Food Stamp Challenge: $227

The Challenge

The challenge is simple, but difficult too: in October, maintain a foodstamp budget while feeding your family wholesome, nourishing and unrefined foods.

Due to loss of jobs, inadequate wages and other unfortunate situations, many, many families derive the bulk of their food budget, or even their entire food budget from governmental assistance programs. Mothers often wonder just how they can feed their families well while subsisting on supplemental nutrition assistance programs like WIC and foodstamps. Just how can you make good food work on a few hundred dollars a month?

While a challenge of this sort may seem patronizing at best, there’s a real and sincere need to illustrate just how wholesome food can be purchased and prepared on even the slimmest of budgets. So in October, I’m ditching my CSAs and farmers markets, cutting my budget to $227 for October and focusing on real food done real cheap.   Besides, who doesn’t need to save a few bucks?

The Number

Settling on a final budget for the project proved difficult. The benefit allotment for foodstamp program is directly related to the USDA’s cost of food. In essence, the government assumes that nutrition assistance recipients will spend approximately 30% of their budget on food and the aim of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is to supplement a family’s low income until the USDA’s thrifty food budget is reached. This means that the maximum foodstamp benefit for a family of our size is $527 – not too shabby. In fact, eating well on $527 a month is hardly a challenge at all.

Despite the fact that foodstamps are intended as a supplement, many recipients rely on nutrition assistance benefits exclusively. So, while a family may receive $227 from the government in nutrition assistance, they are unlikely to make up the remaining $300 of that thrifty food budget out of their own pockets. With rising healthcare costs, childcare costs, transportation costs and rent, there’s often no leeway to increase the food budget at all.

In 2008, the average individual on SNAP received $101 and the average household on SNAP received $227 in benefits each month. Undoubtedly, this number has increased since then – though probably only nominally. Were our family to have only one earner making minimum wage, we’d likely receive $332 – $342 in benefits. Were our family live right at the poverty line, we’d receive $235 – $245 in benefits. We settled at $227 – the average benefit in 2008 for a single household.

The Assumptions

To keep us honest and on target, let’s assume a “worst-case”:

  • It’s unlikely that most SNAP recipients have access to a farmers market, farm stand or CSA accepting EBT (this is quickly changing thanks to grants from the USDA) thus all shopping must be done at a EBT-accepting grocery store.
  • It’s unlikely that most SNAP recipients have access to a food bank served with organic, local foods.
  • It’s likely that many SNAP recipients are relying exclusively or close to exclusively on nutrition assistance benefits to purchase food.
  • It’s unlikely that most SNAP recipients have well-stocked pantry to use as a reserve well, and must build one on budget.

The Rules

The $227 budget must supply:

  • 3 Meals a Day for a Month for Our Family of Three
  • 2 Snacks a Day for a Month for Our Child
  • Only Whole, Unrefined Foods
  • Everything eaten during the month must be purchased that month. In other words: you can’t rely on your pantry!

Charting Progress

I’ll post each Monday through October outlining our trials, failures and successes – and for those of you who would like to follow along, I’ll be posting downloadable shopping lists, menus and recipe guides.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    wow, what a challenge indeed! my > favorite farmer’s market that’s within walking distance of my house DOES accept EBT! it just started it this year. also, many foodstamps recipients are also WIC elligible and WIC in MN has been giving farmer’s market vouchers for over 7 years.

  2. Julie says

    Wow, how exciting! We aren’t on food stamps but our personal food budget for 5 is shrinking and I would love to get any tips. I have noticed in our transition to healthy whole foods that our food budget actually shrank but it needs to be further tightened. Good luck.

    • Ginger says

      I am excited to stumble upon your website. I am single and don’t know how I am going to make this work. Due to medical reasons (and not by choice) I have a ton of dietary restrictions. I know you are doing a great service, but I would grealy appreciate your look onto dietary restrictions when possible.

  3. says

    I am so happy you’re doing this, I’ll definitely be tuning in EVERY MONDAY! Our family of two’s food budget is $60/wk which makes it difficult to provide wholesome, nourishing foods but we do manage each month to eat well, although we don’t have many organics on the table. I’m excited to see the menus and shopping lists!

  4. Linda says

    This is a really interesting idea. I am seeing a lot of beans in your future. Just an idea – you should also keep track of meal preparation and planning time. Perhaps people receiving government assistance are tight on time as well due to longer work hours – thinking single moms here.
    Another note – our cummunity has begun an organic garden run by volunteers to provide individuals getting food from the food pantry with fresh produce. It was started by a mom – an idea that deserves duplication!

  5. Jenny says

    Emily -

    The USDA has a grant-making program for Farmers Markets and one of their biggest pushes this year is to fund EBT machines for markets nationwide.  We’re going to apply for a machine for our market next year.  I think this is FANTASTIC.  The next step, though, is to provide farmers markets in underserved, underprivileged areas. 

    I’m also in love with the WIC program.  The FMNP (farmers market nutrition program) is run by the federal government and provides vouchers which can be supplemented locally to WIC recipients for use at farmers markets.  Recipients usually receive betwene $10 & $30 a seson – which isn’t much, but better than nothing.

    Colorado doesn’t participate in the FMNP so vouchers are simply not available through that channel for women in Colorado.  NUTS!  Our market took a very sizeable chunk of our budget to print, distribute at least $80 in vouchers to every WIC recipient in our community.  We received such positive feedback.  On top of that, we also sent about 100 lbs of fresh food (all organically and locally grown per our market’s guidelines) to the food bank every week.

    I really love this kind of activism.  It’s good stuff.

    - Jenny

  6. Jenny says

    Linda -

    That’s a fantastic idea to keep track of meal preparation and planning time.  I’m pretty tight on time as well so quick meals are really important to me. I work full time, run a farmers market with my husband, raise my 4 yo and blog in any spare time I get.

    I love the idea of community gardens.  SO important, I think.  We had one up here, but it was bulldozed to make way for a softball field.  That SUCKS.  We’re trying to get it going again next year.

    - Jenny

  7. says

    My family of four was on food stamps last year when my partner lost his job in the economic crunch. We were able to use EBT at the farmer’s market, which was amazing because it helped us to save money, buy locally, AND stay healthy since the majority of our food came from there. It’s a wonderful idea and I hope to see more markets implementing this option.

    With no income, we received about $450 a month in food stamps. When I got a job that paid about $1200 a month, our food stamps were dropped down to $250 a month. Our rent was $900 a month so you can imagine that we were tremendously squeezed in our attempts to stay on a healthy diet.

    I’m finishing a degree in nutrition and my primary goal is to work with the poor; I’ve experienced first-hand how it IS possible to eat healthy on a minimal budget, and also how tremendously important it is to do so if you are poor, because you often can’t afford to pay an insurance premium and forget seeing a doctor if you are sick. So I’m very excited to watch this series! Thanks for doing it!

  8. Sarah says

    Wow. What perfect timing. We just found out my husband won’t be getting a check next month so our check this month has to last now for 2 months. We are cutting back our food budget and this is perfect! Thanks so much.

  9. says

    This is a wonderful idea. Perhaps you can help people who “just love the WIC program” get off the gov’t dime, learn how their love of gov’t hand-outs is sinking the entire economy of our nation, and help us strapped taxpayers get a break from supporting them.

    I’m single and eat on less than $150.00 a month – healthfully. It can be done!

    I would live on bananas and peanut butter rather than take gov’t hand outs.

  10. says

    What a fantastic experiment! And what a great learning tool for anyone getting started. Small budget or not, many people don’t have time or desire to shop at farmers markets, CSA’s, or do much ‘food gathering’. They want to know how to do it on little money at a regular store – take the mystery out of it in the beginning. I’ll be forwarding this on to friends and family to show that ANYONE can eat healthier.

  11. Gelynne says

    What a great idea! I would love to join the challenge, but I have 7 mouths I feed 3 meals a day plus atleast one snack. Any ideas on how I could come up with my budget number for the challenge that reflects my household size?
    We tried, a couple of months ago, to live on a grocery budget of $100.00/week. Wihout my even noticing, the fresh produce that we rely on, quickly all-but-vanished from my grocery cart and I put on 10 pounds! But…… my focus was so hard on the $100.00 that I lost sight of the $100 and HEALTHY WHOLE FOODS part. Would love to try again.
    -G

  12. says

    As a dane it is very interesting for me to follow this.
    Foods are very expensive in Denmark – we´ve got a 25 % vat however we do earn more as well.
    As a low paid worker I get 2000 dollars after tax- just to gve you an idea :)

    I use aprox 400 dollars for a small family of 1 adult and a teen that eats more food than I ;)
    I eat 80- 90 % organic produce and lots of food from our garden; honey, eggs.

    My teen has expensive eating habits, mainly eggs in the morning, chicken , veggies, cheese for lunch, nuts, dark choc and fruit for snacks and meat and veggies for dinner.

    I follow a almost grain free diet = more expensive food.
    I´ll look foreward to see your experience.

  13. Laura says

    what an awesome idea! im so glad you are doing this! our “budget” (we dotn ahve one) has steadily climbed over the past year or so, i’d love to bring it back down. im looking forward to your posts about the journey!

  14. says

    I am interested to see how this goes! I’ve considered doing a food stamp challenge as well – I’ll be curious to see what you come up with!

  15. says

    One word–CostCo! And lots of eggs and cabbage. :) So cool that you’re doing this challenge! If we wanted to do a version of this for a single person we’d only get $57 for the month?

  16. says

    I am very interested to follow along and pick up any tips. We spend well over $200 dollars a month on food and that doesn’t count CSAs or a meal out at our farmers market.

  17. Heather Hall says

    I am really excited to follow this, I feed 4 on $300 of food stamps and if I have to spend cash on food, I have to pay a bill late or stuff like that. I already do pretty well at budgeting, my kids have food sensitivities which makes it even more challenging on this budget, but I buy one big bulk item at a time. I have 5 gallon ball jars to hold my flour, I get 25# bags, which don’t all fit in there but it keeps most of it fresh. I bought a 1 gallon pail of coconut oil over a year ago and I still have some. I’ve been slacking lately though so I could use some re-inspiration ;)

  18. Leslie says

    Hi. I’d love to join you in this challenge! I’m having a hard time with my budget though! Can you help? I feed a family of 13. I went to figure out my food stamp budget and it comes to $1900!!! I already spend no where near that. My current budget is $800 per month. Any ideas?

  19. Alexis says

    Em, JJ is right about WIC. It is just a big factory/corporate food subsidy. Our tax dollars paying for corporate accounts, especially with the formula industry. The amount of factory milk given away “free” is colossal. It’s not free. Our tax dollars pay to make this food available to the state at a lower rate. Just like corn and soy farming, our tax dollars are buying substandard foods. In some states you have a bit of choice, you can choose farmers markets, raw milk and even real peanut butter. In my state, you can only choose the cheapest store brand item on the shelf (i.e. peanut butter w/ hfcs and soy oil).

  20. Ed says

    Animal organs are unpopular and are thus pretty cheap, and they are extremely nutritious. Mixing in heart, liver and kidney — from pesticide and hormone-free animals of course — with soaked/gently sprouted beans and rice, you could probably increase your nutrient consumption… at the expense of perhaps needing to expand your taste comfort zone.

    Pickled & fermented vegetables are also more nutritious and relatively cheap, make your own sauerkraut.

  21. cherie willoughby says

    it can be done easily……I pay about .50 cents for 2 loaves of homemade organic sprouted wheat bread (by having a grain mill and buying the wheat seed in 25-50 pound bags)…which compared to wonder bread is quite a savings…..one chicken works out to be about $3 a meal as making broth stretches 1 chicken into 4-7 meals…..

    However, I think a key factor is timing and planning. While it might initially cost me $20 to buy a $25 # bag of whole wheat berries, the bag usually lasts a couple of months so that $25 is spread over 2 months. And planning is required. I buy chickens a couple times a year from farmer friends who raise pasture fed chickens or I raise my own when by business permits the time but again, it’s a big investment for a month here or there but then is in the freezer for the next year worth of chicken. Same goes for beef. I buy a whole cow which once a year is an investment but spread over the entire year, it is actually much cheaper with all the goodies like internal organs and bones to make broth as part of the deal.

    And in the late summer, early fall, you can stock up on local vegetables cheap or even free! A friend of mine got a bushel of tomatoes to make tomato sauce for free in exchange for cleaning the garden up for the farmer. But again, planning is essential. TO live on a nutrient dence diet, one has to walk away from the typical eat it and pay for it this week attitude and start planning their food choices in advance….

    And let us not forget foraging, there are many foods you can stock up on for free if you take the time to harvest them in season…raspberries, blueberries, grapes, rose hips, etc, etc are all out there growing in the world free for the taking and much tastier and healthier than the store bought stuff.

  22. cherie willoughby says

    And of course you can grow your own…I have been eating the same potato stock for years at $0 cost…they cost me nothing but time as I save a small amount of potatoes for next year’s harvest every year….

  23. Bonnie says

    I really wanted to try this. Then I remembered that my son and I are allergic to dairy, corn, soy, wheat and gluten. This should be easier for people who don’t have allergies. I would like to see someone try to do an allergen free menu for a month… We spend way too much on groceries as it is because we have to eat allergen free. It would be nice to cut out budget.

  24. Charlene says

    I don’t have a lot of experience with this, as I cook mostly only for myself, but I do have some ideas that could maybe be integrated into a plan.

    First off, see about eating wild foods. Dandelions, amaranth, chickweed, lambs quarters, violets, stinging nettles, etc. These can often be harvested safely out of a neighbor’s (chemical-free) garden for no money at all! Lacking a local weedy garden, they can be found in many other “waste” places as well, even in the city; a person just needs to take more care to be sure they’ve not been polluted by passing traffic or whatever. Wild foods are generally a good deal more nutrient-dense than anything found in a supermarket (or intentionally grown in a garden, for that matter), and are free to boot.

    Secondly, cook from scratch as much as possible. Convenience foods are notoriously expensive and lacking in nutrients. Dry beans and brown rice are a cheap source of good protein. Toss in some bones (which are also generally cheap, if your market sells cuts of meat containing them) and you can have a great deal of bulky, tasty, nourishing food for not much money. A slow cooker may be your best friend here; you can toss it all in and leave it for 8 or 12 hours, and come home to a good nourishing meal.

    If this is too bland for your family’s taste, a bit of onion will go a long way to spice it up. Any “spices” you buy should come in bulk: $3 of the $3.50 it costs for a little jar of spice is for the little jar. Bulk spices can be found at food co-ops and health-food stores…which may not carry much else cheap but are good for that anyhow.

    Thirdly, see about making your own fermented foods. Homemade yogurt is not too difficult, may save you some money, and is certainly better than the sugared stuff sold in poorer or rural stores. It’s also more versatile, as it can be used on tacos in place of sour cream, or tossed on oatmeal for breakfast, or frozen with fruit (often available for the picking, as people plant fruit trees in their yards but fail to find the time to harvest). Homemade kraut will preserve cabbage (which is very cheap, at least when it’s in season) and boost your enzyme intake. I’ve even made a “kraut” of shredded zucchini when the squash was so abundant that to leave a vehicle unlocked was to invite a visit from the “zucchini fairy”.

    Fourthly (though it’s not the season for this in most of the northern hemisphere), plant a few herbs and veggies for yourself, either in your yard or in pots on a porch, or wherever you can manage. Plant things you love to eat. Seeds and water are cheap, compared to herbs and vegetables. And when you pull the weeds, you may be able to eat them too. (If you think pots and potting soil are too expensive, visit a local nursery. They can usually get cheap ugly black pots pretty inexpensively, and make their own soil. You may be able to buy some from them, or at least copy what they’re doing.)

    As you can see from the ideas above, I scavenge as much as I can. I talk to neighbors, borrow empty lots to garden in, harvest fruit that’s going to waste (falling on the ground), preserve anything I can get my hands on, eat weeds from the yard, garden, and the side of little-traveled roads. I fill in with sides of beef (which are economical once you’ve paid for the freezer, generally), whole pigs, and old chickens which I can sometimes get for free if I butcher them myself. Not everyone can do all of these things, and eating well on a budget certainly takes more time, but implementing some of these can sure help stretch the cash when it’s scarce.

  25. says

    Jenny,

    I am really looking foward to this challenge. I’m going to watch and see what you come up with as for recipes. My challenge is feeding dh and I (and the kids to an extent) low-carb/no grains/starches. I feel that every time someone does this, they rely on beans (too high in carbs) or rice/breads/etc.

    Our budget for a family of 4 is 140/week, but I typically only spend the full 140 about once in the month when I have to buy washing powder and toilet paper. Are you including these items in your budget or will it be just food?

  26. says

    I’ll definitely be interested to see how this turns out. The challenge is simple (in theory), but in practice I can imagine it will really get you thinking about how regular people can nourish their families on a shoestring. I’d imagine we’ll all be able to take a few hints from what you find out.

    A few vendors at our farmer’s market take foodstamps, which I think is awesome. Nothing beats a farmer’s market for real, nourishing food that’s also affordable.

  27. Jenny says

    Chandelle -

    Gah!  It is so hard to make it work on a budget crunch like that.  And you’re right that as soon as you start earning, the benefits go down so, in many cases, you’re in a tougher position AFTER you start picking up better income.  It’s really hard.  It must be great to be pursuing a degree in nutrition with the goal of working with the poor and underprivileged.  I think that nutrition education is critically important and sorely lacking – it’s wonderfuly that folks like you are willing to pursue it. 

     

    Take Care -

    Jenny

     

  28. Jenny says

    JJ -

    You make some interesting points about the WIC program.  It’s got its faults: namely, when it was instituted it was done so largely to support large food manufacturers under the guise of helping women, infants and children.  So, for the longest time, WIC recipients would receive cheap, nutritionally inferior food like breakfast cereals, juice, RBGH milk and peanut butter with loads of hydrogenated oil.  That’s changing, slowly.

    I do not have a problem with the WIC or SNAP programs as I believe that our nation should support the underprivileged and lend a helping hand to our fellow citizens and residents.  If anyone deserves nutritional support its pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children – because kids can’t help the situation they’re born into and everyone deserves good nutrition.  That said, I’d like to see these programs take a grass-roots turn.  We need to see small communities providing this support.   That’s why my husband and I have gone to great lengths to start our own farmers market nutrition program when none was available in our state and why we go to great lengths to ensure our foodbank has adequate, wholesome foods instead of relying on near-expired hand-me-downs from the food industry.  Similarly, that’s why we also offer educational classes (free to WIC recipients) outlining how to prepare and preserve wholesome foods. 

    I love that you eat on $150 or less, and could definitely use any pointers you may have!

    Thanks -

    Jenny

  29. says

    Jj’s point wasn’t about how horrible the WIC program is for being a corporate subsidy. Jj’s point was that WIC recipients LOOOOVE the program and are horrible people for suckin’ up the taxpayer dime. I’m not happy that his/her/its comment was allowed to stand. Because he/she/it doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Has anyone who reads this blog and is anti-government, or anti-welfare, ever *read* or *listened* to a benefits recipient’s side of the story? Were you aware there’s at least one publication out there put together by people who are benefits recipients? I’ve included the URL with this comment; click on my name to visit the site. You should really go hear it from their point of view.

    And now here’s mine. I was on WIC and Medicaid. I could have gone on TANF, but when I got pregnant with my daughter her dad and I were still on decent terms, both of us wanted the baby and we knew going in that I wanted to be home with her. We’ve both had bad experiences in the school system, and we wanted better for her. Well, I got pregnant about a year sooner than I should have, all kinds of crap happened and threw me off emotional kilter so I dropped out of school (which I would have had to do to stay home with her anyway), and I wound up on my own in a little ‘hood apartment on very low income. Scary times. At that point I really considered welfare, but I was getting help from other sources and I did not want TANF pushing me into a McDonald’s job from which I might never escape and which would NOT pay me enough to manage everything I had to manage, much less allow me to build savings–and now, given that most local/state governments are broke and the feds aren’t far behind, I’m glad I made that choice.

    But let me tell you about WIC and Medicaid in a nutshell: while I was glad I had them because my life would have been much worse without them, both programs suck. Pardon my French. WIC, as Jj’s defender astutely pointed out, is a corporate subsidy program that gives recipients junk food and a few low-quality whole foods, and nothing more. Medicaid has, I believe, the lowest payout of any “health insurance” program, so most docs don’t take it and the ones who do barely give a darn about you. I’m pretty sure I’ve been going around with thyroid issues since I gave birth to my daughter, as I put on twenty pounds in less than two months and kept ballooning out after that even though I was breastfeeding her, but all the doc would do was a TSH and did not offer to go any farther. And all my state can talk about is how expensive Medicaid is, even though it has the lowest payout and even though they pay for it with federal funds, so they’re always looking for ways to screw over recipientssave more money on the program, which never means anything good for the people depending on it.

    I’ve also been on the military healthcare system; spent my first 25 years of life on it in various capacities. I was at the point I would have gladly married a soldier again just to have some security, since I was in no position to command a job with good medical benefits. And I don’t want to ever marry a soldier again. The life of a military spouse is equally thankless.

    So NO, I didn’t relish spending “the taxpayers’ money,” didn’t relish being treated like a little kid, didn’t relish knowing that even with me being a bum and qualifying for the stuff, it still wasn’t enough.

    And it makes me furious that the same conservatives who claim that the way benefits programs are set up does not give recipients wiggle room to get off of them, then turn around and accuse recipients of staying on the programs because they’re too lazy to get off of them. Which is it? Make up your minds, people. Are you on their side or not?

    (I’m no longer on either program. WIC was inadequate and my little girl’s dad started stepping up more with grocery money. And I haven’t become insured, so yes, I’ve gone most of the last five years with no coverage at all… but from where I’m sitting it’s roughly the same thing, and my daughter’s covered by her daddy’s insurance so it’s not like she’s missing anything.)

    The feds are starting to get a clue about all this. There are programs that allow recips to build up savings now, to start a business or whatever. I suppose that’s a bad thing too, to some people. But you can’t just go from accepting the handout to not accepting it if you have no other safety net. Jobs paying $25k a year after years of you getting less than $10k do not suddenly drop out of the sky. Even having a college degree is no guarantee of anything. So what are people supposed to do? There are some possibilities, some answers, but they require people to think outside the box and heck, you know how hard it is for most of you to do that (they call you a “conservative” for a REASON)–why would you expect someone on hard times to be any more capable of it? There’s a reason it makes the national news when it happens–it almost never happens!

    There was this guy a few years ago who did an experiment where he deliberately went homeless with not much money and he got himself into a home and into a good job. The press touted this as “evidence” that poor people are just malingering. Well. He was white, twentysomething, single, male, sane, healthy, and had no kids. Under those circumstances I could make it in life too, and never need a dime of federal money.

    Which, by the way, I have upon occasion paid into that pool myself, because I have not always been on the down and out. I was in the military once. I’ve had civilian jobs since then. You just never know when your life is going to turn around for the worse. And when you’re hit extra hard because the person you were married to wasn’t the most responsible person either… well… it makes for interesting times. We can’t all lead charmed lives where we make all the right decisions and never misstep once. Sorry.

  30. Jenny says

    Tara -

    You really hit the nail on the head with your comment.  Farmers markets, CSAs, gleaning the fields and community gardens are all fantastic approaches to low-cost food and to sustainably produced foods, BUT these are growing and, largely, the sustainable food movement is still in its infancy.  We use them and advocate for them, but most people haven’t the time to source out these supports or are unwilling to make the effort to do so.  And while we’ll undoubtedly focus on those aspects of low-cost, but sustainable food at Nourished Kitchen and have done so in the past – the focus of this challenge is to show how anyone can eat well and economically and easily. 

    Take care and thanks for the comment -

    Jenny

     

  31. Dana says

    And, because what I just posted was completely off-topic except it might make someone feel better after they read Jj’s comparatively short little screed… sorry about that…

    I appreciate the efforts of so many in the blogosphere to help folks on food aid stretch that dollar farther. But for some of us it’s still not going to be enough.

    1. People need more fat in their diets, full stop. Most of us aren’t getting enough, and of the fat we do eat, not nearly enough of it is saturated. The usual source for fat is either (a) older animals which have built up fat stores or (b) organ meats. Unfortunately…

    2. …It’s hard to find organ meats, except liver. That may be enough for some people but it is, as a rule, a fairly lean organ to boot, unless you get it from an animal specifically fed to develop fatty liver. That kind of liver is very expensive. Other organs are a better bet, but a lot harder to find, and they don’t generally have butchers in inner-city neighborhoods. In rural areas it’s a bit better but rural people eat the least rural of anyone I know, at least in southwest Louisiana.

    2a. There’s always tallow and lard, but unless you’re Latino, and even that group’s starting to back away from their own foods, you’re not likely to want to eat lard and most folks don’t know what tallow is anymore.

    2b. Also, if you eat grass-fed animals then they’re lean. Subsisting on lean meat is a terrible idea. It can cause rabbit starvation if you’re under a lot of stress, which poor people generally are.

    3. So there’s always dairy as a fat source, but all of us here know how woefully inadequate the available dairy is for most poor people. Where it is available it costs at least twice as much as the factory stuff. You can get powdered milk on WIC and that’s even worse for you. And most of these folks on aid are being brainwashed to consume low-fat dairy, and margarine instead of butter. You see the problem.

    A person who can obtain enough healthy animal foods and enough saturated fat is going to be healthy themselves regardless of what else they can get. If they cut their carb intake then their glucose won’t be fighting with their vitamin C for the same receptors and they’ll be able to get by on less fruit and veggies too. But if they go without the animal foods I don’t like their prospects in the long run.

    Especially with people who are already metabolically damaged, and what they’re typically told when exhorted to “eat whole foods to save money on food stamps” is to subsist on rice and beans. There is no vegan traditional culture. If they can pull off subsisting on broth as well, they might get by somewhat, but they will still be missing that all-important fat intake.

    All of this underscores the necessity of getting off these programs as soon as humanly possible but that requires so many other problems in the typical recipient’s life to be dealt with, that probably never will be dealt with because any time a well-meaning liberal suggests a government program to do the job, he or she is shouted down by the conservatives. And these programs never turn out to be anything much better than a financial prison anyway.

    So I don’t have any answers. But advice like this, I guess, is a useful stopgap if nothing else. If only the government would offer subsidies for animals raised according to their species needs and organically, rather than pumping that money into food we really don’t need… that would go a long way to fixing this. But we’re not going to be able to do without the government playing some role. Food has always been expensive, and one need only look at countries where they have no government food programs at all, and must depend on charities and the UN, to understand what could happen in a conservatives’ paradise here. And already had happened in the United States once upon a time, at least in the city slums, or in the rural areas of the South during the pellagra epidemic. Only cow owners were spared from that one–how many poor can afford a cow?

  32. Jenny says

    Gelynne -

    I LOVE your perspective in this!  I think a reasonable number to shoot for for a family of seven might be $529 or $132 / week.  That’s essentially the budget we’ll be working with ($227 for three is roughly the same as $529 for seven).  I have it on good word, though that the SNAP benefit is increasing in October by $20 / week for a family of 4 so you might even shoot for $150.  That extra $50 will definitely help to eat healthy! 

    Take Care and I hope you join me -

     

    Jenny

     

  33. says

    I’m a farmer in Western PA and this year I filled out the paperwork to accept food stamps as payment for products sold at the farmers market. I raise Pastured chickens and organic vegetables.

    The food stamp program would not allow people to use food stamps to buy my CSA shares.

  34. JustLoveFood says

    Hi Jenny- Where are you located? I think it’s wonderful that some of the comments have reflected the fact that some farmers markets are accepting EBT. I commend Dave for making the move to accept them at his farm. Personlly, I think any grocer/farmer who doesn’t is discriminating against the poor.

    I also think that depending where you are will affect food availability and cost. It’s been proven that the lower income communities, who are the most likely to be on Food Stamps, do not have the same access even to your basic chain grocer.

    That being said, I love that you are doing this. I will be following to see how it goes and I hope it shows that it is possible and what’s really needed for those who do live and eat with public assistance is nutritional education.

    • Jenny says

      JustLoveFood –
      I live in rural Colorado and the cost of living here is exceptionally high. The last time I checked, it was 60% higher than the national average. Chain grocery stores are in the next town over or about 30 miles away as the crow flies.

      Take Care –
      Jenny

  35. says

    Thank you for this Jenny. Really thank you! Our EBT budget is $269 a month for a family of four. We supplement it from our bill money when possible, but only $100 if that. We have no farmer’s markets, no CSAs, and no “health” food groceries. We do have a conventionally grown veggie and fruit stand that accepts EBT and a Mennonite Bulk Foods store also mostly conventional that will accept EBT. I don’t have access to organic meats without traveling at least 3 hours. Most fresh veggies aren’t available in organic and those that are are not fresh. We have an organic garden, but it didn’t do well this year. We have chickens, but they are too little to lay right now. We can get organic eggs but they are $3.69 a dozen, so I buy little of them. Our family easily uses 6 eggs a day.
    I am striving to provide the best that I can for my family. I buy the best food available to me and I have to be satisfied with that because there is no other options. I’m not asking for bigger handouts ( we are working on sustainability), but I am hoping (someday) for a food revolution, so that even us rural folks (whom many have lost their traditional foodways through commercialism) can have access to real food.
    I try my best to help others in my area or anywhere know their options as I have fully researched mine, so that we may do the best with what we have both monetarily and with availability.

  36. Noelle says

    We are on food stamps in CO and I still have one little guy on WIC. I go to my regular cashiers at the store and sneak my whole milk by, even though my son is 4 and his vouchers say 2%. I have 6 children altogether. Our food stamps is about $425 for the month. Thankfully my husband barters with our CSA so we get eggs and beef and pork and lamb and chicken as well as our vegetable share. That helps a great deal. I do use my food stamps money to buy wheat berries to make our bread, and that is a great way to boost our nutrition for a little money.

    I really look forward to watching this challenge!

    and whoever suggested Costco, I’m not sure they accept EBT. We have a Sam’s Club membership thanks to my dad, and they don’t accept EBT.

  37. Carisa Curtis says

    I don’t have time to read through all the responses so maybe this was already mentioned ….But I would love to see this done adding in an allergy diet. My son is allergic to eggs, nuts,sesame and all beans (all legumes, peanuts, peas, beans,soy). I’m really having a hard time staying on budget, feeding all 4 (sometimes 5) of us healthy while staying away from things he’s allergic to.

  38. Linda says

    Jenny, Thank you for your charitable responses to your readers, especially JJ.
    Some people do not believe that the government should be feeding anyone. He/she certainly has a right to the opinion. Dana, that opinion did follow someone who wrote the she “loves WIC”. Please, Dana, maybe JJ knows exactly what she is saying, because maybe she has worn those shoes. Some of us have been down that road and took what we needed. Others of us do qualify for help but turn it down because we believe it is better to eat peanut butter three times a day than allow the government to pay our way. That’s okay. I qualify for WIC now with my husband working full time as a teacher, but we have said “no” for now.
    Let’s face it; there are abuses. There are those who take and take, and are reared to believe that it is the government’s job to take care of them and feed them. These people build resentment in others, understandably. Then there are some who need a break now and then because they are in between jobs or just can’t get through something.
    I’ve been a military wife (and I certainly never expected anyone to thank me) and was grateful for the WIC I received while my husband served his country. He worked hard FOR THE GOVERNMENT and we received a little help to buy milk.
    In the name of charity, we ought to be sensitive to the needs of others, not just their words.
    Sorry to use this up off the topic. I hope my words have somehow softened someone’s heart.
    Jenny, thanks for doing this. Our family of eight could use the help of ideas to save money our school teacher budget.
    peace~

  39. Leslie says

    Hi Jenny,
    I’m joining in your challenge. Thanks for the idea. I’m going to feed my family of 13 on $800 per month for October. Here is the blog I started to keep track of my progress. I’m new to blogging, so forgive the look of it.
    Leslie

  40. Lisa Z says

    Jenny, thank you so much for doing this. Good luck! I will be following closely, as our budget varies from $200-500/month for food (depending on heating season, extra jobs, etc.). My husband is a public school teacher, 20 years in the classroom, Master’s degree and all that, and he makes decent money but we are paying down debt as fast as possible, and trying to build up savings nearly from scratch, so money is tight. What you’re doing obviously resonates with a lot of people right now.

  41. says

    WOW, look at all these comments! :)

    Nice job Jenny – this is obviously a topic that many people can weigh in on! Perhaps you could write a little piece and discuss a bit of food policy and obesity, so you have a chance to win the Stuffed Nation giveaway I am doing! I think these issues really tie in.

    I would so join you on this, but we are going to be away for most of October, and I won’t be in my kitchen. But I might take up the challenge myself at a later time.

    Thanks!

  42. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for going after something like this. I think this is *sorely* needed in the traditional foods communities. Instead of addressing the issue in the way that you are what’s given is typically heavy on the farmer’s market/csa/bulk buying premise which as you’ve pointed out is not a possibility for everyone. Which leaves the question – what can those without the financial means do to eat a nutrient dense diet? Thank you for not just paying lip service.

    On another note, I’m intrigued by the challenge as it is, but most especially by the wonderings of others as it relates to food allergies/sensitivities. I’m going to have to consider this further since we’re embarking on a number of dietary restrictions for my husband.

    Oh, and Dana – I really appreciated your comments. So very needed in times like this.

  43. says

    Hi Jenny – this sounds like such a good idea! Fortunately, I’ve been on this “buying plan” for almost a year… Our family has been trying to balance school, work, and children on a very minimal budget since our marriage. My husband works a full time job, and attends school full time, and I stay at home with our two (almost 3) children – the Food Stamps program has kept us from being completely desperate on many an occasion. For our family of 2 adults, 2 children under 3 we receive $257 a month here in California, and there is no “extra supplementing” from our budget. I’ve been incredibly blessed that we are able to have chickens, a goat, and a garden, which greatly helps. Also, I wanted to note: I strained our budget enormously in the beginning (before we moved) by keeping a “traditional foods” lifestyle… Now that we have a little more surplus (not buying raw milk, cheese, yogurt, organic vegetables/fruit, eggs), we are much more able to end up with money at the end of the month. I’m certainly looking forward to your challenge to see if there’s any new tips/ideas I can glean! Thanks!

  44. Jenny says

    Dave -

    Thank you for your comment.  It’s always a pleasure to hear that farmers have taken the steps to accept EBT.  The next step is to educate folks about the availability of these options.  It’s interesting that the program disallowed you from accepting them for your CSAs.  I know some CSAs do accept them.  I’ll have to look into that more.

    Thanks!

    - Jenny

  45. Jenny says

    Kelli -

    This is a lot more challenging than I’d hoped.  I spent hours pouring over the sales flyers and a spreadhseet I’d built to analyze the cost-per-serving.  I agree with you: I want to see a food revolution where more people have greater access to nourishing whole foods and the farmers earn a decent wage for their work.

    Keep up the good fight -

    Jenny

  46. Cass says

    What a great idea! Thank you! I’m always looking for money saving ideas and whenever I read a blog or article I’m so disappointed because their ideas of saving money are to come down to the $637 or maybe $503 a month food budget level. My budget really is $200-$250 a month for a family of five. And I’m sorry to tell some of your responders but SNAP and WIC are things I’ve considered although not currently in. It may be fine for me to live off of bananas and peanut butter but how can I make my three growing boys live like that. Some suggestions for meals are never eat a whole piece of meat per person. My husband really misses that but it saves a lot to spread your meat around, shredded chicken, ground beef, etc. Enchiladas, soups, and quesadillas are especially yummy ways I’ve found to make nutritious and cheap meals. I can’t wait to hear your experience and learn from your nutrition knowledge and menus! Thanks again!!!

  47. Jenny says

    Pampered Mom -

    I really appreciate your encouraging comments – and everyone’s – on this challenge.  You addressed a subject that’s important to me and that is that in the traditional foods movement we largely focus on CSAs, bulk buying, farmers markets for reducing costs and that’s extremely important  and I’m a strong proponent of farmer direct marketing; however, the true challenge lies in the fact that these outlets are just now becoming widely available to the middle class, but they are still NOT widely available to the underprivileged.  We need to educate consumers that healthy choices can be made at all levels and while what I’ll find at my grocery store is FAR from ideal by comparison to what I find at the farmers market, I’ll still be able to make healthy choices for my family and that’s what the challenge is all about in the end.

    I hadn’t considered allergens in working on this challenge, but given the interest from SO many readers, I think I’ll try to do at least one week on the challenge allergen-free. 

    Take Care and Thank you.

    Jenny

  48. Jenny says

    Jenn -

    I was really surprised – pleasantly so – by the number of comments on the challenge.  I think the need is definitely there for something like this.  I’m definitely going to participate in the Stuffed Nation giveaway.  Just got to sit myself down and do it!

    Take Care -

    Jenny

     

  49. says

    Really interesting. I’m looking forward to reading this month. In fact, I’m going to subscribe so I don’t miss these posts. I’m always looking for ways to cut our food budget while maintaining a high level of nutrition. I can’t bring myself to buy certain fruits and vegetables if they aren’t organic now since I can’t stand the thought of eating chemicals. But they can be so expensive. Most of the time I end up buying a few fruits and a few veggies for the week and then I just commit that we’re going to eat all of it so nothing goes bad. We end up with less variety during the week, but mostly organic and it’s all real food.

  50. Alecia says

    I really like the idea of this challenge and I would be interested in some of the meal planning tips. My husband and I are faring pretty well in this economic crunch, all things considered, but we do want to tighten up our budget while still eating healthy. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with how to do that. My husband is gluten intolerant and I recently have started a special diet that restricts quite a few things, including processed foods. I know the key is planning, but some tips on the how and the what would be wonderful. Thanks, Jenny!

  51. says

    This is a great idea! This issue of frugality has been on my mind for gluten free famlies, especially since they are prone to buying expensive GF processed foods. They are real budget busters! I did a blog this week that addresses this issue, http://www.thinkingoutsidethebreadbox.com.

    I received food stamps and WIC when I was a young, teen mom. I found WIC more helpful as I could get some better foods than what was avaialble that the government would give you for free such as cheese and canned foods that were full of sugar. The food stamp personnel seemed to want to keep me on the rolls. They routinely (except one gentleman) discouraged me strongly from going to school. I eventually gave up getting food stamps and borrowed more student loan money to make ends meet because I couldn’t take the berating.

    Anyway, that sure seems like another life time.

    I am anxious to follow along.

  52. sarah says

    Thank you for doing this. My family of 5 is on a $500 budget of FS. We also do recieve WIC. I began my TF journey this past year and am now considering giving up the WIC. IT’s not very useful as of late although there is promise of change thsi fall. The changes being made to the WIC program in some ways will help a bit,but in others still fall short. I have 2 small children with autism spectrum disorders, aspergers and SPD, and the baby is being evualuated this week with Eraly Intervention for some issues. It became very apparent early on in my oldest DD life that she had some food sensativities. I am still trying to figure that all out,but have at this point cut out milk and now soy also. I think she would be fine on raw milk,but it is not legal nor available in my state. Processed foods containing colorings and flavors, HFCS ect ect seem to make my kids sick.Gluten seems to be a problem also. Here are some thought on the WIC program in my state:
    -We asked (begged) for lactaid milk. It is the long shelf life milk,but does not have the hormones in it. The hormones are definately a problem (where do I need to move to find raw milk so readily available? lol)
    – I often buy oatmeal as thats the least processed although recently the program was changed to only allow us to buy the single serve packs of non flavored (who is running this program?..)I open all the packs into an old oatmeal can and use it like the regular stuff. Although you can visibly see it’s of a lesser quality.
    The amounts of juice the program gives is crazy. My husband takes it to work and we use apple juice as a sweetener for some things. I also mix the juice with Kombucha for the girls.You can make jelly from apple juice and while its not organic jam it is still better than store bought jelly with colorings and HFCS.
    – for 2yrs now we havn’t gotten the farmers market checks. We were told there wasn’t eneugh and that they go to seniors first.
    – this fall the program is changing and we have been told we will only be allowed to get 2% milk and soy milk for dd. Neither will sit well in her belly. If I let her drink all that soy and dairy she will have awefull diareah.
    – I do culture the lactaid in my crockpot to make yogurt. I am not so sure it’s the best yogurt in town,but the recipe makes alot and it’s free.I strain it for the whey. I also make buttermilk from the lactaid for soaking the beans and my flour.
    As far as making the FS last through the month. We splurged for a BJ’s membership. They accept EBT. If hams are on sale for $5 I buy 5 and put em in the freezer. We freecycled a stand up freezer to do just this. I never pay full price for meat,butter really anything. IF butter is on sale I buy a bunch. We try to stick to the outer edges of the store to avoid anything that will upsette dd food intolorences. So we eat mosty meat,fruit, veggies and cultured dairy. I thik we eat well this way. My kids are never hungry and IMO they are eating better than some of my wealthier friends kids. There are no fruit snacks and processed cookies ect ect… lotsa apples and bananas though ;) I do read these food blogs and crave grasfed meats and fresh raw milk for my kids who so obviously need it.
    I look around my WIC office and realize that my kids are the only kids who eat this way. I try to tell others about making yogurt and lentil dishes, but I think they all look at me like I am nuts.So while I think your expierment is great I am wondering how we can reach those who really need to hear the info?..

  53. says

    This is great!

    Our family receives financial assistance currently due to my boyfriends job loss. For a family of 3 with one earner, we get $365/mo. Our grocery bill usually exceeds this because of the amount of meat we eat and the quality I demand we buy. Additionally, I am lucky in that our farmer’s market accepts EBT so I can buy locally with my cash assistance. I have to admit to being amazed by the dollar amounts some of the responses have quoted – that is impressive budgeting on everyone’s part!

    There are definitely ways to lower one’s grocery bills by buying real food, however there are also distinct expenses when buying real food (raw milk, and grass fed or pastured meat being the best examples). I look forward to seeing how you do it!

    It should also be noted that on average, US households only spend 9% of their income on food – European households spend between 15 and 20%! Even if your focus on Real Food exceeds your budget and requires sacrifice elsewhere, is that really a bad thing? Good food = good health.

    – RFM

  54. says

    Jj- i’m sure you’ve moved on to other blogs by now, but your comments seem very ignorant and offensive, and I ampersonally surprised that the only response was from Dara. WIC is certainly agovornment program, but guess what? so is the military (or militaryindustrial complex), so are the courts, so is congress, so are safe roadsand public transportation… i could go on and on. our lives, whether you “believe” in it or not, are enmeshed in institutions created by us, taxpayers and therefore created by “govorment”. what is so terrible about people eating food? would you rather children starvedor were severly malnourished and became mentally retarded due tomalnutrition? yes, WIC has problems, so does any public institution. its not great that WIC won’t allow organics any more and its sad that so many WIC recipients choose formulaover breastfeeding, but at least children are getting fed.

  55. Lauren says

    I’m THRILLED you will be doing an allergen free week–this has been a major topic in the MDC traditional foods and allergies forums lately.

    We are gluten, dairy, soy and corn free due to ds’s sensitivities and I’d LOVE to see what you can do to feed your family of 4 for a week w/ a/b $57 while cutting (hopefully) those alleregens out in a TF manner!

    Thank you for doing this! Can’t wait to check back on this!

  56. Lauren says

    Excuse me–$57 a week for a family of 3–not four. This will be REALLY helpful for me, as we are a family of 3 as well! :)

  57. Lauren says

    One more thing I wanted to add!

    Efforts to put EBT machines at farmer’s markets make a huge difference, and it *is* happening in some places!

    I’m in a small city in NYS with a pretty poor urban center, (surrounded by much wealthier suburbs). Our major ‘public market’ is located right in the poorer urban area–accessible to many of the poor living in our city–and it is AMAZING–open T/Th/S, with lots of local farmers and homegrown produce (for awesome, low prices), some grass fed meats available and lots of pastured eggs. And VERY cheap, MUCH cheaper than buying any produce at the grocery store. I feel so fortunate to live here after reading about folks not being able to spend their EBT dollars at their local farmer’s markets. But I think, in time, with enough folks speaking up for change, it will happen!

    I’m just grateful there are so many folks (like you Jenny) working to make farmer’s markets options for everyone, even those who are poorer…

  58. Lisa Z says

    Sarah, what you’re doing with your EBT/WIC foods is amazing! You are an inspiration. We’re not on EBT or WIC b/c we don’t qualify, but right now we’re working hard to pay off debt and save for an emergency fund so our food budget is often under $400 for a month for our family of four. I’m so programmed that organic is the only healthy food these days, but I can’t always afford it. You’re right there are degrees and most of our kids, if we even have a little interest in nourishing foods, are way better off than the majority.

    My son and I have health issues (mild autism for him, mild fibromyalgia for me) that are affected by what we eat. I love coming to your blog, Jenny, and getting inspired by what people can do on a budget!

  59. Linda says

    Hold on there, Emily. One cannot compare military benefits to food stamps or WIC. Those in the military are WORKING for the government. Their benefits come with the job and risks; you should know that.

    I’ll take it one step further and say that the roads for which the tax payer pays is used by the taxpayer.

    JJ’s argument is that many people who receive food stamps don’t work and don’t pay taxes.
    Keep it real, and compare apples to apples. I sure hope you can find peace and not hold grudges against those who don’t agree with you. Don’t let him/her get to you!

  60. ChelleWeezie says

    I was impressed that with oregon EBT you were allowed to buy garden seeds and starts for veggies. I was not impressed that you can buy papa murphys take and bake pizza.

    • Jenny says

      Diana –
      Absolutely … I’m glad you stumbled across it! The low-budget food’s been healthy, but I’m a snacker and this budget is seriously lacking in dark chocolate and artisan cheese.

      Glad to see you around!
      – Jenny

  61. deb b says

    My sister runs a small store with many food stamp recipients. She recently commented on all the soda and junk foods being purchased with money from the program (and also recipients are allowed to purchase lottery tickets and beer from a slightly different pool of funds within food stamps?). This would seem to only exacerbate the obesity/health care problems in this country. Wouldn’t it make sense to not allow the purchase of soda and high sugar processed foods? How did this get passed (or has it always been this way)? Would love to be enlightened on this!

  62. says

    Hi everyone. I just stumbled across this post so I missed the challenge but I think it’s a great topic. I wrote a post about nourishing your family on WIC/SNAP benefits. It’s geared towards West Michigan which is where I live, but the overall ideas can work for anywhere. My husband is being placed on a heart transplant list after having a reaction to an antibiotic that damaged his heart and sent him into heart failure. Our family has been facing challenges we never thought we would face. It’s good for everyone to understand that it can happen to you too. We are trying to make the best of it and keep our children nourished.

    http://westmicrunchy.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-nourish-your-family-using-wic.html

  63. christy says

    I live in Iowa, I’m not sure what the national standing is, but I receive $520 in benefits for a family of 4. I have 2 children, one is 8 and the other 2. I only eat 1 maybe 2 meals a day so my kids can eat. I’m not lazy, I work hard and go to school full-time. I receive TANF as well, but the lousy $426/mo (unemployment gives you $375/week) isn’t even enough to pay our rent. To be eligble for TANF I have to go to school full time for a program THEY approve (which is why I am working for 2 degrees at the same time, because my liberal arts won’t count and I’m going to be an archeologist) or job search for 30 hours per week. Minimum wage is $7.29 here now. On TANF I make $4.05/hour.
    I was on WIC, and I hate it as much as I appreciated it. I had friends who were able to get CHOCOLATE milk with their WIC, but I couldn’t even get the proper formula for my 4 mo. premature son because the Dr. worded it a little wrong. The doctor lived 1.5 hours away, so I couldn’t just run back up and have him change it. He has always had trouble with weight, and was supposed to be on formula for longer:
    1. because he was 3 months early, so his “year” of forumla shouldn’t have ended with his actual birthdate. Both my doctor and the WIC people agreed, but they wouldn’t change it. I tried to buy the formula myself, but then we wouldn’t have any food at all after the first week or week and a half of the month.
    2. because of his low weight, he was actually supposed to go on the stage 2 formula after we were done with regular. This isn’t covered either.
    3. I breastfed. Or at least as long as I could, since my breast pump was from WIC, I was only supposed to get the pump OR formula. However, even in the NICU (intensive care unit) I had to mix breastmilk with high-calorie formula so he got enough calories. The doctors called WIC and explained this, but I could not get the formula if I breastfed. period. I had to stop breastfeeding, because I couldn’t produce enough milk on my own anyways and when I told them that, they said I was a “horrible mother” and gave me a half-hour lecture about the benefits of breastfeeding! With all of my “new mom” emotions, it made me more depressed than I’d like to recall. There is NO support for breastfeeding supplementation or for any “special needs” cases. I was able to get lactose-free milk after getting a note from my doctor, but I wasn’t able to use them because I can only purchase gallons and lactaid-free milk here comes only in half gallons.

    Formula is about $80/120 a week when I was on it. The only formula you can get is Similac. It used to be Enfamil but they changed it. It can’t be any kind of Similac either-only the one written on your check. If they’re out or don’t have as many as your check states, then you just can’t get formula. No substitutions or “rain checks” (going out and buying the rest later).
    Our food stamps never last the month, and us adults don’t really eat so that our kids can. I really look forward to learning some new ways to try and make our budget stretch.

    Also, thank you for realizing that most of us on FS aren’t supplementing unless we take it out of our bills!

  64. says

    Hi Jenny –
    I’m speaking to a group of Teen MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) on Thursday and thought of this post. but, I’m having difficulty finding a link to the subsequent posts (you mention updates in October, and I remember reading them – just can’t find them). Could you help me out?

  65. Christina says

    I think you were too stringent on your budget though. Of course you couldn’t do it! I think it would have been better to use the actual food stamp budget you would get it using only food stamps, which would be $526 today, in 2012. People don’t have a realistic idea of what their food budget should be today, and using that as a teaching tool might help more people than picking an unrealistic food budget. Sure, you might not be reaching the poorest of the food stamp recipients, those who are only getting half the food stamp maximum and not spending any of their earnings on food, but you also aren’t accounting for the food those families will be receiving through WIC or through free lunch and breakfast programs for their kids at school. With that consideration, you might honestly reduce your food needs because your child would be getting additional food assistance. I would love to see you take this challenge again, with the real, full SNAP budget for your family. If you wanted to rebuild the experiment with less than the total food budget coming from SNAP benefits, you could also bring up ways you skimped on other life expenditures to make it possible to make your total food budget possible. In my opinion, people should be adjusting their lives to be able to meet their food budget instead of adjusting their foods to go below a realistic budget for nourishing foods.

  66. Sam says

    Hi, Jenny. I know this is an old post but is this challenge still posted on your website? I would love to read the results for this. Thanks!

  67. sullybuttesphotojunkie says

    I would love to see the Food stamp program run like WIC where only certain foods were eligible for purchase. The junk food and expensive food purchases would stop in a heartbeat. I live in the middle of seven Indian reservations and on the 10th of the month, our town is besieged with EBT recipients abusing the system with an over inflated sense of entitlement. It infuriates me these people are eating better than I am at yours and my expense. It is no wonder these people are morbidly obese to the point they cannot walk but have to use a scooter to get around our store. I had at one point $80 per month to spend for food, and yet I made sure I bought as much healthy food as I could. There was no room for junk food, I had to make those food dollars count.

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