Friday, May 18, 2007

Food Stamp increase?

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you will remember me begging for donations to help pay for food for myself and my cats. (Thank you again all who donated. I got cheap veggies from the farmer's market and was so happy about having veggies instead of pancakes and malt-o-meal which was all I was eating at the time.)

Well, I may not have to do that again (*crosses fingers*) Well US Congresspeople are trying to live on the paltry $1 a meal that most Americans on food stamps have to live on:

Their spell on "the Food Stamp Challenge" will end on Monday, just before the House Agriculture Committee is expected to begin overhauling U.S. farm law. Food stamps and other public nutrition programs account for two-thirds of the spending governed by the "farm bills" written every few years.

Food stamp benefits are roughly $1 a meal or $3 a day. With that budget, the U.S. representatives said, they found starchy foods are attractively priced and little chance for variety. "I kept taking things out of my (shopping) cart," said Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat.

"It's amazing how hard it is to buy fruits and vegetables," said Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, who also enrolled in the challenge. With two loaves of bread, Ryan planned to "allocate" 12 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches among his meals.


Ellen Vollenger of the anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center said the Food Stamp Challenge "is a reality check." Various public officials including state governors and city mayors have used it to get a first-hand taste of food stamp budgeting
Story here.

This is the only way people will actually get enough money to buy food for an entire month. As it stands now, I am not the only one who runs out of food that recieves food stamps. Those of us who have the audacity to buy something other then starch products, dried beans, and rice often run out approximately 2 weeks after recieving the months money. Unfortunately I am more interested in eating healthily then I am about making my food stamps last a month. And I shop at discount groceries and liquidators, and the farmer's market where I find the cheapest veggies (not to mention freshest).

The fact that some legislators are taking the food stamp challenge makes me very happy, because it's the only way that they'll change anything. It's depressing how little they give us each month. For me, my disability pay went up by $10 and my food stamps went down by $25. I have approximately $118 to spend on food each month, and unfortunately the only time the stupid food bank is open I'm in class. You'd think they'd have it open at least one evening during the week, not that they have much for someone who is a vegetarian like me. (Though if I weren't a vegetarian you couldn't pay me to eat the 'chicken in a can.') Lucky for me I have a friend who works at the co-op who gets food from the free box for me.

But all this is still not enough. It's not enough for a lot of people. I would wager that most of the 26 million on food stamps can't make it last an entire month either.

Hat tip Grrrl Scientist


Anonymous said...

"stupid food bank"? just for that, i'm leaving an "anonymous" comment, you know, cause it's "rude".

why not volunteer at your local food bank so it can be open on weekends, and stop your damn whining. you should be supplementing your food stamp dollars with your own. and if you can't do that, then get by how you can. but please, dont stoop to calling the food bank stupid.

that is just RUDE.

mekhit said...

Hey, I know this might sound nuts, but have you ever thought of dumpster diving? I have some vegan and vegetarian friends who do it, and one of them had a party once with all-dumpstered food...There were Thai dishes, cheese and crackers, Naked juice smoothies and more. Of course, it helps if you go with a friend or two so it feels more like a social event than actual dumpster diving. :P And honestly, my friends are reasonably normal people! I have no idea where you live, but if it's in the Twin Cities you should let me know and I can hook you up the next time they dumpster dive.

Oh, and anonymous, it seems like you're the one who needs to quit whining about the blog of someone you've never met. What she wrote is called letting off steam. Go get a life, asshat.

lost clown said...

I was going to erase that first comment until I read your reply. Now it stays.

I do go dumpster diving, (I have coveralls that my friends spraypainted "Dumpster Superstar" on it), but unfortunately it's slim pickin's here, when I live in cities I'm able to dumpster enough food to keep myself going with the little amount of food stamps. I remember the Twin Cities being good, the best dumpstering happens in Austin outside of the Whole Foods distributory dumpster. Thanks for offering to hook me up with them, it's always nice to have a team.

lisa said...

I personally know how difficult and depressing to live on nothing. I see you have math skills, Could you tutor high school students? I often typed resumes and other documents. I would use the library and save it to a disk. The person who wanted me to do their typing had to supply the disk and xx amount for what needed to be typed
I baked my own bread, grew sprouts and made a container garden with greens, carrots and tomatoes. I was really creatvie because I had two kids. I had to use cloth diapers and cloth female products. I finished college. I would like to say I still don't have hard times but it is definitely is easier. Being poor is hard,it can make you hard. I work in social services now, and I never have forgootten what is was like to wash clothes by hand and hand them in the cold, or having to scrounge change and bottles to buy tiolet paper. My boss is always surprised I am so resourceful with our consumers. I don't look down because i was there. I imagine that food it not your only issue. You have other needs as well, personal grooming, cleaning supplies, shelter. Take care and keep using your voice

Tonya said...

whooooooohoo i have 2 kids and my food stamp balance was 396 a month just checked it 5 min ago now it's 467. Going to Kroger's now. Good Luck !!! Not bragging just a lil' happy

Ann said...

Keep in mind, food stamps are to supplement, not to be your entire budget. If you're running out and you're going mostly carbs, rice, and beans then check with your Human Services office or whomever serves you locally in regards to your stamps. You might be getting less than you should because of an error on your paperwork or if you haven't updated your income recently to report any changes.

There are ways to eat well and healthily on stamps, it just takes a little bit of time and budgeting.

BTW...some clauses in the revamped SNAP policy allow you to get an increase above what you recieve already if you're a student, have over a certain amount of necessary bills such as medical or heating.

Also, if you're a renter inquire about LIEAP, the low income energy assistance program/plan. The name might vary in your state so you might have to Googlefu. LIEAP takes in to consideration your income, out of pocket expenses such as bills and and medical, etc. then helps to pay for heating costs during the winter. Section 8 does the same configuration to help pay partially on rent to those who qualify.

There are lots of resources out there that the gov't offers. Problem is it's hard to get all that information and not all agents are very helpful or want to take the time to tell people about them.

That's what I'm trying to do on my blog, but it's taking longer than I thought to set up.

lost clown said...

Please let me know when you get your blog up. That info is useful to many people and I would love to help spread the word (and get some of the info myself).

I've gotten the LIEAP for the past several years, but around here they do it as a one off-you get help for basically one month. I've sat on the phone to get an appointment calling and recalling first thing Saturday morning (and I need to find out what Saturday it is this year-it's in January) to get an appointment.

I never tried to talk to anyone, because I figured that since I was on a fixed income (SSI-D) they knew exactly how much money I have coming in each month.

It takes too many spoons to deal with them when I don't know what I can ask for or should ask for. *sigh*

Thanks for all the ideas. I will look into them. I will definitely ask around.

Ann said...

It's semi-up. I have a number of links under the tab and some PDF file links to nutrition stuff.

I'll be working more on it the next few days as our stamps come in on the third.

My husband also gets SSDI so his layoff isn't hurting us as much as it normally would, thank God, until one of us or both of us manages to find work.

I would make sure they know your SSDI just to be safe because they don't always share info between departments. My husband forgot to update his info with them a few months ago and when he did our stamps went from 83$ a month to about 150$. Quite a jump for us since I usually had some left over on the original number.

Brenda said...

I know the frustration of not having any food and going to bed hungry. I am a 40 something female. Recently graduated school. I have over 40 resumes out in my city and in past months I had to live off of a little less than 200.00 a week and thats with a part time job and unemployment. I live in a hotel with mice and roaches. I was not brought up to live this way just had a little of that hard time wave that hits people sometimes. I went to apply for some food stamps, that was over two months ago I have not received a reply to this date. I even applied to HUD for housing around the same time I am still living here. I am hungry most of the time , most of my money goes into the rent. I feel this is the begining of homelessness. There are people out there with brand new vehicles and having multiple children that the goverment gladly pay the bills for and they receive stamps. All I want is a little food stamps to help get me back on my feet and thats something I can't seem to make happen. It brings me to tears sometimes. However, I am thankful to be here and able to continue to look for better work, a better life and to see another healthy day. All you guys hungry and struggling keep your heads up. This is a new year and it's going to change for us.

Hopful Brenda