2 years ago
drwhat
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Can You Survive on Just Food Stamps?
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.
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I'm from Michigan @shannonl5. Everyone in my area aceept EBT cards...corner stores, Wlamart, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, Meijer, Save a lot, even fast food places like lil Cesar and whole food stores like Dales. I guess it depends on your location like you said @shannonl5 that was a valid point. However, the city I live in is predominantly living in poverty so there was a high demand for EBT use. Even the dollar store and family dollars accept EBT! I wish they had regular people do this EBT challenge or follow a real family or single household person to see how they manage when living with an EBT card.
@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
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)
@JPBenedetto it's good to know there's someone sympathetic who is currently working for change! You're right- access is a HUGE part of the problem. And sure, some people don't know how to cook... so where are the programs that teach them? I know some used to be done through the local library, but there's not a lot of funding for things like that. And while the internet can be a great resource, not everyone can afford to have a computer at home, not everyone is computer literate, and those should not be requirements for a healthy life! It's really not an issue of people not wanting to be healthy- again, you're totally right- it's about people not having the ability to make those kinds of choices.
@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.