The Food Stamp Challenge

Two Flyer staffers try to eat for a week on $22.47

| May 31, 2007

We're a nation and a city that likes to eat and eat a lot.

Memphis just wrapped up its annual barbecue contest that turns Tom Lee Park into a festival of pork and beer. For two years in a row, Men's Fitness magazine has recognized Memphis as one of America's Ten Fattest Cities. We like fried chicken, fried catfish, and fried pies. The ads and restaurant listings in this and other newspapers are a testament to Memphians' love of food that's good, if not necessarily good for you. On the Food Network this week, celebrity chef and "intrepid tourist" Rachael Ray shows viewers how to eat out in Memphis on "only $40 a day."

$40 a day? Are you kidding?

There is another side to the story. In Shelby County, 178,000 people get food stamps. According to the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS), the average allotment for recipients is $96.69 a month or $22.47 for one week. Local DHS counselors say monthly payments range from less than $50 to over $1,000 for a single mother with 10 children. An impoverished single person with no income or housing, for example, would get $155 a month in food stamps, but, earned income, welfare, and other assistance typically reduce that amount. All told, Shelby Countians received more than $18 million in food stamps for the month of April.

Following the lead of four members of Congress who also took the "National Food Stamp Challenge" in May, two Flyer reporters set out to see what it is like to eat on $22.47 for one week. The food stamp program is up for reauthorization this year, and some members of Congress are calling for an increase in benefits.

In a Memphis grocery store, $22 doesn't go very far. Fresh fruit such as apples at $1.79 a pound or fresh fish at $4.50 a pound takes a big bite out of the budget. Cheaper cuts of meat, whole chickens, hamburger with a high fat content, canned tuna fish, potatoes, milk, dry cereal, and pasta are good budget stretchers and reasonably healthy and filling. Potato chips, soft drinks, and other snacks are budget busters. So are even occasional meals at fast-food restaurants, where a meal can easily cost $5.

A $22 budget does not lend itself to healthy eating. Just the opposite appears to be true, which helps account for the presence of cities with large percentages of poor people on those "fattest city" lists.

"Most food stamp recipients seem to purchase high-starch foods and high-fat foods that are less perishable than fresh fruits and vegetables," says Sandra Shivers, head of the Tennessee Nutrition and Consumer Education Program at the University of Tennessee. "However, less healthful food choices in the long term tend to cause increases in weight rather than weight loss. It is difficult to make healthful food choices on a limited budget."

Richard Dobbs, director of food stamp policy for DHS, says food stamps supplement rather than replace the entire food budget for most recipients, with earned income, school free-lunch programs, and local food banks filling the gaps.

"Once upon a time, the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour was supposed to be sufficient to keep a person off food stamps," says Dobbs.

That is no longer the case. Even the $10 an hour "living wage" approved last week by the Shelby County Commission would still make some people eligible for food stamp assistance. For a family of three, the food stamp threshold is a monthly gross income of $1,799, which is slightly more than the $1,600 a month a person would earn working 40 hours a week at $10 an hour.

In emergencies, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) will issue families vouchers for a five-day supply of food from one of 32 local food pantries. The amount differs by family size, but for a single person to get the minimum amounts for a nutritionally balanced diet, the pantry should give them four cans of vegetables, three cans of fruit, three packages of dried milk, cereal, pasta or rice, peanut butter, tuna, peas or beans, two "main dishes" such as canned beef stew or chili, and a loaf of bread. By Flyer calculations, that costs about $22.

"If you are getting food stamps, sometimes at the end of the month, you might run out," says Ina Lang, MIFA's food pantry coordinator. "You might have a power outage or something, and your food spoils."

MIFA sees about 25 to 30 families each day. That number spikes in the summer when children are out of school and do not have access to free breakfasts and lunches, and during holidays.

"It's just not enough to carry them through the month," Lang says of the program's clients. "At the first of each month, we have a slowdown because people are getting their checks and their food stamps are coming in."

Dobbs says the key to a reasonably healthy lifestyle on food stamps is "plan your menus and your leftovers."

Flyer reporters quickly learned that in our experiment. Here's what we bought and what we ate.

John Branston's shopping list

Bread ($1.49); peanut butter ($1.39); can of chicken broth (79 cents); box of Spanish rice mix (79 cents); box of Hamburger Helper ($2); gallon of 2 percent milk ($3.33); two pounds hamburger ($4.90); one pound carrots (89 cents); one can of tomatoes (89 cents); one can black beans (89 cents); three pounds of white potatoes ($1.49); three ears of corn ($1); one box of generic-brand corn flakes ($1.99); one-pound bag of long-grain rice ($1); half-dozen eggs (79 cents). Total: $23.63. (There is no sales tax on food stamp purchases.)

Midwestern baby boomers like me were raised to believe milk would keep you healthy if you didn't eat or drink anything else. A gallon would cover cereal and one meal each day. Carrots and corn were a nod to fresh food. Lean hamburger and $1.49 bread costs more but goes farther. The total of $23.63 was over target by $1.16, but DHS assumes there is something in the pantry at the beginning and end of the week. In this case, I did not count coffee, tea bags for iced tea, one pack of saltine crackers, salt and pepper and spices, margarine, and a half jar of jelly.

Friday: Breakfast of coffee, cereal and milk, toast and jam. Lunch of Spanish rice mixed with canned tomatoes and black beans with water to drink. Dinner of peanut butter sandwich and milk.

Comment: Rice mix was hearty, tasty, filling, and should last three meals.

Saturday: Breakfast of coffee, cereal and milk, and toast. Lunch of scrambled eggs, toast, crackers and peanut butter. Dinner of corn, baked potato, milk, and a hamburger.

Comment: Hungry, but the big hamburger helped.

Sunday: Breakfast of cereal and milk, toast, and coffee. Lunch of leftover Spanish rice mix. Dinner of leftover hamburger on bread, carrots, milk, and crackers with peanut butter.

Comment: Good thing I like leftovers. Crackers and peanut butter are filling.

Monday: Breakfast of cereal and milk, toast and coffee. Lunch of Spanish rice leftovers. Dinner of hamburger casserole made with one pound of burger plus Hamburger Helper, one ear of corn, and milk.

Comment: Hamburger casserole tastes better than it looks, but it is supposed to make five servings. I ate almost half of it, or about 700 calories' worth.

Tuesday: Breakfast of cereal and milk, toast, and two scrambled eggs. Lunch of leftover casserole. Dinner of more leftover casserole, peanut butter sandwich, milk, and carrots.

Comment: I have lost a few pounds but am not too hungry. My wife says the casserole smells pretty good. But who has a scraper in the age of baby carrots?

Wednesday: Breakfast of cereal and milk, toast, and coffee. Lunch of rice cooked in chicken broth with curry powder and a peanut butter sandwich. Dinner of the rest of the rice plus an ear of corn and milk.

Comment: Rice is tasty and broth gives it flavor and some calories.

Thursday: Breakfast of cereal and milk, coffee, toast, and last two eggs. Lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwich, crackers, raw carrots. Dinner of baked potato, milk, carrots, and crackers.

Comment: Last day and a good thing. No meat, nothing left but part of a jar of peanut butter and half a bag of rice from the original shopping trip. In the real world, I would scrounge some free pizza or fruit to fill up.

Freebies for the week: One beer from a friend at a Redbirds game, one beer at a Saturday-night music event, one banana, two diet Cokes, one bowl of instant oatmeal scrounged from office break room as a snack.

Best buy: Gallon of milk.

Best dish: Zatarain's Spanish rice mix with black beans and tomatoes.

Worst buy: None. No margin for error. You buy it, you eat it.

Cravings: Not-from-concentrate orange juice.

Out of the question: Eating out, wine, fresh fish, and fresh vegetables.

Registered dietician Carrie Barker comments: "You were consuming an average of 2,200 calories each day, including the food freebies you listed. You need an estimated 2,600 calories a day to maintain your current body weight, so it's no wonder you lost weight." — JB

Mary Cashiola's shopping list

Box of cereal bars (eight for $1.77); a pound of rice (81 cents); pound of angel-hair spaghetti (68 cents); can of tuna (60 cents); jar of salsa ($1.19); can of pasta sauce (85 cents); dozen eggs ($1.07); cheddar cheese ($1.81); frozen spinach (66 cents); head of iceberg lettuce (99 cents); two cucumbers ($1.36); garlic (27 cents); tomato (71 cents); five Roma tomatoes (96 cents); onion (33 cents); three two-liter bottles of generic soda ($2.43); red grapes ($1.14); half-loaf of bread (79 cents); small jar of peanut butter ($1.37); small jar of honey ($1.50). Total: $21.29.

The cheery sign hanging above the mountains of artichokes, blankets of leafy greens, and bundles of asparagus is mocking me. "Five a day for better health" it reads, right underneath a picture of a happy sun.

The sun may be smiling, but I am not. I am determined to include fresh fruit and vegetables in my food stamp diet, but it is not going to be easy.

Some, like Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, one of the congressmen who took the "food stamp challenge," say it can't be done. I think he's probably right. I have roughly $22 for the week. And fruit — even in early summer — is expensive.

Navel oranges are $1 each. A bag of regular oranges is $6. A package of six Red Delicious apples is $1.98.

I have my heart set on red seedless grapes, which are priced at $2.38 a pound. I pick up a normal-sized bag and place it on the scale. It's a friggin' pound and a half. That's no good.

I replace it and pick up a much smaller bag. Think six grapes on a twig. This I can afford.

My colleague John Branston planned his week's food in meals. I think this is the smart way to go. But if I bought things I never eat, I wouldn't last a day.

To maintain both a healthy diet and one with enough calories, the experts say to cook foods from scratch and avoid snacks and empty calories. Prepackaged foods are out, as are convenience foods. Not that it always happens that way.

"People want to be able to have snack foods at home," says Donna Downen, an agent with the local office of the University of Tennessee's agricultural extension office who specializes in consumer sciences. "At the grocery store, you can buy potato chips with food stamps. I can't tell you that you can't use your food stamp money on chips, that you need to buy fresh potatoes."

When planning my budget, I started with my own personal staples, those things I simply cannot live without — cucumbers, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and soda — and worked around them.

I end up buying a box of cereal bars, rice, angel-hair spaghetti, one can of tuna, a jar of salsa, a can of pasta sauce, a dozen eggs, cheddar cheese, frozen spinach, a head of iceberg lettuce, two cucumbers, garlic, a tomato, five Roma tomatoes, an onion, two two-liter bottles of generic soda, and the red grapes. My grand total is $16.82, which means I have about $5.50 for the end of the week. I assume I'll have to spend that on starch or maybe bread and peanut butter. Other than the soda, I plan on drinking water.

Day one goes okay. I eat a cereal bar for breakfast and have my usual salad and grapes for lunch. But I didn't consider a mid-afternoon snack. By 5 o'clock, I'm ready to go home. I've got to eat.

I make rice with spinach and sautéed onions for dinner and pop open my generic soda. Instead of eating the entire two servings, I put some rice aside for tomorrow's lunch, but I'm hungry enough to eat it all now. I debate: How much can I eat now? How much will I need tomorrow?

This will be my downfall: portion control. Downen says maintaining portion sizes and buying the right foods are the only ways to eat healthily and stay within budget.

"Sometimes people are so hungry, they eat more than they should," she says. "A lot of times we say, I don't want to have the same thing two days in a row. But if you buy something that's four servings and you only eat two, nutrition-wise, you get the most economic benefit if you eat it the next day. But most times we don't want to do that."

When I wake up the second day, I'm hungry. I eat a cereal bar before work, but I'm feeling a little light-headed on the drive in. The feeling subsides by mid-morning, but I eat another cereal bar just to make sure. This means I am down to one cereal bar a day for the rest of the week.

Lunch is the rice concoction from last night — I remember that I hate day-old rice — and a salad. On the other hand, I do love cucumbers. And the tomato is sweet and hearty. I savor it.

Dinner is an omelet, with spinach (saved from last night's dinner), tomato, onion, and cheese. It is very good.

On day three, some of my friends are getting together for a pasta dinner. I have never looked so forward to a potluck.

By this time, I have realized that my diet is simply not sustainable. I'm liking the food that I've chosen, but it's simply not enough. I'm being driven to distraction by hunger.

The dietician's report confirms my feelings. My daily caloric intake should be 1,710 calories per day, but my daily average for the week is only 1,600.

For the rest of the week, I have cereal bars for breakfast and salads for lunch and the rest of the eggs for protein. I save my grapes for the last day's lunch.

Dinner one night is rice and tuna, and the rest of the days, dinner is spaghetti with sauce and cheese. I use the rest of my budget for peanut butter, half a loaf of bread, honey, and another soda and add it to the mix for a cheese sandwich and what my mom used to call honey bear sandwiches for snacks.

I am ashamed to add that the one thing that kept me going was knowing that my hunger pangs were only temporary.

"Unfortunately," says Sandra Shivers, with the University of Tennessee Extension Service, "we do have individuals who have no other food source other than food stamps.

"Your experiment is a realistic view of what food stamp families go through, but remember: They go from week to week with no real end in sight. We have seen individuals who do a good job of managing these resources, and we have seen some who do not. It is possible to live on this amount per week, but, as you see, it takes a great amount of work."

Freebies for the week: two chocolate chip and raisin cookies and half a strawberry at a lecture, three adult beverages at a dance club, a piece of pizza at a get-together.

Worst buy: the salsa. I thought I would use it on rice and with my omelet, but I didn't.

Best buy: I've gotta go with the angel hair and sauce. For roughly $1.50, I got a good four meals out of it. Of course, I could have done better. A pound of angel hair is supposed to be eight servings. — MC

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Comments (17)

Showing 1-17 of 17

Very interesting article. I'm sure I'm not the only one who will comment on John and Mary's selections, but... Where's the Ramen?!?

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Posted by John Coyote on 05/31/2007 at 4:02 PM

I was raised living on the types of "creative" meal planning the challenge presented for just one week, yet we were deemed too "rich" to receive food stamps. $25 was often all that was left at the end of the week to purchase any food you needed for the following week. You pretty much just look for the cheapest, most filling foods you can afford. Dry beans, potatoes, and hot water cornbread were at almmany a meal growing up. Meat in any form was a luxury and a rarity. Back then, vegetables were cheaper. We'd have whatever was in season(and cheapest) maybe once a week. A peach here, some fresh corn there, and occasional tomato or apple. Ramen, at 10 cents a package, was a Saturday lunch for myself and my brother many times. I'm glad this story was covered. While it does center on government assistance, I hope it'll also shed some light on those who make to much money to get help...but not enough to provide proper meals for their families.

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Posted by Kristin on 05/31/2007 at 7:05 PM

I found that truly enlightening. I work with the food stamp recipients, and I have a totally different outlook than the sob stories presented here. For the majority of the clients I work with, Food Stamps/handouts/welfare are a way of life. We shouldn't be increasing alottments, we should be cutting them off. This program is a disaster at best. If the American public really knew what was going on to keep these people on the Welfare system, they would be outraged. I also find it amusing that one of your staffers was able to loose weight during this challenge: could you please give lectures on this? The majority of the people I work with are overweight, so they aren't starving as far as I can tell. One minute people are criticizing how fat people are on food stamps, the next they complain that you don't get enough to eat. Which is it? They are either getting something to eat or they aren't. No one in this State, especially in a town the size of Memphis is starving.

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Posted by Christa on 06/04/2007 at 6:41 AM

I'm a working mom, household of 4(including husband). Over income for foodstamps. Have never considered applying. After I pay housing, (shelter, utilities, property taxes, insurance)Daycare, school lunch, medicail insurance premiums and deductibles, transportation expenses etc. My household food budget maximum is 400.00 per month. Goal is to spend less so can have money for children to play ball, presents etc. Trick is to buy monthly in bulk rather than weekly or daily buy sale items, reduced meats, freeze leftovers into lunch size portions, always have stables that carry over month to month so that main items last from sale to sale. 10 lbs of potatoes will go a long way as does 10 1bs of ground beef and chicken thighs. You can have fresh salad regularly once you have your stables you will have money for a head of lettuce a bag of carrots, green peppers etc. and you stock up on dressing when it is on sale. It is a matter of planning. And though I don't do it much now...seeds to grow fresh vegetables are very inexpesive and an allowable foodstamp item.

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Posted by JE on 06/04/2007 at 9:15 AM

Twenty-two dollars definitely doesn't go very far in this day and age and probably hasn't since way back in the late 60s-early 70s. One can definitely forget about budget-busting items such as fresh fruits and vegetables, prime cuts of meat, desserts (pre-packaged and do-it-yourself), delicatessen items, and name-brand soda. If you're gonna try and make it for a week on $22, then you'd better stock up on the staples such as rice, pinto beans, and corn meal first. After that, maybe you can get a couple pounds of low-quality hamburger meat or a bag of chicken quarters. Hopefully, you'd have enough left over for some eggs, bologna, salami, generic cheese slices, and cheap soda. Keep in mind that picky eaters of those who don't want the same food more than a couple days in a row will have a "hard row to hoe", so to speak. Long story short, you'd have to keep it pretty simple and basic if $22 is all you have for food. A lot of jobs in Memphis really don't pay very much money and it's really compounded if one is raising a family. A person with a low-paying job and no dependents may be able to squeak by. For those who have employment that enables them to take care of themselves and their families, I say that you shouldn't be so quick to condemn those who get food stamps because you could find yourselves in need of them someday. With the runaway inflation and the direction this world is heading, you may be a bad situation or two away from misfortune. Death and Taxes are a certainty; anything else is a bonus. One has to be smart and resourceful enough to make do with limited funds. It really comes down to realizing your financial limitations and planning accordingly. If you plan things well and start out with the staple foods, then you may be able to afford some of the "luxury" items at a later date. Just ditch the urge to go "impulse shopping" and you'll be able to stretch that $22 to the fullest. Sincerely, Zycor368@hotmail.com

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Posted by T.D. Parker on 06/07/2007 at 6:10 PM

Maybe your paper should take the lead in organizing a local Angel Food Ministry http://www.angelfoodministries.com/about.asp which attempts to feed a family of 4 for $25 a week. Also see http://stlouis.about.com/od/disabledresources/a/afministries.htm

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Posted by carl wayne on 06/26/2007 at 12:19 PM

Maybe it's not such a great idea for a newspaper to get involved in organizing ministries. Maybe they should just stick to good journalism, which this paper seems to generally do. Just a thought.

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Posted by Mike Jones on 06/26/2007 at 1:31 PM

I have to disagree with the comment about the fact that people are getting enough nutrition based on the fact that they are overweight. Being overweight can be just as much a sign of poor nutrition as it can be of overeating. One reason is that the items that are consumed are low in nutrition while high in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and calories. Also, when the body isn't getting enough fuel, it goes into starvation mode, holding onto calories and storing food intake as fat.

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Posted by Zaneta on 01/28/2008 at 9:50 AM

Actually, when in starvation mode, the body's BMR (basal metabolic rate) lowers, so that fewer calories are required to carry out the body's daily functioning (respiration, digestion, elimination, etc.). To say that the body purely "stores calories as fat" in "starvation mode" is inaccurate. As to the article, I would like to see some statistics about what people on food stamps actually buy week to week, and also what percent of people on food stamps are obese. I don't think that giving more money is the solution (let's face it, the problem lies much deeper if a category for "single mother with 10 children" even exists in the first place), but education. Perhaps the government can provide a sample grocery list along with suggested meal plans and recipes for food stamp recipients, so that they can not only budget their spending, but also perhaps direct them to more healthy food choices. Does anyone know if such a service or those statistics are already extant?

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Posted by Amy Daniel on 01/29/2008 at 1:00 PM

I think that all the people who are saying that the foodstamp program should cut have no idea what they are talking about. It is a wonderful program. Yes there are people that abuse it but there are also people who are just down on their luck for a bit and need help. It must be nice to have so much that you haven't got to worry how you will feed your children. Things happen. People get sick and can't work, people have accidents, and due to the economy at present there are many people being laid off from their jobs. You should not punish someone for things beyond their control. I am a foodstamp recipient myself. I go to the grocery store and buy fruits, veggies, cereal, and fresh meat for my family. Of course i see people who load the buggies up with junk but i do not. I have always make my stamps last and always have some left at the end of the month. Some of us do the best that we can. You should not pass judgement on things you know nothing about.

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Posted by Marissa on 07/06/2008 at 3:52 PM

My husband and I are on food stamps - 323$ a month. Being pregnant, it is extremely hard to pass up the craved foods like chocolate and icecream. The first month that we had received food stamps, we went overboard. We went 2 days eating nothing but ramen noodles at the end of the month, so I see how some people are mad that others don't spend the food stamps correctly. I can say that we are learning to make better meal plans, but the thing is, I am 18 and not experienced at cooking full meals. I was wondering if someone could give some meal plans when they post about the food stamps.

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Posted by Martha on 03/02/2009 at 9:34 PM

People who are disabled adults who have never reported taxes over the years or not paid in enough taxes through work only qualify for a flat $500.00 SSI and are can are eligible for the max amount of food stamp money while disabled adults who have worked $10.00 jobs and paid in enough taxes are eligible for SSDI and receive no food stamp help. If people on SSDI have thousands of dollars of medical bills depending on the case worker if they "like you" one might get $10.00. If both these different catagories of disabled people had children under 18 years old then they would be eligible for $500.00 a pop, per child. The disabled adults commonly receive a few more dollars than SSI disabled qualifing individuals yet the way to qualify for it all, hands down is with SSI. I never met anyone who ever wants to be in these situations only people who have late in life, become disabled through mental, emotional, and/or physical illness, injuries both chronic or terminal. Point is, if you get disabled you will draw $40 percent of your worked income the money you would also retire on, so; 40% of that will put you in the poverty level yet you won't quailify for much, in sense, you would be drawing your retirement early and disabled. They are also trying to change that people who qualify are only people with children. It makes me wonder the elders and single people are going to put on the front line in a sense, shot down and eliminated.

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Posted by Paw Paw on 04/06/2009 at 10:54 AM

I am a 100% disabled veteran. I live in nthing but pain 24 hours a day. I have worked all my life and worked my way up to a good salary and position. over 30 years ago, I started having back problems, the doctors weere suppose to take care of me, they did myelograms with a poison based dye, and surgery twice a couple of months apart. They never told me that I had a nerve disease of the spinal cord that they caused me to have, but would not tell me. I had pain constantly for about the next 3 or 4 years. But I finally went into remission, had some problems in between but worked all through it. It was awful. Then in 97 I got attacked, it brought the disease to a raging force and worked until I couldn't anymore. Then I had to apply for disabilty. I got it and that is wwhat I have lived on since. I am by myself. I do not get food stamps, never applied for them. I feel that I can get by without them. I have had so many people ask me why I don't get them, they say you are eligible. I tell them that there are so many children on this earth that need the food more than I do. I was about a 12 size until 97, all the medicine I was put on, I gained. I aalso have a paralyzed stomach, which even though I don't gain anymore weight, I stay the same, my stomach never seems to go down. I do not eat even three meals a day, because my stomach cannot process the food fast enough so I feel full and cannot eat any more for that day and sometimes into the next morning. I used to work at a Kroger, one of my jobs on the side while I was in remission. I know for a fact that some people on food stamps, get away with saying they have more people in their household than they actually have, because they can bring paperwork about their sisters children and a leter saying that they are living with them, because they cannot take care of their own. Then the other sister turns around and gets food stamps for the same people. One night I checked out this lady who you could get blinded by the gold she was wearing, and hadd 5 baskets of food that I checked out and she paid for on food stamps. Let alone feeding that amount of people, where could she have storeed it all. I think this is wrong, because the ones who really and truly could use the stamps and more than what they are getting, don't and the ones like this lady I mentioned, gets enough food to feed an army. Something is just not right with this picture. I think people need to be taught how to budget their food monies for the month, and that includes like the lady said above growing your vegetables. Not only is it more economical, healthy, but educational for your children, and a project for them to take care of after school. Everyone should have a chance at being able to get good nutrition, but everyone needs to be taught their part in achieving this. The government gives you the food stamps, but you have to do your part in knowing what to do with them and doing it the right way. I don't want to see or hear of anyone going hungry. It is not right that anybody in this country does. But I also have to say, this meaans if your are an American citizen, and not illegal aliens. We should not have to support them for a crime they are commiting. Even the people in prison who have committed crimes against society, get fed better than the citizens out in society that are trying their beest to make a good life for theemselves and that includes good food. Good food is not just supplying the body with nutrition and energy, it supplies the brain with being ablee to conceentrate, do good at what you are doing and be comfortable in doing it.

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Posted by Stevie on 10/02/2009 at 8:27 PM

no where in this experiment did I see beans or cooked oatmeal. I would take the oatmeal and make a cookie type dough and crumble it, bake it, and serve it with warm milk for breakfast. I make cornbread for breakfast. Pinto beans cooked with a smoke neck bone and onions and garlic makes real good burritos instead of starving eating rice. Be creative. Why is it most people (Adults) crying they don't have enough to eat and are on food stamps are fat while the children are slim. I know what it is like to be on food stamps and the guide lines tell you to buy the leanest meats, fruits and vegetables, the starchy food makes you only hungier, those should be avoided.

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Posted by weidner on 01/15/2010 at 3:08 AM

I think that when you work for the food stamp office or the government in general you get hardhearted and tend to be a less giving person. If you ever had to recieve the aid instead of give it you might see the difference. In today's economy there are more hungry people than you realize. Instead of being patronizing why can't you look it like hey I really got to be a blessing to someone and if you hate your government job then get another one because if you hate the people you help you are in the wrong job and are making yourself and everyone suffer.

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Posted by beablessing on 02/08/2011 at 8:41 PM

The problem with the Food Stamp program is that once a lot of these people get on them, they don't want to get off them. A lot of the kids of food stamp recipients end up getting on food stamps themselves, and they learn that it's a way of life! It is supposed to be a program that helps people out in a time of need, not as something they should get just because they always have! They also know that the way to get more food stamps is to have more kids, can you believe that!?!?!? A lot of them think, "If I have more kids, I get more food stamps every month, I get more money in my check, and I can live in a bigger house". That is part of the disparity in this country! If a person is on food stamps, and can keep having babies, or are not disabled, then they should be put to work for those food stamps, public assistance, etc. It should not be given just because. There are so many projects that could be done with labor from mothers and fathers that are on food stamps and welfare. I know that there are many people and families that have no choice, and I do believe you gotta do what you gotta do to take care of the family. But, like I said, they are supposed to be a TEMPORARY thing, not a way of life. I am sure there are kids out there right now that are being told, "Once you graduate from high school, the government takes some of my food stamps and money, so I can't support you anymore." Then the girl goes and gets herself pregnant, so she can start her own welfare and food stamp case. No matter what you say, you know that it's true. It's sad, but it's true. $18 million dollars for only 1 month, for one county in one state!!! That is just totally ridiculous!!! Maybe we should get some legislation in place that would limit the amount of kids these people can have, chemical castration, I don't know. The program is so severely abused, just like TennCare, and every other social program....if someone can take advantage of it, they surely will. If it were run correctly and not abused, then there would be less people on it, and the actual people that REALLY need it, would be able to get enough to feed their family the way they deserve to be fed. It's because of these programs that people live on, as a way of life, that the elderly people that helped build this country, helped keep it free, get $700 a month for Social Security! My 74 year-old mother-in-law gets $18.00 a month for Food Stamps! Something is wrong with that!!! I could go on, but it would only make me more upset. If I have upset anybody with this, it was unintentional.

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Posted by mazdamanjames on 07/16/2011 at 12:48 PM

They need to raise the threshold of income limitation for a family to receive food stamps.. nobody would opt to apply for it if they didnt truly need it.. at least I wouldnt. I have a family of 4.. and apparently the $1 K a month rent, the $360 a month electric bill, the $198 a month water bill, the phone internet/cable bill and car insurance total $1750 a month.. Husband makes $2K a month and once a month gets a commission check.. so on average .. about $3 K a month. Apparently we make too much money for food stamp assistance but they fail to factor in that it's costing nearly $2 K a month in basic bills not counting food and gasoline. We end up begging money to buy food. Pawning things to buy food. I believe if a family of 4 isnt pulling in $4K a month, they should get some assistance to buy food. It would help!

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Posted by anonymousandstarving on 10/09/2011 at 6:28 AM
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