getting goods so cheap, they also directly harm the economy by not having to pay employment tax on foreign labor, on top of getting tax credit for outsourcing... something they likely lobbied for. This in turn DOES harm workers who were not laid off from these firms who are now expected to do the job of 2. Outsourcing ESPECIALLY reduces opportunities for low skill job seekers and even more skilled manufacturing laborers, and this creates an underemployed, underpaid sector who still try to work but rely on food stamps for survival in the interim.

          October 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
      • Tom Joad

        Yes! It's a shame that the US Capital building and Wall Street are filled with these fraudulent welfare cheats!

        October 16, 2013 at 11:26 am | Reply
      • TransitDave

        Well, a whole lot of people who both buy and sell EBT cards might disagree with you about the amount of fraud and waste in the program, but they're doing well with it........The going rate is 50 cents on the dollar, and business is brisk

        October 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  29. nonyabidnes2

    $4.50 a day, that is too low. At best, I can get two hot dog specials at Sam's club or costco

    October 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Reply
    • AmericanFool

      Top Raman, Baby! Fact is, you can drink water and live very cheaply... I've managed for $2-3 per day, but that was 25 years ago, so that's probably in the same ballpark after you discount inflation. However, proper nutrition is going to be difficult to impossible. The thing about food, just a little more spent can mean a lot more in nutrition.

      October 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      SNAP, SUPPLEMENTAL nutrition assistance program.

      The key word is supplemental. However, I submit that you can eat on 4.50 a day.

      Rice and beans, both under a dollar a pound and 1500-2000 calories per pound depending on variety, so on a raw calorie basis you can easily get enough calories for less than 2 dollars a day.

      I regularly buy pork roast for 99 cents a pound

      Bags of potatoes, seasonal fruit and veggies, all cheap. Loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter?

      I can easily eat for 4.50 a day, I can eat for 3 dollars a day all week and roast a steak on Saturday night.

      People are spoiled and want convenience foods, eating out, and spend too much on beverages when water is nearly free.

      October 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Reply
    • sweetpea

      Being from a family who grew up on welfare, being on welfare as a single mom and being someone who choose to change it by working multiple jobs, and going back to school it can be done. I know MANY MANY people on welfare, and they make BANK. One person gets 1100 in foot stamps for their family of 6, another 600 for a family of 3. I have a family of 5 now and don't need that. That 4.50 a day thing is crap. if you have the option to keep making bad choices, to stay in the lifestyle of living on welfare or you can change your life. I have even heard people say why should I work, I get free foods, housing, daycare, utilities, and cash. Our system should be designed to help people in temp situations, not lifelong.

      October 17, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • Kim

      I agree that $4.50 a day is not a lot, but the truth is that many get less than that in food stamps. I was part of a lay-off last month and earning $275 a week in unemployment only qualifies you for $23.00 a month in food stamps, which averages out to about 76 cents a day to eat off of. Pair that with a medical condition that costs almost half of what you receive in unemployment every month.

      October 18, 2013 at 1:07 am | Reply
  30. Scott

    The real need in article is to discover how many Panera workers need snap due to the low wages there.

    October 15, 2013 at 6:32 am | Reply
  31. Rob

    so since when did these taxpayer funded handouts become a way of life, as opposed to a stepping-stone until one gets back on their feet?

    You're not supposed to be living "high on the hog" when you're on taxpayer funded assistance...

    YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO MAKE A CAREER OUT OF THIS ASSISTANCE.

    October 15, 2013 at 1:40 am | Reply
    • Angel

      And Rob... The majority of the people using this program, ARE WORKING ADULTS... MOST WITH CHILDREN!!! that don't MAKE ENOUGH MONEY to live even remotely comfortably... They have to do things like eat ramen, and rice, and crappy/not healthy pasta products... processed foodstuffs, because they are the only things cheap enough to purchase and make your benfits work...

      Yes, there are those that abuse the system, but with that same logic... no one should be able to drive a vehicle, because someone might abuse the system and drive recklessly... IT IS PLAIN IGNORANCE!!!

      October 15, 2013 at 9:27 am | Reply
      • Rob

        Angel, guess what, I had to eat ramen earlier in my life as well. I was poor. But guess what, I let that be an incentive to me to NOT stay like that.

        Sorry, but the old whiny "oh, but they can't live like that" line is crap. We are sick & tired of working our behinds off, working full time & going to school at night, just to support someone who decides they wanna sit at home & watch jerry springer.

        You have 2 choices – to be a victim, or to dig yourself out of the hole.

        Oh, and what is IGNORANT is thinking that WE taxpayers have to keep supporting these people – oh, and that stupid comparison about driving a vehicle – what are you talking about? Nobody ever said anything about getting rid of assistance, but we most certainly ARE saying that the system needs a COMPLETE overhaul. BTW, let me guess, you don't have the same logic regarding guns, right? I mean, even though very FEW people "abuse" the RIGHT to bear arms, I'm pretty sure you wanna infringe on the rights of the majority.

        What an ignorant, hypocritical, emotionally-driven, non-logical thinking waste of life you are.

        October 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Reply
      • sweetpea

        most of those on welfare are working dead end jobs, jobs meant for teenagers, not for working adults who are raising kids. If you have kids it is your responsibility to give them the best life possible. Go to school, get a career, Not a low paging dead end job and support your kids properly. They should not have to have a crappy up bringing because the parents don't want better jobs.

        October 17, 2013 at 8:01 am | Reply
        • gr

          I'm sure they would love to go to school and get a better job. Who will watch the kids while they are at school, and pay their tuition and household expenses since they will be at school and unable to work as many hours? Many are single-parent households, that depend on that meager income for survival. For you to say just go to school and get a better job is easy; for many families in this situation it is impossible.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  32. Sanfran221

    Silly, to eat at Panera, you also have to use your kids' SNAP benefits. They will be OK, they still get 3 free meals at school.

    October 14, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  33. Ed

    Well, of course he couldn't eat in his own restaurant. Food Stamps are not intended to be used to go out to eat in restaurants. They are for survival levels of food and best spent on inexpensive, bulk foods like pinto beans, rice and inexpensive cuts of meat.

    October 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  34. joedog

    Some use it wisely and others shewredly. The wise feed themselves and family. The shrewd but beer and ciagrettes in blackmarket stores.

    October 14, 2013 at 7:05 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Wise and shrewd are synonyms.

      October 14, 2013 at 7:45 am | Reply
    • Shootmyownfood

      Well, since shrewd and wise mean the same thing, I don't understand your post. Shrewd also means smart, perceptive, insightful, clever, intelligent, cunning, crafty, canny, sensible. I don't think you intended to use words with the same meaning (a "synonym").

      October 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  35. Cat

    SNAP off and on during periods of unemployment. I knew to strech the benefits by using coupons, buying discounted items, shopping at a bread outlet and shopping sales. I have a car so could choose which stores to shop at. I shopped at the 99 cent store way before the economy tanked, for produce, available organic, dairy and frozen items. My kids gave teachers food gift baskets at Christmas that included a few items bought with my SNAP card. I can afford to eat at Panera now, we split a pick two.

    October 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  36. RC

    I'm sorry, but good lord. Haven't we beat this dead horse long enough? It's been over a week. The CEO of Panera can't eat at his restaurant on food stamps. BFD. Yeah, maybe he brought some awareness to the hardship some people face in feeding themselves and their families, but in the grand scheme of things, what has he accomplished? Unless he does something with what he experienced, I don't see the point.

    October 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Reply
    • AleeD®@RC

      More people are eating at Panera now? ^_^

      October 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • areopagan

      He is doing something about it. Panera partners with Feeding America and donates both food and money to food banks. They also match 10% of customer donations.

      October 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
    • tildejac

      Panera sucks and is way overpriced in any case. I can afford to eat their but choose not to. I prefer pinto beans and rice.

      October 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  37. Marc

    Better understanding something and actually doing something to change it are two different things. How do you think the people working at Panera feel? They can't even afford to eat the food they serve.

    October 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  38. docrock

    I would be shocked if people on food stamps were eating at Panera. I can barely eat out because I am SAVING so much money , eating out is expensive!!

    October 13, 2013 at 9:04 am | Reply
  39. Lea

    God bless your heart Ron for being a bigger person for a week and seeing for yourself what color the grass is on the other side. It's not easy to fill your own shoes in life from time to time, let alone someone else's. I believe I understand the bigger picture and message that your portraying in your article I'm just really curious what your next steps are going to be? I do know that this had to of been a life changing experience for you, I wish there were more people like you out there, I wish you the best of luck and may the lord guide you.

    October 13, 2013 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • Floyd Rogers

      The rich man so hard to get through the eye of the needle but all things are possible with God, and this man most likely will get through that eye and make it to Heaven for his good works showing forth to those that need. Now, the workers at these places must have ultimate respect for those that come in and cannot afford to buy it at regular prices and be happy to them and not sarcastic like many of the social workers treat the needy when in real life if no one needed any help those same workers would be out of a job and looking for food stamps themselves, so be kind to all every one.

      October 13, 2013 at 11:50 am | Reply
  40. Susie

    I have no problem feeding my family of four on less than $3.50. We have plenty of healthy meals each day with lots of fruits and vegetables. Its not really that hard.

    October 13, 2013 at 12:18 am | Reply
    • Susie

      That is $3.50 each per day.

      October 13, 2013 at 12:22 am | Reply
      • bob johns

        A loaf of bread and bottled water is more than $3.50 per day.You`re out of your mind

        October 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Reply
        • tildejac

          Why does anyone drink bottled water, it is much cheaper from the tap. People are led to believe water from a bottle is healther when it really is not.

          October 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
        • Shootmyownfood

          Bottled water is a luxury. No-one on SNAP uses bottled water unless the tap water in their residence is unfit to drink.

          October 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • Tom Joad

          Bottled water is simply re-distilled tap water. Therefore, it is no "luxury", except to the rich suckers who buy it,actuallythinking it bubbles forth from a spring somewhere!

          October 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Floyd Rogers

      You must starve them. I would like to know what you feed your family on that amount.

      October 13, 2013 at 11:51 am | Reply
  41. David

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

    You cannot eat in ANY restaurant with food stamps! Get a clue!

    October 12, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Reply
    • RIck

      Panera CEO is a moron. A simplistic fool.

      I can eat healthy on less that $3 a day

      BTW, I like eating at Panera and using their wifi.

      If he is brave enough to be that stupid in Public media, then I can be brave enough to personally boycott Panera for 1 year .. maybe 2.

      October 13, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply
      • Floyd Rogers

        You must eat one Chicago hotdog and drink sewer water.

        October 13, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
        • Eric

          Floyd, you obviously are not too intelligent. You can eat quite well for that amount if you purchase groceries on sale and make things from scratch.

          October 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • Wesley Hamstreet

        You are able to maintain a healthy adult diet and remain active on $1095 as your entire year's food budget? That seems extraordinary. This calls into question what you consider healthy. Can you spell out this grocery list and meal preparation process?

        October 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Reply
    • Wesley Hamstreet

      It was obvious that he was comparing his imposed budget limits to what was available in the average Panera storefront. It is not likely that he was suggesting that he attempted to make a SNAP purchase in a Panera. The point was that maintaining a healthy diet and active, productive life is more difficult than many people realize – when considering the SNAP program and the funding limits involved.

      October 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Reply
      • vbscript2

        Yes, that was obvious and it's still a silly comparison. Panera is on the expensive side for fast food. If you can afford to eat at Panera, you shouldn't be on SNAP. If you're living on a middle-class budget, you shouldn't be on food stamps. It's supposed to be to help poor people get by, not to help middle-class people be able to afford some additional Starbucks (or, in his case, Panera) runs. Listening to self-entitled liberals rant about how they don't have enough when I know for a fact that those very same people indulge in all kinds of expenses that I don't even indulge in as a software engineer frustrates me to no end. If you want to see actual poverty and how much you really have, take a trip to help out in a nation where actual poverty is prevalent. Live a while in Africa or Central America or even in a developing nation like the Philippines and your perspective on how much you have will change dramatically.

        October 23, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  42. Yakobi

    Gotta love the naivete of limousine liberals. You can tell this guy was never poor himself.
    Think his guilt is going to move him to give away his fortune to help the poor? Nope. He's going to call on his fellow elitists to urge Congress to give away more of YOUR tax money so more people can afford to eat in his restaurant.

    October 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Reply
    • Jim Myers

      If you are collecting food stamps, you should not have the option of dining out in restaurants. Welfare is just to help you with basic needs while you better your life. Dining in expensive restaurants is luxury, not a basic need. There are people working hard, paying their hard earned money for people in need, and they cannot afford to dine out.

      October 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Reply
      • Floyd Rogers

        Maybe you are a congressman and work these slaves for wages that are set by those that make hundreds of thousands of dollars and force workers to work for minimum wages and that is why they cannot eat out and more so for those that cannot even make minimum wages. How dare anyone to come against a person that is forced to work for low wages while their bosses and government authorities make laws to keep them at minimum wages? Let everyone make minimum wage and then they will find out how it is to try to survive like an infidel. Try it yourself and take care of your family while all around you you see these lazy people cheating others out of their wages just to gain their fat ways in life. Book of James, King James Bible. Woe to the rich.

        October 13, 2013 at 11:59 am | Reply
      • Stephanie

        Should not have the "option" to eat out?? REALLY??!!! Just because someone receives, not collects, food stamps does not mean they should not have the option of eating out. A lot of people receiving food stamps also work, pay taxes, and pay their bills on time. Society does not have the right to judge....nor do you.

        October 14, 2013 at 9:24 am | Reply
        • nclaw441

          If you can afford to have meals out, you may be receiving too much in benefits.

          October 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  43. Yakobi

    So rich guy playing poor for a while can't afford to eat in his own restaurant.
    Duh! Guess that means your prices are too high, rich guy!
    FYI, I'm not poor and I spend about $5 a day on groceries. How? I make my own meals. They're better tasting and better for me than anything I could order at Panera.

    October 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  44. TLORop

    You all missed the point of the article. Try again.

    October 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Reply
    • kelli

      i agree

      October 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Reply
    • msd250

      Here's the point you're missing: If your getting food stamps or welfare, you should have NO expectation that you can eat at ANY restaurant!

      October 13, 2013 at 10:20 am | Reply
  45. Filthowitz

    Panera is a very liberal establishment. We can only expect this kind of elitism and class division from the far left party of hate.

    October 12, 2013 at 7:17 am | Reply
  46. Jim

    I agree Panera is too expensive. The CEO can either get all of America to increase the food stamp allowance or his one company to lower its prices. Which one will he support?

    October 12, 2013 at 6:57 am | Reply
  47. RLH

    Most people can't afforde to eat at Panera.

    October 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  48. Bill

    I love Panera but even with middle income it is expensive to eat. Two pick two combos and drinks always seem to run me $25. although the food is fresh and delicious I would eat there more often if it were less. But we can go to Subway and get two $5 foot longs loaded with veggies and some meat along with a pop and it would be less then $15. Maybe Mr Shaich should rethink his business model.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • Yakobi

      Why go to Subway when you can make the same thing yourself for a lot less?

      October 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Reply
      • docrock

        I agree. We buy bread at the grocery store and fill it ourselves.

        October 13, 2013 at 9:08 am | Reply
        • akirem

          Go one step further and make the bread yourself! I do, I eat less bread (healthier) and when I do eat bread I know what's in it – and can sub things like wheat and rye flour for white flour and get a very tasty loaf of bread... and I've been told my bread is better than Panera's. A loaf for me costs $2.45 in flour, yeast and salt – and I'm using "fancy" grey salt or pink salt. Yeah, it's a little of my time but you can make an "artisan" sandwich at home for way less.

          October 14, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • Bill

        Time is money.

        October 15, 2013 at 2:21 am | Reply
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