Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona
Could you live on a $4.50/day food stamp allotment?
Rep. Jim McGovern, who has been leading the charge to stop billions of dollars of cuts to the food stamp program (SNAP), will begin a food stamp challenge tomorrow, June 13, to draw attention to the plight of the poor and hungry in America. Twenty Congressional leaders, staffers, and supporters have joined the challenge to live on $4.50/day for one week. Here is information from McGovern’s website.
Starting on June 13th, 2013, I will be joining over 20 of my Congressional colleagues, staffers and Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz for the 2013 National Food Stamp Challenge.
I will live on $4.50 a day for food for a week to bring attention to hunger and the $20 billion in cuts SNAP millions of Americans are facing. This is a conversation we need to have, and I hope this Challenge will help us continue the dialogue. Stay tuned to this page for updates from many of the participants!
And for more on my ongoing efforts to bring attention to hunger on the House floor, visit my #EndHungerNow page.
McGovern has given a series of speeches on ending hunger in America. Watch them here. Fifty million Americans are living with food insecurity. Now is not the time to cut billions from food stamps– while adding billions to the Pentagon budget.
McGovern’s challenge follows Newark Mayor (and now US Senate candidate) Cory Booker’s food stamp challenge from last winter. Booker used video and social media to publicize what he bought and how difficult it is to live on $30/week.
According to the Food Research Action Center, as of last Friday, the following House Members have committed to taking the SNAP Challenge: Lee (CA), Matsui (CA), Holmes-Norton (DC), Carney (DE), Schakowsky (IL), Duckworth (IL), McGovern (MA), Conyers (MI), Kildee (MI), Levin (MI), Ellison (MN), McCollum (MN), Nolan (MN), Watt (NC), Kuster (NH), Lujan-Grisham (NM), Crowley (NY), Rangel (NY), Fudge (OH), DeFazio (OR), Cartwright (PA), Langevin (RI), ORourke (TX), Veasey (TX), DelBene (WA), Pocan (WI). (Hmmm… no one from Arizona on the list, of course.)
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Split yourself into 2 groups: the first group is on Social Security and has an apartment with a kitchen, the second group is homeless.
The first group will go into Sprout’s/Sunflower Market, or the local Farmer’s Market for the best prices on fresh food. Don’t buy anything in a can or a box. Make sure they are dressed appropriately: Jeans and a T-shirt with walking shoes. Don’t go to Kroger’s because they jack up the organic prices $1 per item and $1 per lb.; Safeway and Albertson’s don’t offer much organic; WalMart will toss them out if they have holes in their clothes or are schizophrenic. The previously mentioned grocery stores do offer their own line of organic products but they are boxed so they cost more than fresh foods. The reason for organic-only is for health reasons. They can Google and print out the Dirty Dozen list and buy some fresh, non-organic produce to save some money. Also a lot of local Farmer’s Markets will not allow produce that was grown using pesticides but
they will have to take the bus down there on shopping day and check their prices to compare with the flyers that come in the mail on Tuesdays. If they go to Sprouts go on Wednesday at 7 a.m., double-ad day, take last week’s and this week’s flyers with them. For the other stores, if they are over a certain age find out when Senior’s Discount Day is. Do your homework before you shop, you can’t afford not to. And remember, they are travelling by bus, not their nice cars, so they don’t want to be going all over town shopping at several different stores. What ever they buy they have to carry home so take cloth bags — they get a 5 cent discount per bag — and a $30 cart from the hardware store. They can ad-match at WalMart but that is difficult with only fresh foods.
Buy $45 worth of organic ground meat, fresh fruits and vegetables (unless frozen is on sale), and organic, bulk oatmeal and other items on sale. They will go home and split the meat into 4 oz. portions — cut 1 lb. into 4 squares — and freeze them seperately in fold-top sandwich bags. They will split the produce into 1/2 cup servings and freeze it. Wash, slice or chop, and blanch the potatos for 5-10 minutes, cool on a rack and then freeze. Put the oatmeal and bulk items into glass cannisters. Everything will be cooked from scratch 3 times a day. They can try cooking cassaroles but they don’t always freeze well and it you have to make sure there is 4 oz. of protein in one serving. Since they are now cooking for 1 this might be the way to go. If they are successful with this PLEASE post the recipes for those of us who could use the help.
The second group will find some plastic spoons and buy a day’s worth of canned pork and beans and soup with pop top lids to eat with the spoon. Don’t buy more that a 1 day supply because you are carrying it in a backpack and have no refrigeration. Since they are actually educated people, with no mental care concerns, I would imagine they would go for a 1 day supply of fruits and vegetables rather than the canned pork and beans, but remember there is protein in the beans. They must be all pop top cans. If there is a nearby soup kitchen, use it.
The previous $200 per person allotment was enough to get most people through the month and those who are not elderly, disabled, and homebound could find a soup kitchen. Now that it is down to $45 it is good for one shopping trip per month and a lot of disabled persons who have a kitchen either don’t know how to cook or are not physically able to cook.
I am a 61 year old Stage IV Ovarian Cancer patient and now live on SSDI of $930 per month. I was Representative Payee for a mentally disabled neighbour who lives on $810 SSI per month. His rent and utilites are paid by the local mental health agency so he actually has more money than I do ($400 disposable income) but most of them have a shopping or alcohol addiction and not able to make it last for a month. He feeds his companion dog deli chicken and hot dogs purchased with food stamps. He lives on frozen pizza, potato chips, cola, frozen $1 entrees, beer, and coffee. When my food stamps run out I pay cash and keep my pantry stocked with sale items. When his run out, he goes around to the
agencies that give out food and splits it with his dog.
I am extremely glad to see you running this experiment. You can’t keep balancing the Military budget by cutting out the Social Security benefits. We worked for our Entitlements. I would love to see somebody paying attention to the mentally disabled who need a Life Skills Coach who can come in the try to teach them to look after themselves. I majored in Religion, not Psychology, but do what I can to help the neighbours. It just happens that our apartment house is owned by Mental Health Resources, Inc, but they have no on-site manager or maintenance. When something happens the retirees take care of it or call 911. La Frontera will give them a free apartment to start off with but it is unfurnished. One of the maintenance men keeps any abandoned furniture for these people and when I was more mobile I would get a shopping basket from the parking lot and go around to the working neighbours telling them to clean out the extras from their kitchen and closets and put it into the basket. We could usually get someone set up okay. They come in with nothing but the clothes on their backs and do not have the necessary thought processes to figure out what to do from here.
I will go and try to find a link where I can keep up with your progess on your experiment. God Bless You all.
Rev. Dr. AndiRaya Gibb