Food Stamp Challenge 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

$4.50 a day … come on people, you can do this!

Here are a few links for this year’s challenge:

San Jose Mercury News
Washington Post Faith
CBS San Francisco

(I’ll try to look for better links on that, I think some of those are lame, was trying to get something up quickly.)

I will be interested to see if it seems like anyone learns anything. I’m afraid that usually they don’t.

Best of luck to all participants!

(And coming soon … a reward for your patience … what one of my friends referred to as “the best thing I’ve ever eaten” after taking a bite. Not cheap, not easy, but how can I not post? Recipe coming up soon.)

8 Responses to “Food Stamp Challenge 2011”


  1. To be honest, I almost feel annoyed that this type of thing makes news to begin with. I eat on less than 5.60/day/person. and it’s not that hard. I even eat meat and “induldge” from time to time. Sure lowering it another dollar or so would cause me to be a more cautious and careful than I currently am, but part of me thinks this is hype.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    Well that’s the thing, the amount they are struggling to get by on keeps going up and at this point is 50% more than I spend all the time, and I eat perfectly well. My average grocery bill for the year is $88.14/month. I shop primarily at Whole Foods, and I don’t use coupons.

    There are definitely some strategies involved in eating for less, but they’re not so hard that the average person can’t master them.

    I wish there would be more projects to teach people (including members of Congress) how to shop, cook, and eat for for $30 a week and fewer projects to raise awareness of how hard it is to eat for $30 a week. I don’t feel like those projects really do much for anyone.

  3. empatheticobserver Says:

    Wow, since when did they start building Whole Foods in areas with high concentrations of food stamp recipients, or are you not factoring in the gasoline costs for a round trip from the areas where such markets normally locate?

  4. Sara Says:

    My parents raised 7 kids during the 70’s and 80’s. We were low-income, but my parents NEVER used food stamps or got any government assistance. And we always had plenty of food. I know that there is no way my parents spent the equivalent of $30 per week per person.
    I would love to tell these people how well they could eat on $30 per week per person. A lot of lentil soup, with meat and vegs., stews, etc. My parents didn’t have much and we ate a lot of vegs out of the garden (which we all had to work in). Now, I work full time and make a decent living, but I feed my family of three on $60-$80 per week.
    Also, I work with low-income families, and whenever they tell me how poor they are and how they can’t pay their bills, or that they don’t get enough in food stamps ($400 per month isn’t enough???)I tell my boss how much I would love to just show them how to budget. (Cut cell-phone plan, NO cable, etc.) Because I have to live on a tight budget, so I get it!
    p.s. I love this blog, and got my 70 year old (technologically challenged) father to read it, too.

  5. lessisenough Says:

    (a) I just put up a clarification that my post was written not for people in the SNAP program but for the people pretending to be in it for a week.

    (b) I think you’d be surpised about where people who are in food assistance programs live.

    (c) The Whole Foods in my town is less than a mile from some of the poorest neighborhoods.

    (d) Whole Foods is generally perceived to be much more expensive than a regular grocery store, so it seems like if I can do this at Whole Foods, other people should be able to do it at “cheaper” stores.

    (e) I said “if you have access to a store with a butcher counter” — many ethnic markets (which are often in poorer neighborhoods) have butcher counters where you can buy a small amount of meat. I don’t know what the rules are for this project, if they can use oil they have already or if they have to start from nothing. I also don’t know how much bacon is at a regular store since I only ever buy a quarter pound at a time. And I didn’t buy any on Tuesday so I didn’t want to include it in the total. With $31.50 for the week, I think you’d actually be able to get a pound or half pound or however much is in a standard package and still have it work, but I hadn’t done any of the math on that so I didn’t want to commit to that.

    (f) In 2009, I did a demonstration project along these lines the hardest way I could think of — starting with no food and getting one dollar every day to buy food with. I did that to demonstrate strategies for cooking and eating for less, that I think could work for many different people in many different circumstances. If you click in the sidebar for the “Dollar a Day Project” you can see the details on that.

  6. Joy Says:

    My family of 4, eating for $4.50 a day, would be $540 a month. I regularly come in under that, and we eat meat at each meal, and we have food allergies so we are on a special diet. If we can do it, others can too.

  7. Carol Ann in St. Louis Says:

    aaarrrggghhh! I read those links and just want to tear my hair out. The ignorance about how to eat well without spending a lot of money is, apparently, rampant. Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

  8. lessisenough Says:

    Okay I’m glad it’s not just me.

    I had to put that clarification up because really, I’m not hating on people getting food stamps, they’ve got enough problems already without me blah blah blah-ing at them, I’m hating on EVERYONE ELSE. Like I said, come on, people, you can do this!

    I started thinking I should do a project where I eat for $31.50 a week, though two things popped into my head — the first was that that would be boring, and then I decided it would be interesting if I had to spend EXACTLY $31.50 every week, that might be fun. The second was wow, that’s a lot, I’m not really sure my budget would allow that level of spending. So still thinking about it.


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