Supermarket death panels: A look at why Food Stamps matter

Within the past year, several politicians (new Democratic Senator Cory Booker, Democratic Mayor-Elect of NYC Bill De Blasio, and several other members of the NYC Council) joined about twenty US Representatives, all Democrats, in attempting to live on the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Others tried to feed themselves on a daily basis just using Food Stamps (SNAP).  Food Stamp benefits come to about $133 per month (on average, each state is different, see chart below) for a single person, or $4.43 per day.  And I think it’s fair to say a lot of us would be hard pressed to spend only $4.43 per day on food.

Celebrities like Ben Affleck, Mario Batale and Ron Shaich (CEO of Panera Bread) all tried to live on about $4.50 per day as a food budget.

Panera’s Shaich, for example, said he’s worked with hungry people who were eating in soup kitchens. So he thought that he had a good idea about what it was like. He was very wrong. Here are his thoughts after trying to eat on $4.50 a day (emphasis mine):

But let me tell you something – I had no clue. My SNAP Challenge last week taught me that merely observing someone else’s plight does not hold a candle to consciously altering your habits to better understand what it might be like to live someone else’s life.
. . . .
I was hungry last week – laser-focused on how much food was left in the fridge and how many dollars were left in my wallet. I was scared about eating portions that were too big, and wasn’t sure what to do if my food ran out. I canceled two scheduled dinners, knowing they were way beyond my budget. I couldn’t even eat in Panera, my own restaurant.

Shaich has more here:

Fruits and vegetables via Shutterstock

Fruits and vegetables via Shutterstock

My approach to grocery shopping was to try to stay full. That meant carbohydrates. In retrospect, it was a poor choice. I ended up with a diet largely based around pasta, lentils, chickpeas and cereal. While it wasn’t a ton of food, I could mix and match for various meals and find myself not quite full — but enough to get by. Breakfast and snacks were Toasted Oats. Lunch and dinner varied between chickpea, jalapeno and tomato soup, lentil casserole and pasta with tomato sauce and garlic. Fresh fruit, vegetables and yogurt were too expensive.

End of stimulus will cost Food Stamp recipients another 2 days of food per month

And that was before the stimulus money ran out.  The stimulus included money for Food Stamps.  The end of that money means the average benefit will go down by about $10 per person per month, or to put it in simpler terms, that’s another two days of food gone per month.

And this was before the House Republicans demanded further cuts in Food Stamp benefits totalling $39 billion.  It’s estimated that many people will lose benefits entirely.

Now, a ten dollar or more decrease may not seem like much (it often doesn’t when it doesn’t affect us), but this is a cut to someone already struggling to live on a $133/month food budget. Granny, who is too old and ill to hold down a job at 80 years old, may be depending on Food Stamps to eat. She may need her Social Security for things like rent, utilities, transportation, disposable goods, Medicare co-pays and other expenses.

Or the veteran who has PTSD and is dependent upon Food Stamps, and other social services to survive, now his food budget was trimmed.  One analysis suggests 170,000 veterans may lost Food Stamps if the GOP budget cuts go through.

Or the single mom working two part-time jobs struggling to make it with her two kids. Her benefits trimmed accordingly.

The lady with the partially disabled husband who needs to stay home to help care for him. What happens when that $10 disappears?

Of course, to some extent it depends on where you live and what food prices are there. But let’s say that that $10 can buy, 3 loaves of bread, 3 dozen eggs and a gallon of milk. That may be Granny’s (or the Vet’s) breakfast for most of the month. And even if it doesn’t mean that she’ll go hungry, she may have to try to use money from somewhere else to make up the difference. Money that needs to stay where it is – going to pay for heat, rent, transportation or something else that is vital.


Now take a look at this scenario. We’re encouraged to eat more healthful foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, foods low in cholesterol saturated and trans fats. Of course, most fresh fruits and vegetables are pricey. But lettuce, cabbage and carrots are relatively cheap, so the Food Stamp recipient could get a lot of those, and maybe some cheap lemon juice to use as a salad dressing. This may help to fill him up, temporarily, but lettuce is about 97% water and has very limited nutritive value. There’s very little protein in this kind of diet.

If he supplements the diet with carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc.) he’ll get some additional calories, but still be protein-deficient. Protein from lean meats? No, that’s too expensive. He might be able to get some chicken thighs, at about $1.99 pound. So one pound of chicken thighs, less the bones, would probably give him about 1/3 of the protein he needs per day. But the cost would be almost 50% of his food budget for that day.

Two eggs might help a little, unfortunately, he can’t afford that now that he’s lost $10 a month — or two days worth of food – from his Food Stamps. And he doesn’t have as much milk, as that was one of the items he lost, thanks to congressional budget-trimming. And consider the fact that eating those vegetables and chicken thighs, and some pasta, will leave him not only protein-deficient, but vitamin and mineral deficient, as well. And, even if his Food Stamps hadn’t been cut, he couldn’t buy a multi-vitamin, that’s not covered on Food Stamps, and may not be covered under Medicaid, or private insurance, either.

Imagine every month being a struggle to buy a vitamin?

The above cases reflect people who can eat a normal diet – meaning, for example, people who don’t have allergies. But what about those who can’t, or shouldn’t, eat a “normal” diet? Diabetics who need to watch carbohydrate intake? People who are gluten-intolerant and need to avoid wheat products, among other things? Those who have severe food allergies, like to peanuts? Those with elevated cholesterol who need to eat foods low in cholesterol? People who are lactose intolerant? Those people are in even more of a bind. They have fewer food choices available to them. And the ones that are available may be more expensive than they can afford.

Average Food Stamp benefit is already quite small

Take a look at what the average Food Stamp recipient gets per month, per state.  And keep in mind, these figures were before the stimulus money ran out, and before the Republicans’ proposed additional $39 billion cut, via the USDA:

Average monthly Food Stamp benefit per month, per state.

Average monthly Food Stamp benefit per month, per state. (Source: USDA)

The upshot of all of this?

  • People on Food Stamps may be chronically hungry, vitamin and mineral deficient and verging on malnourished.
  • They may have a low calcium intake, be more prone to osteopenia or osteoporosis and develop fractures more easily, increasing Medicaid or other health insurance costs for treatment. (And of course, people with lower incomes tend to be people who also get less quality health care.)
  • People who are vitamin deficient usually don’t heal as well after an injury or surgical procedure.
  • Diabetics on SNAP can have more trouble regulating glucose levels.
  • Some people will carbo-load because carbohydrates are generally cheaper, and fill you up, and thus they risk becoming obese in spite of not being adequately nourished.
  • People with cardiovascular disease would find themselves eating more high cholesterol foods (because they’re cheaper – you can’t beat the cost of a McDonald’s hamburger) and increasing their risks for having heart attacks.

Any of these can increase the number of trips to the doctor or emergency room, and drive up the cost of health care for everyone.

And what about the Food Stamp recipients’ quality of life? Constantly worrying about his next meal, being hungry, hoping that the local food bank may have some food available, looking for any kind of work for supplemental income. Of course, if he does get a job and his income goes up just a little too much, then he loses Food Stamps and possibly his Medicaid and other support services (though thankfully, with the Affordable Care Act, there’s now additional subsidized insurance that the working-poor can get and afford).

He’s caught in a no-win situation. And it’s not just “him” (or her), it’s millions of others like him: the unemployed, elderly, sick, disabled, Veterans who need some kind of assistance to just be able to eat. That assistance has now been limited even more.

And that’s not even considering additional cuts proposed in the near future to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

Death Panels?  No, Sarah, we don’t need Death Panels.  For a lot of America’s poor and working poor, the death panel decisions take place every day the moment they enter the supermarket.

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

Mark Thoma, MD, is a physician who did his residency in internal medicine. Mark has a long history of social activism, and was an early technogeek, and science junkie, after evolving through his nerd phase. Favorite quote: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny.'” - Isaac Asimov

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50 Responses to “Supermarket death panels: A look at why Food Stamps matter”

  1. D.B says:

    We get 80 cents per person per meal. We eat oatmeal for breakfast, skip lunch and eat dinner. Usually dinner is something cheap. I know we are operating at a deficiency. I am losing weight rapidly. I can’t imagine how children grow. I supplement our food with a garden, things I wild craft, and soon animals I hunt. If I can get better at those three we may never need foodstamps again, which would be great because we wouldn’t be hungry and could have lunch.

  2. Jim Olson says:

    Basic Christian values: Love God, with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. Care for the widow, the poor, the orphan and the stranger. All Scriptural. I can provide citations if you wish. These are not bad for the living. Belief in God or the divine or a higher power is certainly not necessary to act in these ways, but we are taught to do these things as a matter of course. Of course, some, *ahem* “Christian” politicians have either forgotten these lessons, or never learned them. Biblical illiteracy and human arrogance will do that to you.

  3. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You sound like a fellow vegan. Protein should really be adjusted for the person’s size. Legumes can handle that.

    “unprocessed carbs (potatoes, rice, grains) do NOT make you fat”

    Well, in someways it’s a matter of calories in and calories out and make that rice brown. I do agree that all carbs should be unprocessed. The body does require some fats. It’s very little fat, but you require it for mental functioning.

  4. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I can do it with $49 dollars!

  5. Andrew Zimmerman says:

    I can live off of 50$ a month for food, what’s this bs about foodstamps not paying enough?
    Fucking whiners..

  6. zorbear says:

    Actually it’s extremely easy to make and the difference between the taste of fresh (made that day) tofu and the stuff from the market is the same as between a great Chocolate Mousse and chewing on a carob bean…

  7. karmanot says:

    You have a long troll history sister. Move along and drop your BS somewhere else.

  8. karmanot says:

    ((hug)) “my primary charitable cause is the local food bank.” Same here….

  9. karmanot says:

    Isn’t that special.

  10. karmanot says:


  11. goodhealth says:

    While I appreciate your activism and the thrust of your argument that food stamp benefits are inadequate. Your nutritional claims are false. Protein requirements are only 10 gm per day, unprocessed carbs (potatoes, rice, grains) do NOT make you fat, they are the correct food to satisfy hunger and combined with fruit and veg make a complete diet. Dairy, animal products, processed foods and isolated fats/oils are contrary to good health. You need to update your nutritional training.

  12. sane37 says:

    Can we do away with the meme that Christian values are good for the living?

  13. Monoceros Forth says:

    Is it easy to make? I thought you had to, like, precipitate the soy proteins with slaked lime or something else like that.

    Anyway, my point was that for a quite reasonable price you get what’s basically a block of protein that you can just slice up and use without having to worry about trimming fat or removing bones. Beans are a cheaper source of protein, I don’t doubt, but it takes work to cook beans properly.

  14. docsterx says:

    That may help in some circumstances. But consider those in transient hotels, shelters, one room apartments who have no cooking facilities, much less a refrigerator to store food. Or those who live alone and can’t manage cooking. They need to subsist out of cans or buy precooked foods at several times the cost of raw meat. Then the chicken idea loses much of its merit.

    Protein requirements are based on the individual’s weight. A heavier person needs more protein and many SNAP recipients are obese. The average amount of protein required for a 150 pound person per day is equivalent to two chicken breasts and about 7-8 ounces of lean beef per day. So the single whole chicken, wouldn’t go as far as you imply. As I mention above, the pound of chicken thighs @ 1.99/pound, wouldn’t come close to meeting a single day’s protein requirement.

  15. docsterx says:

    This topic is focused on Food Stamps (SNAP) in America and the inherent difficulties there. We should not be a “food-insecure” country especially when we have huge amounts (i.e. trillions) to spend on unwanted military hardware, givebacks and tax breaks to big business, unequal taxation rates and other unnecessary forms of spending.

  16. docsterx says:

    Yes, I’d like to hear what your diet consists of. Can you eat the recommended amounts of protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates? Do you get adequate vitamins and minerals? Are you maintaining your weight? Are you (or have you become obese) since you started eating that way? DO you have any medical problems? Do you feel hungry at times? Ever eun out of food before the next paycheck? Thanks.

  17. docsterx says:

    “living on the average benefit assumes that that is the ONLY money they have for food.” It may well be. I wrote that there may be additional income, but often that money is already “spent” for needs like rent, copays, heat, other utilities, transportation, things not covered by SNAP (toilet paper, soap, cleaning products, light bulbs, laundry products, vitamins, etc.). Your assumption is that for most on Food Stamps they have “enough” available from somewhere else to add to their food stamps to supplement it. That’s an assumption that you, and the Republicans, make that is very often not true. Many of these people need help from food banks and food banks are in short supply as are their goods. Some may be able to get some help from their families, but that’s not a given, either. And what about the disabled, elderly, or children who can’t work, are living alone, without a social support network who have no one to help with food. You make some assumptions that may hold for a few, but fail to apply to the many and then act as if those assumptions are true. No, you are quite mistaken.

  18. zorbear says:

    It’s really cheap and easy to make, as well…

  19. Fentwin says:

    “Nobody spends $6 a pound on chicken.”

    I was just pointing out that someone considers that a reasonable price for chicken, of course that someone is the manufacturer .

  20. mmunson says:

    We need to cut farm subsidies for the mega rich to help pay for food stamps.

  21. Monoceros Forth says:

    Well, tofu’s cheaper by the pound than even the crummiest meat, is what I was getting at, and there’s no waste. (And freezing improves it!) I’m spoiled perhaps by living in Seattle where the stuff can be found in any large supermarket.

  22. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    It is assumed that they make enough to pay for some of their food? Who is assuming that and why? On what do they base that assumption? I assume I look like George Clooney, but that’s not reality. How do they know what is the composition of their families? What is the number of children? There are many reason that they may have large families. Just ask Rick Santorum. What are the ages of the children? They’re probably wasting their money on things like rent, utilities, medical bills, clothing, child care, or public transportation. A working mother on minimum wage can’t really cover those things. She may be able to go to food shelves for help, but they’re having a hard time maintaining. Many people living on subsistence wages also live in nutritional deserts. They either will need to pay exorbitant prices for food or find some method of getting out to the suburbs and return with bags of groceries. Try that on public transportation especially when there are a couple of transfers.

    For a short time, I worked as a social worker in the inner city. There are reasons that diabetes is such a scourge there. Yes, there are sometimes genetic tendencies toward diabetes, however diabetes can be extremely damaging in the inner city. I’ve been diabetic since I was eleven, and my body has much less damage than inner city residents may have after just one decade. Those that live on such small allowances for food have diets very high in carbohydrates and fat. That is poison for a diabetic. A loss of a limb can make everything much more difficult if not impossible. Loss of vision isn’t going to help much either. Can you possibly comprehend what the need for dialysis can do to an inner city family?

  23. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Well, let’s hear what you eat. I’m vegan, and I actually think that drives my grocery bills up. What are your sources of protein? What are your sources of fiber? What are your sources of calcium? I assume you don’t live in a nutritional desert or do you? What is your daily intake of carbohydrates?

  24. sisterfunkhaus says:

    10 percent of calories NEED to be from protein. A whole cooked chicken can go far. Your casserole, plus chicken salad for sandwiches with the breasts, and the bones for stock for lentil soup is a cheap way to stretch a chicken.

  25. sisterfunkhaus says:

    Basic sustenance is so much more than many in the world get. People in certain food insecure countries would do anything for beans and peanut butter.

  26. sisterfunkhaus says:

    Living on the average benefit assumes that that is the only money they have for food. When someone is getting that benefit is assumed to make enough to pay for some of their own food. That amount plus their benefit should add up to the maximum possible benefit for their family size. It’s manipulative to write for a point that their benefit is all they have for food. If that is all they have for food, then according to te government, they re spending too much in another area. It would be more genuine and honest life off the maximum benefits offered for your family size.

  27. guest2 says:

    I spend less than $5 a day for food, hardly buy meat besides hamburger,

  28. Tatts says:

    Nobody spends $6 a pound on chicken. Except organic an Whole Foods, maybe. I can buy a whole, cooked rotisserie chicken at the three supermarkets closest to me in center city Philadelphia for $6.99, every day.

    I roast my own whole or make chicken and olives with legs and thighs–yum. And I know that the chicken doesn’t cost much more than $1.29 a pound.

    And Dr. Thoma is dead wrong in his statement that “…one pound of chicken thighs, less the bones, would probably give him about 1/3 of the protein he needs per day.” That’s crazy! Nobody eats 3 ponds of chicken (or any meat) per day! One medium chicken breast contains all the protein an adult male needs in a day (50-60 grams). That’s 1/2 pound. I understand that dark mean has less protein, but, come on. Two thighs would nearly meet the entire requirement.

  29. Naja pallida says:

    Maybe, but not entirely applicable as I wasn’t in the US at the time. Though, recession and job loss resulting in a need for a social safety net is a universal issue. Hunger and nutrition are also common problems no matter where you go.

  30. nicho says:

    Of course, chicken is expensive. Arsenic doesn’t grow on trees. And what is chicken without a little arsenic?

  31. MyrddinWilt says:

    We can probably avoid cutting food stamps at zero net cost by raising the minimum wage to $10.

    I haven’t done the math but I find it utterly disgusting that parasites like the Walton family are able to avoid paying a fair wage and then get the government to make up the difference.

    Here is a thought: Nobody who is working a full time job should need food stamps or other government subsidies for personal basic necessities. A family of four with two parents on minimum wage should be able to raise two children without government subsidies.

    On top of that, bill any employer with over 5,000 US employees for the cost of providing food stamps using a scale based on the number of employees at each given wage level. So the corporate spongers like WalMart end up paying back the hidden cost of their business that they load onto taxpayers.

    Some jobs might be shipped overseas but the fact is that most jobs that can be done at lower cost abroad went a long time ago. McDonalds franchisees can’t outsource to India.

  32. emjayay says:

    The tawdry way they make the calculations to reduce the SNAP grants down from the max really suck.

  33. emjayay says:

    Yeah, that Cantor staffer thing was disgusting.

  34. emjayay says:

    I’ve been buying exclusively whole chickens, and boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.99 a pound or less in cities and towns I’ve lived in various places in the US for twenty years including Brooklyn today. I know, it’s grown in the worst factory farming conditions.

  35. Jim Olson says:

    Billions for new aircraft carriers, and for planes and tanks that the military doesn’t even want. No money for food. Can we please be done with the meme that the Republicans are the defenders of traditional Christian values?

  36. emjayay says:

    Yes. Full employment however it can be accomplished and a minimum wage equal at least to what it was in 1968, which would be about $11 an hour, are absolutely what is needed. Using every one of hundreds of short and long term ways to direct national income somewhere other than the already rich would be a lot of how to get there.

  37. That would be a fascinating post.

  38. Chef Kowalski says:

    Wal-Mart claims that they are the place where new workers get their start before going on to better and more responsible jobs. Yet you hear of people who rely on Wal-Mart as their employer because no other jobs are available. I’m sure the “greeter” at the last Wal-Mart I visited (setting up a Toys For Tots depository) could have used a better salary judging from the rotten teeth in her mouth and being unable to afford a visit to the dentist (hopefully not Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona who after voting to continue the shutdown is being referred by some constituents as Dentist the Menace). A recent Wal-Mart ad bragged that a 10-year employee promoted to a store manager was earning a whopping $31,000 while a friend who used to work at a Radio Flyer factory started at that salary and was earning more before Wal-Mart pressured the company to move its production to China. I certainly hope the Wal-Mart executives forget their asbestos underwear when they arrive in the afterlife.

  39. cole3244 says:

    its very apparent that the rw gop cons are not the only enemy to the average citizen, not all but most in wash are elites that could care less for the 99% and their actions point this out very clearly.

  40. ComradeRutherford says:

    According to the GOP, Food Stamps is too generous. This is their justification for demanding that $40B be cut from the program.

  41. The_Fixer says:

    Thanks for a comprehensive summary of what low-income people have to go through to eat… not-so-well.

    There are often additional complications for those who have had major life-altering events. Like if someone is relegated to living in a residence hotel with little or no cooking facilities (I was once – it wasn’t fun). This drives up one’s cost per meal because often a person has to buy more costly prepared food that is not nutritionally sound. I can vouch for the fact that this takes a long-term toll on a person’s health.

    While the best solutions to these problems are more and better-paying jobs, we have to look at the programs that are meant to mitigate the suffering of people who haven’t got those jobs – or may not be able to get them for a variety of reasons.

    This current situation disgusts me. We have people who have far more money than they ever will need telling everyone else to make do with less. I wonder when having a conscience will again become fashionable?

  42. Fentwin says:

    “Even chicken is too expensive.”

    I’ve seen it get close to six dollars a pound here in NC. Six dollars a pound for effin’ chicken.

    They aren’t an endangered species, they aren’t all that dangerous to catch. I could see shark meat being expensive, sharks are, relative to chickens, fairly “rare” and definitely dangerous to handle.

    Food should be a non-profit endeavor (how feasible that is I have not a clue, but thats what my gut tells me)

  43. Naja pallida says:

    Tofu would have been a specialty item, only available at the Asian market, where I was… and would likely have been too expensive to contemplate. Even now, bargain tofu is still over a dollar a pound. It packs a lot of protein per serving though, but doesn’t keep for very long unless you freeze it. Not sure it would be a viable alternative when beans are so cheap. Maybe something for a little variety, because you sure get sick of eating the same things day in and day out when that’s all you can afford.

  44. Naja pallida says:

    A good percentage of the people on food, housing, medical, and other social assistance programs work. Low wage employers have happily taken advantage of it. Wal-Mart alone has their employee’s salaries subsidized with food stamps and Medicaid, to the tune of around 90 million dollars a year, because they refuse to pay a living wage. That’s 90 million that wouldn’t even put a dent in Wal-Mart’s 16 billion dollar profit margin, but yet they are fighting tooth and nail to not have to pay it. While also supporting those politicians who want to take away the government assistance to their employees. Insane doesn’t even begin to touch this situation.

  45. says:

    I was disabled and had to go on food stamps around 10 years ago and lived like that for over 2 years. My disability check was under $900 and my house payment was $500 and they still only gave me $30 a month in food stamps. I look back now and wonder how I made it.

  46. Monoceros Forth says:

    Tofu isn’t too bad as a relatively cheap source of protein, although you’re still left with the problem of having to eat tofu. Beans are better since they keep for centuries. Also, I’ve learned from sad experience, they’re a common food bank item. I learned how to make my own bean burger patties largely from food-bank beans.

    It’s incredible how high the price even of budget foodstuffs has gone up. My mate semi-seriously blames cooking shows for making things like pot roast trendy, so that even the lowest quality cuts of beef are too expensive to contemplate.

  47. Bill_Perdue says:

    Good summary.

    The attack on the standard of living of working people by both parties is criminal.

    Their union busting, their cuts in welfare, unemployment, food stamps, medical care and other social programs are directly and solely responsible for deaths by illness, malnutrition, suicides by those unable to cope with sudden, devastating poverty and homelessness, death by stress and by accidents caused by speed ups, unsafe working conditions and being forced to work two or more low paying, no benefit jobs just to subsist.

    And now Obama and the leadership of both parties are circling around trying to outflank one another in the next round of austerity early in 2014.

  48. Naja pallida says:

    I had about a year of my life where everything kinda went to shit on me, and I found myself having to resort to food assistance. You learn very quickly to manage your money right down to the penny, because anything not accounted for could mean a night going to sleep hungry.

    Sorry, but you don’t buy meat. Even chicken is too expensive. The only protein you get comes from things like peanut butter and beans. Lots and lots of beans. Once a month or so I would splurge and buy a package of ground pork, which at that time was about half the price of ground beef – before it became more of a fad, and the price went way up. Things like fresh produce weren’t even an option. No matter how much I scrimped, or how many meals I skipped, I always ended up finding myself at the food bank to make up the last week or so of the month. Where they’d give me a loaf of expired bread, a box of random canned goods, some pasta, and maybe some other random expired stuff, like crackers or cookies, that were still edible. Sometimes they’d have milk and/or butter, but generally not. As they depend entirely on donations, and dairy products are rarely donated simply because of their short shelf-life.

    It’s a miserable way to live, and nobody should have to in a civilized nation. You never get to pick stuff you like, you eat for subsistence. You skip meals hoping you can stretch the dollar just that much further. You constantly feel tired, miserable, worthless and depressed. My experience and the people who helped me are probably the reason why my primary charitable cause is the local food bank.

  49. ArthurH says:

    Amen to that, Dr. Thoma. Having volunteered to work at a church food pantry, I too was challenged to live on a food budget of $4.50 a day for a week. What amazed me was that after completing my “meals” was how hungry I remained. Early this year, some members of the staffs of a few House Republicans tried the “Food Stamp” diet, but few took it seriously. An aide to Rep. Eric Cantor spent his $4.50 on candy, snacks and soda, saying that was what Food Stamp recipients spent it on. The poor people who visit my food pantry say they never touch the stuff the aide purchased. Can’t afford them. A favorite foodstuff they buy are those 25 cent packets of instant ramen noodle soup. The GOP want to cut Food Stamps because they claim the poor have too much comfort. But again visitors to my food pantry often have jobs, but with irregular part-time hours that don’t pay enough to cover all expenses. At least the GOP aren’t citing the Bible for their heartless decisions any more. Members like Tennessee’s Rep. Fischer now say the Bible doesn’t cover government and thus they are not required to heed the New Testament’s requirement that we help those in dire straits.

  50. emjayay says:

    The average SNAP benefit is not the maximum benefit. The maximum is around $190 after the recent end of the recession bonus. It is discounted for each individual based on income and rent etc. Maybe it’s way too cheap, but the idea is that it’s a sliding scale based on ability to pay for food.

    Buying all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables including some organics and chicken and fish and milk and organic free range eggs and multigrain bread etc., I spend around $100 a month for one physically active 170 lb adult. In Brooklyn. I’m sure of the amount because it’s all on one credit card.

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