3 years ago1,000+ Views
When talking about whether or not it's true that Americans are eating healthier with @shannonl5 and @amobigbang, I remembered about an "experiment" done around springtime about food stamps and if it is possible to eat healthy on a food stamps budget.
I don't know if you've heard of it before, so allow me to introduce it briefly.
Gwyneth Paltrow was challenged by The Food Bank for New York City's to go shopping for and live on a $29 week grocery budget similar to what those who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs) live on.
Above is the picture of what she purchased. While I'm sure she meant well by participating, no one could find it not ridiculous that she purchased 7 limes, an avocado and cilantro.
Still, many people were forgetting that many food benefits are not used as the sole provider of food for those who receive it, but rather, as a supplement. Still, her statement did not go over well.

This incident led many people to challenge the idea of "Can people really survive on a food stamp budget?"

Considering the conversation we were having, I thought you guys might like to read a few of the articles I found about it.
- It points out that she actually did buy enough calories to support someone who lives her lifestyle (about 1,000 per day) but wouldn't be sustainable for someone who lives and works a more physical life.
- Gives a great example of what someone COULD actually buy for $29 a week and get by on 2530 calories a day.
- Addresses the fact that accomplishing this task because even more difficult if you live in a food desert, and are thus forced to buy food from convenience stores and fast food locations.
- Reminds us that "the bulk of what can be bought with food assistance is brown. In other words, it鈥檚 heavy on carbs and low on nutrition."
- Makes a point about how he was able to dot his because it was only for a two week period, and he didn't think he could survive that way.
- Acknowledges that it's not simply more money that people need, but great access to foods that are healthy and filling, not just highly processed, cheap foods that ultimately do people little good.
Anyways, those are just some things I thought were interesting. Obviously, it is possible as millions do survive with nutrition supplement money, but it isn't easy, and it is even less easy to be healthy while doing so. More healthy means less calories, and for many people, that's just not an option.
Thr worst part about the SNAP program is that although we are once again having this conversation on a national level, the program continues to be cut through changes to the Farm Bill - which expired and was recently rewritten. Unfortunately, the voices of those who are dependent on ebt were not heard...no surprise (sigh). As a professional who works in MassCare Feeding Operations and food sustainability programs (nonprofit) I continue to witness the lack of ACCESS to whole, nutritious foods that families could afford and make use of, if available. The BIGGEST crime here is that we still stigmatize our poverty-stricken. We assume that they don't KNOW HOW to feed their families...therefore we think they don't know how shortchanged they are by a program(s) that currently limits ACCESS and opportunity. We have more than enough food, per capita, per acre of landmass to feed EVERYONE if only we didn't live in a country where to the rich go the spoils. PS - I was once a professional firefighter, single mother making approx. 12$/hour. I lived the struggle long before attending culinary school & becoming an advocate for social and political change in our food programs....(sigh) (LOVE this post, btw - and everyone's passionate responses!!馃榿)
Thank you for tagging me in this! I used to manage a restaurant and so many of my employees were on EBT because they couldn't afford food... and in the meantime we were a really high priced restaurant. I know in NYC it can be really tough because we have the subway and there are lots of grocery stores everywhere... but it's a huge problem when you're relying on getting groceries in one part of town and then dragging them to your home over an hour away on the train. Food can co bad in that amount of time! But in lots of neighborhoods (again, in the city!) where there are only delis, no big stores. The closest place to me that's big is Target. EBT really is just a supplement, but so many families rely on it and in fact could use more help. (I feel like I'm rambling a bit- I apologize, I get very upset over this issue). Corey Booker actually did the challenge as well (he's a NJ politician) and tweeted the experience. He came out of it saying he was really hungry all the time, that he struggled to find EBT eligible food because he already had a restricted diet for health reasons, and that he spent significantly more time per day worrying about what to eat. @amogbigbang I think you have nothing to be ashamed for, you used the program, that's what it's there for. And yeah, without the extra support there's definitely an incentive to stick to basics
@drwhat thanks for the tag. I'm not ashamed to admit it I once received an EBT card for a short period of time. I was more inclined to buy healthier goods....like salad mix, fresh fruits, fresh veggies, ground turkey meat, green teas, etc. Now, that I have to pay for my own food I'm not that adventurous since food is expensive. I just stay with the basics.
@shannonl5 No worries about getting worked up about it. It's good to feel some passion for change in things like this. Thoroughly enjoying reading all the responses. @JPBenedetto I really, really hate how these changes in food assistance programs just get slipped through. What's worse is, like you said, the idea that people don't know how to feed themselves just because they cannot afford to. I recently overheard a woman in the grocery store talking about how she saw a woman "probably on food stamps" loading up on soda, and advocating that we shouldn't allow that kind of food to be purchased with them. While she has an idea and a point about healthy foods, it's not fair to say that we should limit access to food (even if its not the "best" food) even more in an effort to FEED people. How would that make sense? It's confusing and frustrating to try to understand. @amobigbang Thanks for sharing your experience. Like I said, I haven't personally used food stamps, but close family has lived for many years with supplements, and while they really struggled with it at first, they were lucky enough to live in an area that had stores that were both affordable and stores that took EBT for things they actually could use and survive healthily on. But not every one is that lucky.
@amobigbang that makes a lot of sense, I imagine it's way harder when you have kids because they can be so picky and they also need to eat a lot! Public schools here provide meals and there are programs that give kids food during the summer as well so that helps, but the school meals aren't guaranteed to be nutritious. I think a lot of the people who design EBT don't actually have to live on it, I think the system would be a lot better if the people who relied on it had more say. Doing it for just one week give you perspective, but it's not the same as being forced to rely on it for a long time
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