Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Food Stamp Challenge

"The DHM" over at has been posting about the so called "Food stamp challenge". She blogs about a lot of other stuff, too, so you'll have to look around.

The point of the Challenge, as I understand it, is for Congresspeople to make a point of how difficult it is to eat of the average food stamp allowance of $1.50 per person, per meal. The point of "The DHM", as I understand it, is that the food stamp program as it exists is unkind because it doesn't teach people to make do/get by/be frugal, and when they get off the program they are lost as to how to eat on a budget.

So today as I was cooking dinner, I did a little math. Our family would get (assuming the average above) $40.50 every day to "supplement" our food budget (as the proper name for the program is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Hmm; that's about one meal out at Chick-Fil-A, or Golden Corral on the kid's night special. I then went on to add up what we spent on food for eating today, all 3 meals at home. I'm assuming you don't want the itemized list of ingredients.

For breakfast we had oatmeal, bananas, and milk.
For lunch we had cheese toast, fried organic eggs, and fresh pineapple.
For dinner we will have (it's on the table now) homemade pizza (with beef) and fresh veges with French Onion dip.

Not extravagant, maybe, but plenty of everything. Grand total for the day? $32.50.

So what do you think? Should Congress get a clue? Should we re-vamp SNAP to include some education? Cut benefits? Increase them? Throw out the whole program?


Wil said...

I think people's answers to your last question will depend on who they've met in life and in which stratum of society they reside...

I remember feeling very strongly at one point that the whole program should be ended. Period.

Then I met people who simply had no other choice and weren't milking the system. They could barely survive off what they got. At that point, I decided they should get *more* benefits.

Then I met the people we've all read about, who're scamming the system so badly that they can afford new cars every year. And they were the reason that the people in real need weren't getting what they needed.

Very sad.

The whole thing was begun in good faith, with good intentions, and is being carried on with the same intentions (at least by some), but it's just not working...

The HoJo's said...

I worry about benefit abuse leading to cuts which would result in genuinely needy families going without, however there needs to be better education from a young age about what constitutes a diet beneficial to an economic and healthy life.
Better food results in less trips to the dentist or doctor, less prescriptions and a general well being.

Simplified greatly and full of holes, but it would be good if it worked.

keep the benefits and encourage cooking lessons!


Ganeida said...

Well, we're a family on benefits; my Dearest is disabled. It's not the food that gobbles up our income. As you know we grow a lot of our own fruit & veg. It's utilities: Rates, electricity, car regos. Our income nowhere near meets our expenditures but God has graciously met our needs. Not our wants. Not our excesses. Our needs. That, at present, includes music training for youngest DD.

I understand people getting fraught when others abuse the system. We declare everything we earn ~ & lose benefits if we earn too much. Others don't & are in a much better position becuse of it.

I know the American system is different to ours. It strikes me as much crueler. The idea out here is to help those least able to help themselves through no fault of their own. Unfortunately there are always those with an eye to the main chance & prepared to do anything to get an extra dollar they are not entitled to. *sigh*

MamaOlive said...

Thank you all for your replies.
I suppose we live off of "benefits" too, if one cares to generalize. You all know Bob was in the military, and their retirement system is different from everyone else's. Military retirement promises are a big reason people join, and it is an attempt to make up for 20 years of life-endangering slavery. In addition to the retirement, Bob was declared "90% disabled" by the Veterans Administration, so he also gets a generous allowance from them. But we still qualify as under the poverty line. We, homeowners with 3 cars who eat out several times per week!
I guess my point is that there are genuinely needy people out there, but the line shouldn't be where it is.
I have two problems with the current state of welfare in the US. 1. is that the constitution doesn't allow for it on a national level. 2. is that the government's answer to any abuses it to make a lot more rules, so that those who really need help have a hard time getting it, and the professional scammers keep milking the system.
I enjoyed working with our church's food pantry, where food was freely donated (instead of "taxed" from the unwilling) and freely distributed by caring people to those they knew needed help. Of course, it will take a LOT more of that sort of thing to make up the difference if the Feds stopped their program.
So I don't have the answers, just some questions.