Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You Gotta Eat

Four members of Congress representing both sides of the aisle recently finished the Congressional Food Stamp Challenge. The objective: Feed yourself on $3.00 per day, the average amount a food stamp recipient receives (sorry, no way to not make that sound redundant).

It was a good experiment, as it illustrated just how inadequate the Food Stamp Program is as it exists today. And it would make a good reality TV show; one with a social conscience, rather than voyeuristic, sadistic intent. Though the likes of Nicole Richie or Paris Hilton hardly need encouragement not to eat.

As a vegetarian, I think I could almost make $3.00 work each day (Taco Bell bean burrito: $.89 plus tax; cup of water: free; intestinal fortitude: priceless)... for a few days . But most people aren’t, and couldn’t. The challenge participants did cheat a little here and there. It ain't enough money!

In an interesting sidebar to this story, participant Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) had his peanut butter and jelly sandwich (ingredients bought with the $3.00 allowance) confiscated by the TSA before a flight, leaving him foodless. Have terrorists suddenly moved from WMDs and suicide bombings to murder by food allergy? These no-thrills airlines aren't serving food anymore, yet allow you to bring your own food aboard; has no one informed the TSA of this?

I hope no food stamp recipient has to take a plane anytime soon (it could happen). Or a diabetic. Or any other normal human being requiring sustenance. They may be out of luck.

The Food Stamp Program is apparently just one of many federal entities that needs a policy overhaul.


Mayden's Voyage said...

$90 a month, per person?
My grocery budget, for 4 people, is just a tad over that. Has been for many, many years.

I could absolutely feed one person for 90 a month- no problem. I have done it for much less.

The deal is this- you have lots of rice, and beans, and potatoes. Meat every week- and I know how to stretch a chicken!
I grew up the oldest of 6 kids, and my mom was the most frugal person I've ever met.
The real problem is the "handout" mindset of those who are trapped in the welfare system...and enough is never enough.
Either no one has ever showed them how to "make do" or they aren't satisfied with what they get.
The latter is almost always the case.
And to be clear- my mom is on food stamps right now. She is diabled and is caring for my mentally handicapped brother.

She could move in with one of us- but that is not what she wants at this time. She's worked hard all of her life- but not for a job that paid into Social Security. She was a full time mom.
There are no "extras", unless I or my sisters provide them...and we try. My point here, is that she is making it- and doing ok.
$.89 will buy a loaf of cheap bread- and $2.00 will buy a jar of p-butter. $1.25 will buy a carton of eggs. $3.00 will buy a gallon of milk. That $7.00 will feed a family of 7 for at least 2 days.
I'm just saying it can be done friend...
I've lived it.
And if anything- it's helped me to be a better shopper- and tighter with my money.

I totally agree with you that it would be an awesome reality show-:)
Anything else with Paris in it will make me sick!

Pete Bogs said...

I think it would be tight for most people... further, you could eat, but as one participant in the challenge pointed out, it's almost impossible to eat healthy... you won't starve with peanut butter and white bread, but that's not good for you meal after meal... you need a variety...

some people do indeed EXPECT things to be given to them; I know several people who worked in public assistance, and the attitude of the recipients was lousy... but some of them were genuinely struggling, and genuinely grateful for what they got... but when one gallon of gas is $3.15, $3.00 a day for food is just too little...

Mayden's Voyage said...

I agree Pete...some really do appreciate the assistance they get-and others take it for granted.

I also agree that on a tight budget it's hard to add all the fruits and veggies that a person should have, and less of the starches- which I do my best to avoid most of the time.

Here's my question to you- new much do you think should a person be allotted for food?
And do you think that barely having "enough" (in the current system) is ever an incentive for people to get off food stamps?
If there is an increase in funds, might the opposite be true?

We never had them growing up- but we did get surplus stuff from our church (Salvation Army)cheese, canned stuff, etc.

You are giving me stuff to think about at 4 am when I can't sleep :)

Sanford B. Hines said...

Fuck Bush. Impeach the fucker. Criminal Bush, Sell out Bush.

Pete Bogs said...

mayden - I think it has to be made clear that this assistance is not indefinite, but just there to get you through lean times... I think you should have to show that you are trying to better your financial situation in order to continue receiving it - kind of like you have to do to get unemployment checks...

$3 may be enough per child... I'm thinking more in the $5 range for an adult...

Sanford B. Hines said...

Bush is an enemy of the United States Of America. He must be removed from office. He no longer retains any credibility with the citizens of the USA. How many more US laws will Bush break? All of this is proven fact.