Join the SNAP Food Stamp Challenge | Eat on a Food Stamp Budget

mazon Join the SNAP Food Stamp Challenge | Eat on a Food Stamp Budget

I’m excited to announce that I’m teaming up with two of my blogging buddies to participate in Mazon’s SNAP Food Stamp Challenge this coming week, July 16th – July 22nd, 2012.

Mazon issued the Food Stamp Challenge to help raise awareness for those living in poverty and having to feed themselves and their children only through the benefit of food stamps.

Did you know that 46 million Americans receive food stamps?  That’s one in ever seven people in the United States and almost 25% of all children. Nearly one in four kids.

Participants in the Mazon’s SNAP Challenge must spend no more than $31.50 per person per week – the same amount that food stamp recipients receive. Here are the rules:

  • Each person can spend a total of $31.50 on food and beverages during the Challenge week. This budget translates to $4.50 per day, or $1.50 per meal.
  • Keep all receipts and track all food and beverage spending. Any food or beverages purchased and eaten during the Challenge week must be accounted for in the $31.50/person budget, including any dining out.
  • During the Challenge, eat only food specifically purchased for the Challenge. Do not eat food that was already in your pantry or refrigerator (excluding spices and condiments).

Together with Susie Sharf from the Daily Cheapskate and Chaviva Galatz from the Kvetching Editor, I am looking forward to taking on the SNAP challenge, starting this coming Sunday, July 16th.

Since my family has five people – myself, my husband and our three children (ages 9, 6 and 3), we will have a total weekly budget of $157.50.

Now, truth be told, this exceeds my average weekly budget. I budget $550 – $600 per month for groceries and personal care items, which in a four-week month, works out to be just under the food stamp allotment.

This was my first surprise of the challenge!

I certainly don’t feel like our family is deprived or, G-d forbid, hungry. So, maybe this challenge won’t be as hard as I initially thought?

Of course, having high speed access to the Internet is essential to my money-saving strategies. Do people living in poverty and receiving food stamps have at-home access to high speed Internet? I wonder if I could do this without access to my favorite money-saving blogs – not to mention my at-home printer (printing coupons) and newspaper subscription?

And what about my stockpile of pasta, cereal, condiments, and much more? Those penny-on-the-dollar items are the backbone of my money-saving savvy. (More on that in an upcoming post.) Do those living in poverty have the space and accommodations – not to mention safe transportation – to buy in advance and stockpile to save?

So, yes, this might be a true challenge after all!

Chaviva, Susie and I have two simple goals for our participation in the SNAP Challenge:

  1. To build awareness and engender empathy for those among us living in poverty and receiving food stamps, who have no choice but to spend only $31.50 per person per week on food.
  2. To demonstrate that with a little effort and strategizing, one can eat well and healthily, while still being frugal.

Please follow along with me, as I practice strategic shopping and menu planning to see if we can meet the SNAP Food Stamp Challenge.  

I will be sharing my purchases and meal preparation throughout next week, along with my – and my family’s – feelings about this challenge.

If you don’t yet know my fellow SNAP Challenge bloggers, let me encourage you to visit their blogs. Susie, aka the Daily Cheapskate, lives in Denver and is both a web designer and a popular frugal blogger.  Chaviva, aka the Kvetching Editor, also lives in Denver and was named as one of the NJOP top ten Jewish influencers in social media for 2012 for her well-known blog about conversion and all things Jewish.

The three of us thought it would be interesting to take on this SNAP challenge to demonstrate what living on food stamps might look like for people in different lifestyle situations: a family (me), a married couple, (Susie) and a single person (Chaviva).  Chaviva has the added challenge of being both a vegan and gluten-free.

(Actor Joshua Malina is taking the SNAP Challenge this week.  You can follow his efforts on his Tumblr blog here.)

Would you like to join us? Please let me know in the comments section below. All are welcome!

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. One question I didn’t see addressed, food stamps are not taxed, so is that 31.50 for the week to spend after taxes for this challenge?

  2. Hi Mara,

    I found this post via Twitter. I think it’s great that you guys are taking on the Snap challenge because it will definitely raise awareness. I’m writing to answer some of your ending questions.

    You wrote:

    Of course, having high speed access to the Internet is essential to my money-saving strategies. Do people living in poverty and receiving food stamps have at-home access to high speed Internet? I wonder if I could do this without access to my favorite money-saving blogs – not to mention my at-home printer (printing coupons) and newspaper subscription?

    And what about my stockpile of pasta, cereal, condiments, and much more? Those penny-on-the-dollar items are the backbone of my money-saving savvy. (More on that in an upcoming post.) Do those living in poverty have the space and accommodations – not to mention safe transportation – to buy in advance and stockpile to save?

    To the first and second questions, the quick answer is it depends. If you’re a family with children, you often have access to services other than food stamps that will suplement what you’re getting. But if you’re a single person, both the amount of food stamps you receive and the amount of other services you’re eligible for decreases drastically. For instance, I’m a single woman with no children. I’m out of work, so I receive social security disability insurance, which totals about $910. This amount, however, puts me over the income limit that would allow me to receive food stamps. If someone is receiving suplemental security income, which is income you receive if you’re disabled and have never worked, you will get at least $16 a month in food stamps assuming you’re receiving the full amount of $674 per month. So depending on whether or not said person is eligible for Section 8 housing, or whether or not there is actually housing available, they might have access to the internet, or a newspaper subscription, but usually not both. Also, the amount of food stamps you can get changes from state to state. I know some people who are receiving some sort of disability and getting close to $300 per month, and then I know others who are getting only about $16 per month, because as long as they’re receiving SSI, they have to get something, so they get the minimum amount. I’m sorry for rambling so much. I wish you luck during your challenge because if you’re successfull, I can come back here for the recipes and money saving tips. :P. I am adding your blog to my RSS reader.

    Amanda

    • Thanks, Amanda. I’m looking forward to sharing my findings. I was definitely thinking that having more people helps. That way I can buy some items that are more expensive and “absorb” the cost over all five of us. I’ll be sure to update!

  3. Oh, I forgot to put my Twitter username in here so you know who I am. My Twitter username is megarush1024.

  4. Wow! Good for you! I didn’t realize that poverty was so widespread (though considering the economy, I guess it’s not such a shock). $31.50 does not seem like very much at all, and I think you’re on target assuming that people living below the poverty line may not have access to the tools we use to live frugally.

    Kol hakavod for bringing attention to this important, and underpublicized, issue.

  5. As a foodstamp recipient, I’d like to suggest a few changes. Foodstamps don’t cover dining out. they don’t cover fast food. So, I personally don’t think that dining out should be included in this challenge. If you want to know what it’s like for those of us who are on this plan, you should follow exactly the same restrictions we have to follow. Make sure you’re aware of what is and what isn’t allowed on the plan, and only shop at stores that take the EBT card, even though you’re not using the card. I think this is an interesting thing you’re doing, but I just hope that those who join do it with a sincere attitude and really try to get something out of it. For many of us, foodstamps aren’t by choice, and we’re trying to get out of the situations that we’re in.

    • Thank you, C.C. Points well taken!

    • Hi C. C. – You’re absolutely right that SNAP doesn’t cover dining out, and we completely understand your position about our decision to include restaurants and fast food as part of the #SNAP4aWeek challenge. Our goal in promoting that people participate is to increase awareness of food insecurity and build an army of advocates who demand that our policymakers in DC improve the system. The more people who participate, the bigger the army can be, so we made a few concessions. (And from those who have been in touch with us this week, NO ONE is eating out – even the cheapest fast food is too expensive!)

      You are one of 46 million Americans who must rely on SNAP to put food on the table. There is no way for people participating in a week-long empathy-building exercise to TRULY know what it’s like for you.

      We’d welcome the opportunity to hear about your experience – how you came to be on SNAP and the challenges you face. The more personal a face we can put on food insecurity, the better. One of our staff members wrote an article for our recent Spring newsletter about her experience on SNAP for a year, which I’m happy to share. Please send me an email if you’d be willing to talk.

      • I agree, Michelle – I assume the reality is that those on Food Stamps probably can’t afford to dine out at all.

  6. Suri Fineberg says:

    In NY, that amount of money for food gets you very little, and some families I work with can’t even make it to the end of the week. If they can’t stretch it, they go hungry until they can shop again.

  7. Tzipporah says:

    I also wanted to add, don’t forget that this is ONLY available for food. It doesn’t cover gas getting to and from grocery stores, it doesn’t cover diapers, it doesn’t pay for when your kid needs shoes b/c his feet are poking through. It doesn’t cover birthday cakes for your daughter on her 7th birthday. It doesn’t include holidays or Shabbos or any extra “fun” thing.
    This challenge doesn’t seem like much if you have a “grocery budget” of $500 per month already, because like you said–you have access to internet, time to search for deals, a printer, a phone and I assume a decent place and space to live and store foods in, and a car/van to get it all home with.

    For people riding on buses or limited to walking there is NO SUCH THING as buying in bulk. You are subjected to the closest store’s prices, no matter how high. (Convenience stores and local “Mom and Pop” stores are notoriously expensive.)

    Another thought–often when someone is sick specialty foods are bought. Chicken soup, special teas… whatever. All of that also comes from the Food Stamp Budget too. No going over allowed, no matter how good the cause.

    And last, but not least– just because 31.50 is the max allowed by the state (for example) doesn’t mean you will qualify… or for that matter even if you DO qualify for it, they often make it difficult or impossible to be able to receive the benefits you do qualify for.

    My husband lost his job a while back and we made do for a long time, but it finally came between us having no food and shelter and so I sought assistance. I qualify for my family something around $700 per month. I received that once–and it was immeasurably helpful! AT that rate I could keep up with my bills (just the basics) and afford enough nutrition for my kids every day. I was excited! Thrilled! I profusely thanked the person at the desk at Human Resources. I cried with relief that I could feed my kids for a whole month!
    But after that I have been declined for unknown reason, set back to various amount (currently 183.00 per month) and kicked from supervisor to supervisor. I’ve met ALL requirements, never been late, never been irresponsible, and always paid my taxes. I COMPLETELY qualify and no matter who I talk to I can’t get help. They wont return calls, they wont let me speak with them in person, an they don’t return my mail. It is both embarrassing and humiliating. What am I told every time I do finally talk to someone? That I must have filled out the papers wrong and so I need to “re-submit”. This is the SEVENTH time I have re-submitted my papers and this time they docked by food stamp credit instead of raising it.

    I am just like you or anyone else. I work long hard hours with my husband to provide for our family. I am ethical, moral and I ALWAYS lend a hand when I have one to give. I have always stuck by a strict budget. I have no consumer debt. I live very frugally! I am educated, smart and good at making a dollar stretch. I have NO history of mental illness nor drug abuse. I am as “normal” and “typical” as they come. And finally there was this totally unexpected event in our lives that has turned us into “needy” people. And now? I am horrified that anyone has to live this way. Struggling day to day (literally) to feed my kids and keep the electric on is so unreal. It takes the majority of my time.

    Please keep these things in mind while you’re shopping this week.

    • Thanks, Tzipporah for sharing your experience. I absolutely will be carrying your experience and all the others of those who have shared with me this week.

      I am very sorry to hear what a struggle the last period has been for you. The red tape sounds maddening :( Have you contacted Jewish Social Services? They might have the ability to assist you with less hoops to jump through.

      xo

      • Tzipporah says:

        Thanks Mara,

        yes Jewish Social Services does help. thank God! But to be honest, that’s charity and it shouldn’t have to depend on them. We all pay into the system to be able to help others and ourselves during the hard time. Government assistance ISN’T Charity. It’s a fund that we pay into and elect the officials we trust most to divide it properly. When they don’t people suffer and real charities have to pick up the slack. I adore our local JSSA because they are been such a blessing whenever they can afford to be. I can’t wait to be back on my feet and donate back to them.

        Another thing I wanted to say is that the constant crap (sorry but it’s crap) I read from people who have never been on assistance such as a comment below about someone’s sister seeing people spend money on ice cream and steak, drives me batty. Firstly, it’s hear-say and you have no idea of the circumstances behind it. Secondly–living in poverty is highly demoralizing as it is. Not just as an adult, but to the kids. A gallon of ice cream now and then can make a world of difference in the morale. Seriously, people can’t afford to send their kids to all the awesome summer events, but once in a while they can sit on their own patio, balcony or kitchen and enjoy a bowl of ice cream and feel like everyone else for a few minutes. If that is a bother to some well-t0-do person who’s never had to go without anything before and never had to tell their kids the couldn’t have a treat now and again–then I really don’t care. I honestly can’t understand such a cold and hard outlook on life–and on human beings!
        Sure, there are people who screw with the system, I can’t deny that. But why is that people are judged by a handful of bad seeds? Poor people are poor. Nothing more, nothing less. They are like everyone else, but with less money. They aren’t stupid, ignorant or malicious anymore than anyone else. And I dare say they have a far better appreciation for the value of a dollar than most people in this world.

        Think twice before judging because that could be you in line with a birthday steak for you husband (the only present you could afford) or a gallon of ice cream for your son who just learned to use the potty and will be saving you $$$ in diaper costs!

  8. knaidel says:

    That’s actually quite a bit more than I spend normally, and that’s INCLUDING my stockpiling trips (I’m not a mega stockpiler but I do stock up and then live on that for a while. I’m not much of a couponer at all so that doesn’t even factor in, I just generally try to stick to less expensive stores, brands, and products, and stock up on sales of staple goods.) And that’s even though I buy a lot of things more expensive for kashrus reasons.

    Also you’re able to qualify for food stamps and WIC at the same time, so for a family with young enough children that sounds like PLENTY.

    • Tzipporah says:

      It’s a blessing–which many people poverty-stricken people don’t have–t0 be able to shop around to all the inexpensive stores. You bring up a good point, actually! When I was making more money, oddly enough, I was able to spend less money in groceries! I took advantage of sales, discounts, coupons… whatever. Drove from store to store to get the bets deals. I felt like such a success and patted myself on the back regularly. Now, I realize that this isn’t everyone’s reality.

      Plus of course, having small kids makes things easier. It’s the teen that eat you out of house and home! :)

  9. I’ll do it, with two variances from the rules that I don’t think are contrary to the intention:

    (1) I’m single. I typically buy some foods that I’ll likely use for this in quantities that last more than a week, so I’ll count only the portion used.

    (2) I live in the midbar and the supply of kosher meat is unpredictable. If I use any meat at all, it will probably be from the freezer, and therefore not bought specifically for the challenge, but I’ll account for the cost.

    And a question: The least costly (but lawful) way to obtain bread is to bake it at home. Is it cricket (kosher?) to use a bread machine, since I already have one?

    On the tax question: if the issue is that you pay for food with income that has been taxed, that issue isn’t relevant to this challenge, because the challenge is only about food spending. If the issue is that you live in a state where there is sales tax on food (Oklahoma comes to mind), I think that the local rules should apply.

    • I think as long as you account for what you use – whether it was purchased that week or not, it’s okay, Paul. I’m glad you’ll be joining me!

      I am debating whether or not to count on my stockpile, and just account for the cost (often free or pennies on the dollar). Or really embrace the challenge and try to do it from scratch. I’m very aware that many of food stamps probably also don’t have the room to store food like I do in my basement. That is a luxury, that I don’t appreciate enough!

      Interesting about the bread machine – I think it’s “kosher”, IMO, but I agree … it’s another luxury that we have to appreciate and take into consideration as we experience the Challenge.

  10. Rivka H. says:

    I was surprised when I saw that our theoretical food stamp allowance ($252/week for 8 people) was higher than what I budget for food and paper goods. But reading your questions about the program and some of the comments here I realize that there’s a lot more to the food budget than just the dollar amount. I live adjacent to a very poor area, and I see people doing things to get their food that I would never have to: taking a taxi to Aldi because they don’t drive; walking (with or without children) to Aldi or Walgreens (if they live closest to Walgreens than any other food store, guess how much they’re paying for milk!); mothers waiting with their small kids in the rain or extreme heat at the bus stop.

    It really makes me appreciate having these other “luxuries” that allow me to make decisions about how I spend my family’s money.

    • Yes, that was the same process for me, Rivka. I’ve also been thinking of all the help I have from my family and the luxury of being able to work from home.

      Not to mention the kitchen appliances I have that make the job of cooking from scratch far easier!

  11. I have very mixed feelings on foodstamps and this project.

    I know for a fact that there are those people who truly need the foodstamps and are honestly trying to fix their situation, not just live off of the government.

    BUT my sister works at Wal-Mart and daily watches people using foodstamps AND buying alcohol, cigarettes and more fun food items like steak and icecream with their own money. It’s frustrating to see something like this happen so often.

    In my most humble opinion, the government could keep the budget the same, but change the screening process, therefore eliminating those who are taking advantage of the system, and give the surplus funds to those who are really in need.

    Again, I completely understand the need for food stamps, and I understand 30 dollars isn’t a lot of money for food, but if it were just given to those in honest need, the government wouldn’t need to increase the budget in this area.

    I also understand the idea behind this project, however increasing government spending at all is just going to increase our taxes…just looking at the big picture and trying to offer and alternative solution. :-)

    • I appreciate your views – and this post has certainly brought up a lot of interesting opinions and experiences already!

      Politics aside… I think this Challenge is a great opportunity for me – and hopefully some of my readers – to deepen our understanding of the experience of poverty. I don’t think a conservative or liberal agenda is necessary for empathy! At least I hope not :-)

  12. Annoymous in OP says:

    When my husband was out of work we tried to apply for food stamp (SNAP). But, I guess B”H, we didn’t qualify. You have to have less than $2000 in savings/checking account. I can’t even imagine having that little, you would be living totally off SNAP and your most recent pay check.
    We did and do still qualify for WIC and Medicaid. These are lifesavers. We also get help from the local food pantry. You don’t really think about all the kids that don’t have enough food until you see it in person. When waiting to get into our appts at WIC the room is FILLED with children. And these children are only up to age 5 (then you don’t qualify). If you are late you have reschedule because there are too many people waiting.
    There a lot of kids out there, even in upper middle class counties where you wouldn’t there would be.

  13. stephanie says:

    I have friends who are foster parents (foster children on WIC are a family of one) who usually do not bother to use it much because organic bread, tortillas, beans, eggs, peanut butter, milk, cheese and infant foods are not allowed even when on sale/clearance with a coupon that makes it the cheaper option. They have a farm and will not feed their foster children food they wouldn’t feed their own kids.
    If you are doing the challenge and including WIC in the budget the restrictive brand list of allowed foods is something to think about.

  14. Marjorie says:

    Mara, I am an avid follower of your blog, and I hope that your participation in the Challenge will be educational for you and your readers. I am a social worker in New York City, and as someone who routinely works with food stamp recipients, I’d like to respond to some of the earlier comments.

    First, to the young lady whose sister works at Walmart: SNAP cannot be used for alcohol, tobacco, vitamins, hot food, or nonfood items; while I’m certainly not a fan of smoking, I believe it is unreasonable to expect those who fall into poverty to suddenly free themselves of addictions (it’s harder than you might think) or go without wine on Friday nights or ice cream on a loved one’s birthday. Does your sister question each and every customer who uses their EBT card as to why they’re buying those “luxury” items? Does she demand to know the circumstances behind their low socioeconomic status? It’s easy to make negative judgments and sweeping generalizations when you have little knowledge.

    Second, to Mara, it is often the case that SNAP recipients don’t have access to the tools you have at your disposal in order to live a frugal lifestyle. Please don’t take for granted the fact that you have a computer, printer, money to purchase paper and ink cartridges for printing coupons, and the ability to buy less expensive and bulk items via the internet. Many times, recipients do not even have a real grocery store anywhere near their neighborhoods (many poorer New Yorkers have access only to bodegas), let alone a car to drive to the closest supermarket. And no, the free newspapers do not contain coupons…

    • Tzipporah says:

      Marjorie– thank you for writing this! It brought a smile to my face. I will say that I think Mara seems to have a pretty good insight that her experience will not actually mimic the experiences that a poverty-stricken family has. My only worry is that some of the readers here seemed to think this whole thing all boiled down to an issue of proper budgeting–which obviously is more than a bit naive.

      Mara, I am REALLY looking forward to reading how your experience goes.

      • Marjorie says:

        Tzipporah, thank YOU for writing about your experiences — you are truly a brave woman, and I wish you and your family a speedy recovery, both financially and emotionally, from your ordeal! At the risk of sounding too indignant and detracting from the beauty of Mara’s efforts (my blood was boiling as I began to read some of the remarks yesterday), I believe that naivete does not begin to account for some of the negative or self-congratulatory comments I have read thus far… The attribution of poverty to the moral and intellectual shortcomings of aid recipients has a long and ugly history in the United States, as is a defense mechanism people use to excuse their lack of empathy for others and to fool themselves into believing it could never happen to them…

  15. Thanks everyone for making this discussion so rich in fact and experience. I wanted to try the challenge when a local synagogue brought it up, but didn’t get enough information at the time to know what counted. I think that shopping frugally and being sensitive to the time and cost of the hard work that gets us our income is a already a step in the right direction to being empathetic and helping our neighbors. It’s stunning how many luxuries we have and how few those who are out of work, etc. can afford. Always gotta be thankful! Another thing we can all do is encourage our workplaces to hold food drives! It helps everyone and you never know how much you might collect from someone who needed an easy opportunity to give.

  16. We unfortunately live on food stamps. Thank G-d where we live it SHOULD be enough… except that we can’t get kosher meat or chalav yisrael dairy locally. There is no store in our state that carries the dairy, so WIC, which would ordinarily be the key to make it all work, isn’t practical for us. Yes it would get us some beans and peanut butter, but it’s a LOT of trips to a distant office.

    Having a larger family definitely helps, as I am able to stock up on things when they are on sale. Far too often though we have to live from the pantry (no fresh fruits or veggies) for the last week or two. I am grateful that there IS food in the pantry though!

  17. As a reference point, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, compiles monthly statistics on the average cost of food. These are based on four different pre-defined menu plans: thrifty, low-cost, moderate-cost, and liberal.

    The “thrifty” plan is the cheapest. For a man my age, the May 2012 amount was $38.20; for a woman the same age, it was $36.60.

    The May figures are at http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodMay2012.pdf. If you want to see what foods and quantities were used to compute them, there are links to the menu plans at the foot of the page.

    • An addendum: The market basket used in the calculations contains more vegetables, fruit, and milk products than the average American eats, because it’s supposed to represent a nutritious diet (according to USDA guidelines, which are controversial), not a typical diet.

      • Tzipporah says:

        Very interesting Paul! It seems they put a lot of work into trying to come up with a good thrifty diet.

        Unfortunately, not matter how great it looks on paper, the reality is it’s a absolute best-case scenario thrifty-plan option. In reality people don’t all require the same “nutrition” which of course makes it difficult. Some people cannot eat foods which they are allergic to (nuts, dairy, wheat/gluten) which means supplementing with foods of usually higher costs. And many people through out there life have health-related situations which means they must be very careful of their food intake. (Heart problems, food allergies, thyroid disease, cancer, bone density problems… whatever).

        The government tends to put things into best case scenarios which of course is understandable from that point of view. It’s the only way to apply a mathematical formula. And it would be terrific if say all the poverty-stricken people on the planet could manage to be very healthy for the duration of their lives. Of course, as we all know, the income you have is often correlated the health treatment (preventative and curative) one can receive–meaning that by and large there are more starving sick people than starving well people.

        I think it serves people well to realize that A) obviously this is a good starting place. You have to start somewhere in analyzing the best for the most people to get the maximum benefits spread through out. and B) just because there is a formula that fits when you apply statistically to an average, doesn’t mean it will actually work unless you can manage factoring all costs.

        I don’t have a great solution to this, after all. But I think having a true understanding of both sides of the poverty issue go a long way in helping people.

  18. i’m an end stage cancer fighter living with my daughter on my SSI(I worked for my ex-husband for many years, no paycheck, and so do not qualify for disability now). After 6 plus years of struggling, this past month I applied for EBT. We will receive US$68 a month. In the summer we will be able to make do, but if I survive to this winter things will be very difficult(B”H, I am headed for a stem cell transplant, and may receive more time from it!), as we will need to buy heating oil here in NJ, and I’ve hit the limit on my credit card this past winter. In reality we are such a wealthy nation, it shames me that folks who need in our nation are given so little. I know so many people who live in multi-million dollar homes and can afford every luxury, and they deserve to! BUT, what of the folks like me? I am so blessed that I am knowledgable of how to bake from scratch, and how to make beans and other nutritious and inexpensive foods(we eat a lot of grains and bananas). It isn’t easy or fun, but it has been doable, albeit not at 31.50 per person a week all of the time. We RARELY eat any meat or cheese- firstly, we have to drive a long way from our current home in South Jersey to find kosher meats and cheeses, secondly, it is not financially smart to even buy a chicken once a month. My husband left us when I first became ill, and I have never been able to recover financially. The ridiculous, judgmental and ignorant, self righteous attitude of at least one of the writers here saddens me. I only hope that my child does not ever grow to feel so inhospitable towards other human beings. As well, a person who works or shops at Walmart is part of the problem- they are a company that has had a lot to do with the current financial downfall of the lower middle to poor classes in the US, a company that, instead of offering it’s workers benefits, gives them instructions on how to file for government benefits. I know this is a fact because I know people who have worked for Walmart. It is a terrible thing when such a large corporation is unwilling to pay a living wage, or offer benefits to it’s employees. In fact, the town that we live in is dying, because Walmart came here, closing down every small business in it’s path.

  19. Amaranth says:

    A few things that might be of use:

    If you get some sourdough starter going, it reduces the cost of all sorts of bread. Only cook as much as you can eat in a day as it doesn’t have preservatives. If you do have leftovers, there are lots of things that can be done with day old bread though.

    Any of the books on making bread this way in an average of 5 minutes a day can usually be gotten from the library and the info helps it fit into a usual day:
    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

    Consider how different parts of the food can be safely used for different dishes. For example:
    1) If you take chicken off the bone before serving it, the bones can be used for soup stock.
    2) If you bake potatoes and scoop out the potato to make mashed potatoes, you can cut each remaining skin half into 4 parts and make potato skins.
    3) If you cut an apple into slices before serving it, you can take out the seeds and stem and cook the core. The cooked core can be used as applesauce, flavoring for oatmeal, made into applebutter, etc.
    4) Does anyone have additional suggestions like this?

  20. It was interesting to read about this challenge. This amount is higher than I budget for my family of four. I try to spend less then $400 a month everything else from the grocery store: soap and paper towels, toilet paper and more. As for fresh produce, I spend about $30 a week.

  21. From an Israeli perspective I think that food stamps sounds wonderful because so many people here would love to have such a system. Instead, they get food boxes from chesed organizations.
    Also the chessed orgs are bombarded with so many requests, that many needy people miss out.
    So Yay for food stamps! (and here’s hoping that all the truly needy will get them, like they should!)

Leave a Comment

*