Author Topic: Food Stamp Challenge  (Read 4010 times)

phildonnia

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Food Stamp Challenge
« on: January 04, 2019, 11:32:05 AM »
Has anyone here ever attempted the ďfood-stamp challengeĒ or similar?

The ďchallengeĒ is to go one week, spending less than $4.15 per person per day on food. 

The intent is that you're supposed to realize that it sucks to be poor and a thus certain federal bureaucracy should get more funding.  If you read personal stories on the internet, they seem to fall into two groups:

1) congresspersons, activists, reporters and Gwyneth Paltrow, who end up eating two tortillas for dinner and quit when they canít go on.

2) People who eat healthy and well, and canít figure out what the big deal is; these are often written with a tone of badassity that mustachians would respect.

Since I actually have records of my own spending going back ten years, I was able to calculate that I have been successfully doing the food-stamp challenge for an entire decade.  Judging by the posts here:  many other mustachians may living in abject poverty without even knowing it. 

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2019, 11:54:57 AM »
How could $4.15 be a challenge?
I was on food stamps during grad school.  Even though I was only eligible for my child and not myself, we were able to eat quite well by only spending one half of the benefit and that felt luxurious.  Before signing up for food stamps, it was hard to afford luxuries like lettuce or oranges.  We ate much better on food stamps than we had been before.  Now I am little by little using up the surplus, even though I don't get any new money.  It felt really good to go to the social services office and ask them to discontinue my food stamps because I was going to be making too much money.

BrightFIRE

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2019, 03:04:29 PM »
The challenge is usually for a month - a week wouldn't be much of a challenge! I think your $4.15 is coming from CBPP.org: "The average SNAP benefit per person was about $126 per month, which works out to about $1.40 per person per meal." But I believe you are supposed to calculate what your SNAP benefit would be and use that as your guide - more realistic, not the same number for everyone.

Budget Bytes used to do it annually, but in my opinion she relied too much on carbs. She hasn't done it in a few years, but if you're interested in her recipes, they are still in her archives.
https://www.budgetbytes.com/category/extra-bytes/snap-challenge/

I was pleased to calculate our average for 2017 and see that we came in at $294/mo for a 2 person household. In 2018 we increased our grocery spend when our dining out spend dropped, and I got into canning and spent a bunch on fresh fruit. We still only spent $348/month in a HCOL area. I'm going to try to get it back under $300 this year.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 03:06:17 PM by BrightFIRE »

Basenji

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2019, 03:16:13 PM »
See https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/have-a-sub-$200month-grocery-budget/.

Quote
Kind of like a SNAP challenge, except... the SNAP challenge isn't a very hard challenge, and this thread is about how we ace it every month by miles.

meatgrinder

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2019, 03:21:29 PM »
Burger king has 10 chicken nuggets for $1!!!!!

singpolyma

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2019, 04:50:00 PM »
I would have to increase my food spending to do this...

terran

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2019, 05:43:09 PM »
Looks like that's just about our average for the last year ($2958.68/52 = $56.90/week) for 2 people, so I guess I fall into the "what's the big deal?" camp. That doesn't include eating at restaurants (minimal) or eating while traveling (call it 4 weeks, so new weekly total $2958.68/48 = $61.64/week), but we also aren't really careful at all. I'm sure we could eat cheaper and remain relatively healthy.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2019, 06:26:52 PM »
Note that the SNAP acronym expands to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It truly is supposed to be a supplemental program in the sense that families with an income are assumed to be spending a certain fraction of this income on food. The SNAP benefits will be enough to allow the family to afford the USDA's "Thrifty Food Plan" between their own funds and the SNAP benefits combined. Therefore there is no expectation on the government's part that someone getting the "average" benefit will be paying for food from their SNAP benefits alone. See this article for more information about how the program works.

Instead of looking at the average benefit I think it's more useful to look at the maximum benefit, given to people with no other income. This amount is $192/month for an individual and $642/month for a family of four. My own family was well under this amount for the entirety of last year, even purchasing plenty of foods that we would not have bought if we had a hard ceiling on our spending.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 06:30:35 PM by seattlecyclone »

APowers

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2019, 08:06:00 PM »
I see @Basenji already linked to my thread. I'm very solidly in the "challenge, pffft!" camp.

I've seen people on facebook talk about the SNAP challenge, and most of them are in the "Oh noes, it's so hard *whine*" camp. In fact, that's one of the reasons I did my thread in 2018-- so I'd have somewhere to direct those people to, since I couldn't find anyone anywhere who publicly tracked a successful low food budget without whinging about how it was so hard.

APowers

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2019, 08:25:25 PM »
The challenge is usually for a month - a week wouldn't be much of a challenge! I think your $4.15 is coming from CBPP.org: "The average SNAP benefit per person was about $126 per month, which works out to about $1.40 per person per meal." But I believe you are supposed to calculate what your SNAP benefit would be and use that as your guide - more realistic, not the same number for everyone.

I've always wondered-- with the SNAP challenge, are you supposed to start with any of the food in your pantry? Are you allowed to use your (previously bought) spices/condiments?

If I had to start from scratch-- a single week would actually be much harder than a whole month, and a month would be much harder than a whole year. For instance, if I start from zero, and only have a week, I only have ~$16 for that first day, and I have to feed four people breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. But if I don't even have salt or pepper, that's a huge portion of that first day's dollars that have to buy some staples that I need, but only need a single serving of (oil or butter for example-- they make a HUGE difference in whether or not the food is yummy or gross), but if I spend $3 on oil, then that drastically reduces what I have available for the actual foods themselves. The next day, I don't have to buy oil again (I still have 98% of a jug left), but I do have to buy flour, or pepper, or eggs, or milk, so that by the time the week ends, I'm only just getting through the hardest part-- stocking up on the little things that make everything delicious and edible.

But if I have a whole month, by the time I make it through the first week, I've set myself up for success with a "pantry" of spice and salt and oil and flour and rice that can stretch for multiple days' worth of meals.

El Jacinto

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2019, 03:30:46 AM »
Iím pretty sure a lot of people on this forum live on less than $4.15/day for food.

If my wife didnít have a say, my diet would be eggs for breakfast, and PB&J for the other two meals. That comes out to probably half of $4.15.

Villanelle

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2019, 03:58:24 AM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch. 

El Jacinto

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2019, 04:25:32 AM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

How much do you think PB&J & eggs cost?

Aldi prices here in TN:
Giant PB: $2.50
Jelly: $1.50
Bread: $0.90
Paper plates: $2.00
Plastic cups: $2.75
Plasticware: $4.30
Sandwich bags: $2.10
Milk: $2.40
Eggs: $0.80

After tax, thatís at least a weekís worth of food for under $25. You can add in some vegetables for $5 to keep it a bit healthier, but this is very doable.

Edit: nearly half of that is disposable eating utensils, so after a little buildup, you could get actual silverware, dishes, and dish soap and cut the budget further.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 04:31:06 AM by El Jacinto »

BicycleB

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2019, 05:07:59 AM »
@seattlecyclone, that's really interesting information. I didn't know that.

I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

^I strongly agree with this.

Someone on food stamps probably has a lot of problems that a Mustachian normally doesn't. As someone who rents rooms to people with modest incomes, and sometimes volunteers helping homeless people, I've known several people who used such benefits. Hell, one of my best friends was on them after he lost his work skills and before his brain cancer was diagnosed.

A food stamp recipient may not have the stability that we have. They may lose housing during their food stamp use, reducing their ability to store food and cook efficiently. They may have substandard housing that is vulnerable to theft, perhaps by untrustworthy roommates. (I myself have provided a counterweight to that a time or two by offering safe housing at low cost with no theft by roommates. But not everybody gets to live in my house forever). They may not have the mobility to shop routinely at multiple groceries, so the routine bargain hunting that APowers does so well may not be an option. Also, the recipient may have his/her own problems in functioning, as my friend did before his brain cancer was diagnosed.

For what it's worth, I am glad that it's reasonably easy for a stable person to afford good food using the food stamp budget. If it wasn't, the people who need the benefit wouldn't have enough money for food.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 05:10:37 AM by BicycleB »

Fi(re) on the Farm

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2019, 06:26:10 AM »
@seattlecyclone, that's really interesting information. I didn't know that.

I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

^I strongly agree with this.

Someone on food stamps probably has a lot of problems that a Mustachian normally doesn't. As someone who rents rooms to people with modest incomes, and sometimes volunteers helping homeless people, I've known several people who used such benefits. Hell, one of my best friends was on them after he lost his work skills and before his brain cancer was diagnosed.

A food stamp recipient may not have the stability that we have. They may lose housing during their food stamp use, reducing their ability to store food and cook efficiently. They may have substandard housing that is vulnerable to theft, perhaps by untrustworthy roommates. (I myself have provided a counterweight to that a time or two by offering safe housing at low cost with no theft by roommates. But not everybody gets to live in my house forever). They may not have the mobility to shop routinely at multiple groceries, so the routine bargain hunting that APowers does so well may not be an option. Also, the recipient may have his/her own problems in functioning, as my friend did before his brain cancer was diagnosed.

For what it's worth, I am glad that it's reasonably easy for a stable person to afford good food using the food stamp budget. If it wasn't, the people who need the benefit wouldn't have enough money for food.

BicycleB, you're spot on. I don't think most people don't get what it's like unless they've been poor and on food stamps and/or assistance. I was a broke single parent with 2 kids working a split shift with a culinary background and food stamps were a life line for me but it was still difficult to manage. Yeah, dried beans are cheap but they also take time to cook. I started out fresh with nothing so my first food stamp purchase were just the basics - salt, sugar, flour, etc. I'm now FI and ready to RE so it's not as if there's no way out but it was a long, painful journey.

Most people don't actually get the max in food stamps. Someone I know with 2 kids gets $126 a month. That's meant to supplement what they're already spending to improve the quality of what they're eating not replace their food budget.

Unique User

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2019, 06:46:45 AM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

Probably wouldn't be very healthy and would result in bland meals, but I think it's doable.  My parent received food stamps when I was a kid, we had bland meals and it wasn't easy, I agree.  I'd spend my first weeks money at the dollar store and get the following for $28 plus tax because I agree on the problems of going to multiple stores.  My Dollar Tree has very limited fresh produce, others might have more, but I have seen all of the below there.  For two people I'd double the bread, canned beans, frozen veggies and apples and might only have hot sauce, soy sauce, salt/pepper, rice and tea bags leftover at the end of the week.     

Peanut butter
Jelly
Bread
Can refried beans
Can black beans
Bag of rice (2lb)
Tortillas
Oil
Eggs
Pack of salt and pepper
Oatmeal
Bag of frozen broccoli
Bag of frozen green beans
Bag of frozen peppers and onions
Cheese slices
Soy sauce
Hot sauce
Bag of apples
Head of Iceberg
Ĺ gallon milk
Pack of tortillas
Pack of 6 ramen
Box of pasta
Can of pasta sauce
Box of 50 tea bags
Sugar
Margarine
Some treat - pretzels, nuts, cookies, whatever

Breakfasts Ė toast, oatmeal, eggs
Lunches Ė PB&J, bean/cheese/lettuce tortillas, cheese and lettuce sandwiches with apples
Dinners Ė beans and rice with hot sauce and sautťed peppers and onions, fried rice with frozen veggies, egg and soy sauce, pasta with green beans or broccoli on side, ramen with frozen veggies, soy sauce and a poached egg
Beverages Ė water, milk, hot tea, iced tea
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 06:52:26 AM by Unique User »

Villanelle

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2019, 06:51:26 AM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

How much do you think PB&J & eggs cost?

Aldi prices here in TN:
Giant PB: $2.50
Jelly: $1.50
Bread: $0.90
Paper plates: $2.00
Plastic cups: $2.75
Plasticware: $4.30
Sandwich bags: $2.10
Milk: $2.40
Eggs: $0.80

After tax, thatís at least a weekís worth of food for under $25. You can add in some vegetables for $5 to keep it a bit healthier, but this is very doable.

Edit: nearly half of that is disposable eating utensils, so after a little buildup, you could get actual silverware, dishes, and dish soap and cut the budget further.

As I thought I very clearly said but see now that I left something out of an early sentence, you can buy a few of the things I listed, but not all of them.  So yes, you can eat PBJ and 2 eggs, with a glass of milk each day, for every meal for a week.   But you can't buy the supplies to eat PBJ for only 7 meals a week, eggs for 7 meals, and rice and beans for 7 meals, with a handful of carrots and a daily apple for balance.

I clearly said that it's possible to eat for just $30 a week.  But you are going to be eating the same thing for nearly every meal, every day.   So maybe week 1 is PBJ 2x/day and 2 eggs once a day, for 7 days.  Week two might be a bag of rice and canned beans (if no time for tried) and maybe an apple each day.  Week 3 perhaps pasta with butter 2 meals a day and eggs one meal, maybe with a banana most days.  (Notice no mention of any spices at all.)

Survivable.  But pretty damn unpleasant for most people.  When it comes to food, $126/mo and $31.50/week are not quite the same. 

Villanelle

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2019, 06:53:37 AM »
Does Dollar Tree take SNAP?  Does the hypothetical person in question live within biking distance of a Dollar Tree?

Again, doable, but it's not the same experience as someone comfortably well-off doing this SNAP challenge.  That's my point.  Not that living on $30/week isn't possible. 

Laura Ingalls

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2019, 07:05:39 AM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

How much do you think PB&J & eggs cost?

Aldi prices here in TN:
Giant PB: $2.50
Jelly: $1.50
Bread: $0.90
Paper plates: $2.00
Plastic cups: $2.75
Plasticware: $4.30
Sandwich bags: $2.10
Milk: $2.40
Eggs: $0.80

After tax, thatís at least a weekís worth of food for under $25. You can add in some vegetables for $5 to keep it a bit healthier, but this is very doable.

Edit: nearly half of that is disposable eating utensils, so after a little buildup, you could get actual silverware, dishes, and dish soap and cut the budget further.

So you could live on two eggs and two peanut butter sandwiches per day for a week?  I would be seriously hanger.  Also none of the paper products on your list can be bought with SNAP. 

Unique User

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2019, 07:07:32 AM »
Does Dollar Tree take SNAP?  Does the hypothetical person in question live within biking distance of a Dollar Tree?

Again, doable, but it's not the same experience as someone comfortably well-off doing this SNAP challenge.  That's my point.  Not that living on $30/week isn't possible.

I have two equidistant to me and both have signs on the door that they take EBT cards.  And one is located within hundreds and hundreds of apartment units and the other is walking distance from a small public housing apartment complex. 

I agree it isn't not the same as someone well off.  I tried to list items/meals that would only require one pot, one pan and a knife and are relatively easy to prepare.  All items you can get at Dollar Tree as well, but I also realize not everyone has those items.  Post FIRE I'd really like to volunteer to help SNAP recipients with shopping, meal planning and cooking skills because, many people don't have those skills. 

El Jacinto

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2019, 09:18:57 AM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

How much do you think PB&J & eggs cost?

Aldi prices here in TN:
Giant PB: $2.50
Jelly: $1.50
Bread: $0.90
Paper plates: $2.00
Plastic cups: $2.75
Plasticware: $4.30
Sandwich bags: $2.10
Milk: $2.40
Eggs: $0.80

After tax, thatís at least a weekís worth of food for under $25. You can add in some vegetables for $5 to keep it a bit healthier, but this is very doable.

Edit: nearly half of that is disposable eating utensils, so after a little buildup, you could get actual silverware, dishes, and dish soap and cut the budget further.

So you could live on two eggs and two peanut butter sandwiches per day for a week?  I would be seriously hanger.  Also none of the paper products on your list can be bought with SNAP.

I do that for breakfast and lunch now. I would be very happy if my wife let me do PB&J for dinner.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2019, 11:15:30 AM »
Instead of looking at the average benefit I think it's more useful to look at the maximum benefit, given to people with no other income. This amount is $192/month for an individual

Sounds fine to me.  Someone, please send me $192, and I'll happily take the challenge.  That's only $8 less than my current monthly food budget of $200.

Laura Ingalls

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2019, 02:10:01 PM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

How much do you think PB&J & eggs cost?

Aldi prices here in TN:
Giant PB: $2.50
Jelly: $1.50
Bread: $0.90
Paper plates: $2.00
Plastic cups: $2.75
Plasticware: $4.30
Sandwich bags: $2.10
Milk: $2.40
Eggs: $0.80

After tax, thatís at least a weekís worth of food for under $25. You can add in some vegetables for $5 to keep it a bit healthier, but this is very doable.

Edit: nearly half of that is disposable eating utensils, so after a little buildup, you could get actual silverware, dishes, and dish soap and cut the budget further.

So you could live on two eggs and two peanut butter sandwiches per day for a week?  I would be seriously hanger.  Also none of the paper products on your list can be bought with SNAP.

I do that for breakfast and lunch now. I would be very happy if my wife let me do PB&J for dinner.

Maybe you can but itís only about 1200 calories a day.  Most adult humans would be malnourished strictly in the caloric sense.  God forbid you had a physically demanding job or walked/cycled to work. 

HipGnosis

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2019, 07:18:16 PM »
I tried to list items/meals that would only require one pot, one pan and a knife and are relatively easy to prepare.  All items you can get at Dollar Tree as well
Dollar tree has cheap food items, but very little few value food items.  I did a grocery price book last year, and sorted the items by price per oz. 
Large size is almost always at the top, and buying them on sale are the best values (I use the store weekly mailers, not coupons).
Food stamps were phased out years ago - as they were widely abused.  There were replaced with SNAP EBT cards.   The cards are funded monthly.

APowers

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2019, 08:13:04 PM »
@seattlecyclone, that's really interesting information. I didn't know that.

I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

^I strongly agree with this.

Someone on food stamps probably has a lot of problems that a Mustachian normally doesn't. As someone who rents rooms to people with modest incomes, and sometimes volunteers helping homeless people, I've known several people who used such benefits. Hell, one of my best friends was on them after he lost his work skills and before his brain cancer was diagnosed.

A food stamp recipient may not have the stability that we have. They may lose housing during their food stamp use, reducing their ability to store food and cook efficiently. They may have substandard housing that is vulnerable to theft, perhaps by untrustworthy roommates. (I myself have provided a counterweight to that a time or two by offering safe housing at low cost with no theft by roommates. But not everybody gets to live in my house forever). They may not have the mobility to shop routinely at multiple groceries, so the routine bargain hunting that APowers does so well may not be an option. Also, the recipient may have his/her own problems in functioning, as my friend did before his brain cancer was diagnosed.

For what it's worth, I am glad that it's reasonably easy for a stable person to afford good food using the food stamp budget. If it wasn't, the people who need the benefit wouldn't have enough money for food.

BicycleB, you're spot on. I don't think most people don't get what it's like unless they've been poor and on food stamps and/or assistance. I was a broke single parent with 2 kids working a split shift with a culinary background and food stamps were a life line for me but it was still difficult to manage. Yeah, dried beans are cheap but they also take time to cook. I started out fresh with nothing so my first food stamp purchase were just the basics - salt, sugar, flour, etc. I'm now FI and ready to RE so it's not as if there's no way out but it was a long, painful journey.

Most people don't actually get the max in food stamps. Someone I know with 2 kids gets $126 a month. That's meant to supplement what they're already spending to improve the quality of what they're eating not replace their food budget.

This. Someone who is not only cash-poor, but also not in stable housing or in a situation without access to a kitchen or any safe pantry/fridge space is in a difficult living situation, and keeping a food budget as low as mine is MUCH MUCH more difficult. I am in no way opposed to SNAP benefits being as high as they are, and in fact would be fine if they increased, especially for folks who are not in stable housing or income situations. Of all people who need help, those are the ones, and designated funds for food helps in an incredibly concrete and efficient manner.

I rant about people who complain that food costs "SO much", but almost invariably, those people are not destitute and housing unstable. They're normal lower-middle class folks who are already spending $500-800/month on food, and are bothered by their spending enough to whinge, but not so bothered as to take corrective action. If you're actually poor, props to you-- that's rough, and I will be happy to help you, if you're willing to do what it takes to get out of poverty. If you're "poor", but have a relatively stable job+housing situation, then meh-- don't come whining to me about how life is hard; suck it up and come over for budgeting lessons.

Unique User

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2019, 08:27:44 AM »
I tried to list items/meals that would only require one pot, one pan and a knife and are relatively easy to prepare.  All items you can get at Dollar Tree as well
Dollar tree has cheap food items, but very little few value food items.  I did a grocery price book last year, and sorted the items by price per oz. 
Large size is almost always at the top, and buying them on sale are the best values (I use the store weekly mailers, not coupons).
Food stamps were phased out years ago - as they were widely abused.  There were replaced with SNAP EBT cards.   The cards are funded monthly.

Large sizes (usually, but not always) and buying on sale are the best value, but for someone that has a tiny budget for a week and little access to grocery stores or transportation to a far away grocery store, the dollar store may be the best option and allow for more variety.  I can think of at least a couple places I've lived that had neighborhoods with poor public transportation and no grocery stores nearby, but that had dollar stores.  Not everyone has the space to store larger sizes either.  And for the math challenged, it is easy to keep track of - if I have $25 to spend, I can get 25 items. 

Zikoris

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2019, 04:14:10 PM »
Another person whose "challenge" would involve spending a substantial amount more. We've averaged about $1/meal for many years with no difficulty. We don't really do bulk buying due to space constraints and no car, except for flour and rice - we buy those in 10-20lb sacks and bring them home in our cat stroller.

It's interesting to me that people who do the low-spend challenges rarely seem to buy flour, but frequently buy bread, tortillas, etc. We spend $6.50/month for a sack of flour that's more than enough for all the flour-based things that two people would eat - bread, tortillas, pizza dough, pastry for savoury pies or pasties, etc.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2019, 04:29:57 PM »
It seems that the Mustachian version of the Food Stamp Challenge is not having a sub-$192/month food budget, but instead how to have the most assets/income while still qualifying for food stamps and other similar benefits.

Step one is clearly going to be moving to, or living in, Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, or Ohio.http://scorecard.prosperitynow.org/2016/measure/asset-limits-in-public-benefit-programs

Step two is probably have a couple rental properties that cash flow out the wazoo, but still show a paper loss.

Step three might be to buy Berkshire Hathaway or other stocks that produce no dividends.

APowers

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2019, 07:23:17 PM »
Another person whose "challenge" would involve spending a substantial amount more. We've averaged about $1/meal for many years with no difficulty. We don't really do bulk buying due to space constraints and no car, except for flour and rice - we buy those in 10-20lb sacks and bring them home in our cat stroller.

It's interesting to me that people who do the low-spend challenges rarely seem to buy flour, but frequently buy bread, tortillas, etc. We spend $6.50/month for a sack of flour that's more than enough for all the flour-based things that two people would eat - bread, tortillas, pizza dough, pastry for savoury pies or pasties, etc.

I buy bread-- mainly for the convenience. Tortillas, for example, are crazy cheap to make, but are a time/effort cost that I choose not to pay. Also, my countertop is pretty terrible for rolling out anything.

Also, because I can't seem to get my whole wheat homemade bread to turn out nearly as good for sandwiches as store-bought whole wheat bread.

remizidae

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2019, 08:50:09 PM »
I did something very similar as part of a class in junior high.

The one somewhat misleading part of this is that most people calculate by dividing a per-serving cost.  So they take that $5 jar of PBJ and calculate that one sandwich worth is $0.25.  Some jelly and two slices of bread and maybe it's a $1 sandwich.  Easy.  However, having enough money to purchase the entire jar of peanut butter, the entire jar of jelly, and the entire loaf of bread can be a challenge. You need money up front to eat cheaply.  Go to the store and spend $75 and then another $50 two weeks later and you are at that SNAP budget and eating very comfortably.  But if you break it down to just a week (about $32), it becomes a lot more challenging because you'd likely need to eat PBJ for a lot of those meals because you don't have the budget to purchase variety. Maybe you can't by the sandwich makings and some eggs, milk, apples, rice, beans, tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, and maybe some salt and pepper and garlic.  That might be enough food for two weeks, but if you only have a one week at a time budget, you can't purchase all that.  APowers explained this very well. 

That's not to say it can't be done, but I don't know that saying many of us do it quite simulates the experience of a truly struggling person starting from scratch.

How much do you think PB&J & eggs cost?

Aldi prices here in TN:
Giant PB: $2.50
Jelly: $1.50
Bread: $0.90
Paper plates: $2.00
Plastic cups: $2.75
Plasticware: $4.30
Sandwich bags: $2.10
Milk: $2.40
Eggs: $0.80

After tax, thatís at least a weekís worth of food for under $25. You can add in some vegetables for $5 to keep it a bit healthier, but this is very doable.

Edit: nearly half of that is disposable eating utensils, so after a little buildup, you could get actual silverware, dishes, and dish soap and cut the budget further.

So you could live on two eggs and two peanut butter sandwiches per day for a week?  I would be seriously hanger.  Also none of the paper products on your list can be bought with SNAP.

I do that for breakfast and lunch now. I would be very happy if my wife let me do PB&J for dinner.

Maybe you can but itís only about 1200 calories a day.  Most adult humans would be malnourished strictly in the caloric sense.  God forbid you had a physically demanding job or walked/cycled to work.

So I actually did the math here (I clearly have too much free time) and calculated the nutritional value of the food items listed. Bread, peanut butter, jelly, milk and eggs would get you only 1734 calories a day--and 908 of those would be from the peanut butter! (Aldi sells giant things of peanut butter). That's significantly below the calorie intake most of us need in order to sustain our level of activity. Not to mention that you would be quite low on protein and getting less than half of recommended fiber. You wouldn't starve, but you wouldn't want to live that way.

Cassie

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2019, 10:02:29 PM »
I could have been on food stamps when I was a working single mom of one child. I went hungry but my son didnít. I donít recommend it.

HipGnosis

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2019, 10:36:57 AM »
It seems that the Mustachian version of the Food Stamp Challenge is not having a sub-$192/month food budget, but instead how to have the most assets/income while still qualifying for food stamps and other similar benefits.

Step one is clearly going to be moving to, or living in, Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, or Ohio.http://scorecard.prosperitynow.org/2016/measure/asset-limits-in-public-benefit-programs

Step two is probably have a couple rental properties that cash flow out the wazoo, but still show a paper loss.

Step three might be to buy Berkshire Hathaway or other stocks that produce no dividends.
Those states have no asset limit on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which has nothing to do with food stamps or it's replacement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
34 states and DC have no asset limit on SNAP - per the article you linked.

Cassie

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2019, 10:45:52 AM »
Many poor people live in food deserts so donít have access to decent quality food. If you have poor public transportation and have to walk to a convenience store to get food itís going to be more expensive and unhealthy.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2019, 01:03:12 PM »
Those states have no asset limit on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which has nothing to do with food stamps or it's replacement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
34 states and DC have no asset limit on SNAP - per the article you linked.
Yes, that's why I stated "food stamps and other similar benefits." Just qualifying for SNAP would be too easy of a challenge for this crowd. ;-)
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 01:04:51 PM by YttriumNitrate »

phildonnia

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2019, 02:42:36 PM »
Many poor people live in food deserts so donít have access to decent quality food. If you have poor public transportation and have to walk to a convenience store to get food itís going to be more expensive and unhealthy.

I hear this a lot, but I'm not entirely convinced that "food deserts" really exist within urban areas. 

In some of the more poor-concentrated parts of my own home town, I don't know of any place that is more than a mile from a Walmart, 99c Only, Winco, or Grocery Outlet; all of which sell milk, vegetables, fruit, bread, and so on.  I'm not saying this is universally true, but I don't think that food deserts are really part of the nutrition problem. 

The arguments I usually get from this observation are usually the following:
1) Discount stores?!  Eww!! You must really hate poor people to suggest that they eat food from there.
2) Yes, but there are twice the number of Taco Bells and Liquor Stores in the same area
3) But my kids won't eat vegetables
4) Working two jobs, I don't have time to cook it
5) Discount stores are contributing to the problem with their low wages
6) Discount stores are making urban problems worse by driving out higher-quality stores.

I'm not suggesting that you make any of these arguments, just that I hear them a lot. 

As for #1, I can only say that the real contempt for the poor is in the attitude that poverty is defined by the inability to eat premium quality ingredients, or shop at swanky stores.  For what it's worth, I and my mustache shop almost exclusively at the grocery stores mentioned above. 

As for #6: to the extent this is true, I say, good.  It is unacceptable that the choice is between premium food or no food, and a free market does exactly what it should: presents an alternative.  Likewise, #5 is actually a solution to a problem: the choice between high wages or no wages.

The rest of it, I actually agree that it's all a problem.  It's just not a problem of food availability.  There is a lack of transportation, a lack of life skills, a lack of nutrition education, a lack of planning, and so on.  To approach these as a problem of food availability is to whiff these problems entirely, and suggest a solution that cannot be successful.

Then again, I don't really spend much time on the mean streets, so I may have it wrong. There may be food deserts.  I just haven't had one specifically pointed out to me.

OtherJen

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2019, 04:01:33 PM »
Many poor people live in food deserts so donít have access to decent quality food. If you have poor public transportation and have to walk to a convenience store to get food itís going to be more expensive and unhealthy.

I hear this a lot, but I'm not entirely convinced that "food deserts" really exist within urban areas. 

In some of the more poor-concentrated parts of my own home town, I don't know of any place that is more than a mile from a Walmart, 99c Only, Winco, or Grocery Outlet; all of which sell milk, vegetables, fruit, bread, and so on.  I'm not saying this is universally true, but I don't think that food deserts are really part of the nutrition problem. 

The arguments I usually get from this observation are usually the following:
1) Discount stores?!  Eww!! You must really hate poor people to suggest that they eat food from there.
2) Yes, but there are twice the number of Taco Bells and Liquor Stores in the same area
3) But my kids won't eat vegetables
4) Working two jobs, I don't have time to cook it
5) Discount stores are contributing to the problem with their low wages
6) Discount stores are making urban problems worse by driving out higher-quality stores.

I'm not suggesting that you make any of these arguments, just that I hear them a lot. 

As for #1, I can only say that the real contempt for the poor is in the attitude that poverty is defined by the inability to eat premium quality ingredients, or shop at swanky stores.  For what it's worth, I and my mustache shop almost exclusively at the grocery stores mentioned above. 

As for #6: to the extent this is true, I say, good.  It is unacceptable that the choice is between premium food or no food, and a free market does exactly what it should: presents an alternative.  Likewise, #5 is actually a solution to a problem: the choice between high wages or no wages.

The rest of it, I actually agree that it's all a problem.  It's just not a problem of food availability.  There is a lack of transportation, a lack of life skills, a lack of nutrition education, a lack of planning, and so on.  To approach these as a problem of food availability is to whiff these problems entirely, and suggest a solution that cannot be successful.

Then again, I don't really spend much time on the mean streets, so I may have it wrong. There may be food deserts.  I just haven't had one specifically pointed out to me.

Where do you live?

Fi(re) on the Farm

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2019, 04:21:50 PM »
Many poor people live in food deserts so donít have access to decent quality food. If you have poor public transportation and have to walk to a convenience store to get food itís going to be more expensive and unhealthy.

I hear this a lot, but I'm not entirely convinced that "food deserts" really exist within urban areas. 

In some of the more poor-concentrated parts of my own home town, I don't know of any place that is more than a mile from a Walmart, 99c Only, Winco, or Grocery Outlet; all of which sell milk, vegetables, fruit, bread, and so on.  I'm not saying this is universally true, but I don't think that food deserts are really part of the nutrition problem. 

The arguments I usually get from this observation are usually the following:
1) Discount stores?!  Eww!! You must really hate poor people to suggest that they eat food from there.
2) Yes, but there are twice the number of Taco Bells and Liquor Stores in the same area
3) But my kids won't eat vegetables
4) Working two jobs, I don't have time to cook it
5) Discount stores are contributing to the problem with their low wages
6) Discount stores are making urban problems worse by driving out higher-quality stores.

I'm not suggesting that you make any of these arguments, just that I hear them a lot. 

As for #1, I can only say that the real contempt for the poor is in the attitude that poverty is defined by the inability to eat premium quality ingredients, or shop at swanky stores.  For what it's worth, I and my mustache shop almost exclusively at the grocery stores mentioned above. 

As for #6: to the extent this is true, I say, good.  It is unacceptable that the choice is between premium food or no food, and a free market does exactly what it should: presents an alternative.  Likewise, #5 is actually a solution to a problem: the choice between high wages or no wages.

The rest of it, I actually agree that it's all a problem.  It's just not a problem of food availability.  There is a lack of transportation, a lack of life skills, a lack of nutrition education, a lack of planning, and so on.  To approach these as a problem of food availability is to whiff these problems entirely, and suggest a solution that cannot be successful.

Then again, I don't really spend much time on the mean streets, so I may have it wrong. There may be food deserts.  I just haven't had one specifically pointed out to me.

Where do you live?

The town I live in has no grocery store and spotty bus service so your options are the convenience store and the convenience store if you don't have a car or a bike. In the city I work in, there's no grocery store in the north end of the city. It's a haul to get to a good sized grocer.

Zikoris

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2019, 04:50:58 PM »
Many poor people live in food deserts so donít have access to decent quality food. If you have poor public transportation and have to walk to a convenience store to get food itís going to be more expensive and unhealthy.

I hear this a lot, but I'm not entirely convinced that "food deserts" really exist within urban areas. 

In some of the more poor-concentrated parts of my own home town, I don't know of any place that is more than a mile from a Walmart, 99c Only, Winco, or Grocery Outlet; all of which sell milk, vegetables, fruit, bread, and so on.  I'm not saying this is universally true, but I don't think that food deserts are really part of the nutrition problem. 

The arguments I usually get from this observation are usually the following:
1) Discount stores?!  Eww!! You must really hate poor people to suggest that they eat food from there.
2) Yes, but there are twice the number of Taco Bells and Liquor Stores in the same area
3) But my kids won't eat vegetables
4) Working two jobs, I don't have time to cook it
5) Discount stores are contributing to the problem with their low wages
6) Discount stores are making urban problems worse by driving out higher-quality stores.

I'm not suggesting that you make any of these arguments, just that I hear them a lot. 

As for #1, I can only say that the real contempt for the poor is in the attitude that poverty is defined by the inability to eat premium quality ingredients, or shop at swanky stores.  For what it's worth, I and my mustache shop almost exclusively at the grocery stores mentioned above. 

As for #6: to the extent this is true, I say, good.  It is unacceptable that the choice is between premium food or no food, and a free market does exactly what it should: presents an alternative.  Likewise, #5 is actually a solution to a problem: the choice between high wages or no wages.

The rest of it, I actually agree that it's all a problem.  It's just not a problem of food availability.  There is a lack of transportation, a lack of life skills, a lack of nutrition education, a lack of planning, and so on.  To approach these as a problem of food availability is to whiff these problems entirely, and suggest a solution that cannot be successful.

Then again, I don't really spend much time on the mean streets, so I may have it wrong. There may be food deserts.  I just haven't had one specifically pointed out to me.

I question the whole food desert thing as well, because I've seen various incarnations of it debunked several times. Even right here on this forum, there was an interesting case study where we looked at a map of a city that had the food deserts marked, and it turned out that they didn't actually exist when you dug down a bit - these places turned out to be prisons, cemeteries, and industrial areas where nobody actually lived. The ones that had people living in them turned out to actually have grocery stores, they just weren't large enough stores to qualify according to the standards of the study. It really made me question the whole thing. I'd love to see some more actual maps and data.

OtherJen

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #38 on: January 07, 2019, 05:09:05 PM »
There are parts of the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan that don't have much other than convenience stores, and the poverty in those areas is quite stark. Quite frankly, the situation has gotten worse in the last 10 years. Parts of Detroit also have spotty access beyond convenience stores, but at least there are roads and buses.

Cassie

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2019, 09:28:47 PM »
I was a social worker and have lived in rural areas where you werenít eating without a vehicle. 

Zikoris

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #40 on: January 07, 2019, 09:40:38 PM »
I was a social worker and have lived in rural areas where you werenít eating without a vehicle.

I don't think anyone has ever denied that people who live out in the sticks have limited access to all types of stores - to my understanding, the concept of food deserts is normally limited to actual towns and cities.

Cassie

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #41 on: January 07, 2019, 09:47:38 PM »
Yes they exist in cities too and then you have too be able to carry or roll your food home. If itís hot in summer you can only go so far until everything melts.

Zikoris

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2019, 10:09:09 PM »
Yes they exist in cities too and then you have too be able to carry or roll your food home. If itís hot in summer you can only go so far until everything melts.

I hear you, it's just that because the examples have been proven wrong quite a few times, I really would like to see some concrete evidence. Like, a map with the food desert drawn on it, so I can look around the area on google maps, see if there are reasonably priced delivery services available, see what's available for public transit, and see if they're excluding smaller shops from their criteria, which can be great places to shop. I mean, shit, people claim there are food deserts in Vancouver, which is freaking nuts.

galliver

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2019, 11:35:45 PM »
Yes they exist in cities too and then you have too be able to carry or roll your food home. If it’s hot in summer you can only go so far until everything melts.

I hear you, it's just that because the examples have been proven wrong quite a few times, I really would like to see some concrete evidence. Like, a map with the food desert drawn on it, so I can look around the area on google maps, see if there are reasonably priced delivery services available, see what's available for public transit, and see if they're excluding smaller shops from their criteria, which can be great places to shop. I mean, shit, people claim there are food deserts in Vancouver, which is freaking nuts.
I hear you; I have asked the same question after finding my college on a food desserts map. I think my grad school apartment qualified also. Both places I took the bus for a ~weekly grocery shop, no problem.

But as was pointed out to me, not everyone has the flexibility of a student. My bus rides were "free" (included in a mandatory university fee). For parts of the time I'm discussing, I had a bike, a bank account, a credit card (if I had wanted to do delivery). I didn't need to worry about  the cost of gas to get to the store, or childcare, or whether the kids would eat the unfamiliar/nutritious food or if it would go in the trash (after a fight that would eat into valuable sleep time for you both).

People have different circumstances, with their own challenges and advantages. For any set of goalposts you can find someone who can say "I made it through worse/harder." So what? Most of the people receiving benefits in the US are families (kids!), the elderly, and prime with disabilities. They likely face challenges our example person does not. I'd rather err on the side of giving them a bit more flexibility and save that government dime on something less essential than food.

Fae

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2019, 06:28:54 AM »
Yes they exist in cities too and then you have too be able to carry or roll your food home. If itís hot in summer you can only go so far until everything melts.

I hear you, it's just that because the examples have been proven wrong quite a few times, I really would like to see some concrete evidence. Like, a map with the food desert drawn on it, so I can look around the area on google maps, see if there are reasonably priced delivery services available, see what's available for public transit, and see if they're excluding smaller shops from their criteria, which can be great places to shop. I mean, shit, people claim there are food deserts in Vancouver, which is freaking nuts.

I think you have the wrong idea about food deserts. They're not places with no close access to food/grocery stores, they're places with limited access to limited selections. Where I grew up and where my parents live there are plenty of places to buy "food" Assuming of course you mean boxed convenience, small portions and limited fresh fruit and vegetables all for more money than a Kroger or meijer. I have attached a picture of where my parents live with a search of nearby grocery stores. The Broadway Foods and the Save-A-Lot are the only ones that have any sort of selection of fresh food (consistently) or bulk item for a reasonable price. And that's a recent development (~5 years) for Broadway foods. The Save-a-lot lacks in quality, there have been plenty of times when my moms gone there and the half of the "fresh" fruit and vegetables were over-ripe and starting to rot. There is a Kroger a little further a way, that you could theoretically take the bus to. They're supposed to run every 30 min on weekdays and every 1.5 hours on weekends and I'll admit the buses are more consistent than they used to be but they're still not great (or even very good). My sisters friend takes the bus to work, she gets to the bus stop 2 hours early to make sure she's at work on time (and she's still been late a couple times because of the bus). Plus if you have kids riding the bus isn't cheap. $1.25 per ride for everyone 6 and up or you can get a monthly $50 pass, of course that pass is only for one person so you you would have to get one for each of your kids over 6 years.

phildonnia

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #45 on: January 08, 2019, 10:32:52 AM »
Many poor people live in food deserts so donít have access to decent quality food. If you have poor public transportation and have to walk to a convenience store to get food itís going to be more expensive and unhealthy.

(blah, blah, blah...)

Then again, I don't really spend much time on the mean streets, so I may have it wrong. There may be food deserts.  I just haven't had one specifically pointed out to me.

Where do you live?

In the Sacramento, California area.  The payday-lending-heavy neighborhoods are Meadowview and Del Paso Heights.  I've driven through both, generally along the main drag, and seen discount grocery stores at regular intervals. 

OtherJen

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #46 on: January 08, 2019, 04:27:37 PM »
Here's a section of the city of Detroit (scale bar: 1 mile) that is barely serviced by convenience stores, much less grocery stores. This is a high-poverty area and the mass transit system is notoriously lousy (to non-existent in many areas). Does this count?


Zikoris

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #47 on: January 09, 2019, 01:19:15 PM »
Here's a section of the city of Detroit (scale bar: 1 mile) that is barely serviced by convenience stores, much less grocery stores. This is a high-poverty area and the mass transit system is notoriously lousy (to non-existent in many areas). Does this count?

Is that considered bad? That seems like quite a lot of options within the area shown.

OtherJen

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #48 on: January 09, 2019, 01:38:07 PM »
Here's a section of the city of Detroit (scale bar: 1 mile) that is barely serviced by convenience stores, much less grocery stores. This is a high-poverty area and the mass transit system is notoriously lousy (to non-existent in many areas). Does this count?

Is that considered bad? That seems like quite a lot of options within the area shown.

I don't know. Maybe it's fine for the people who live in that approximately 30 square mile section of Detroit (see 1-mile scale bar on the lower right of each map).

Note that here in Michigan, convenience stores tend to sell only alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, candy, shelf-stable snacks (cookies, chips, beef jerky, salted nuts), and maybe a few prepackaged sandwiches and/or pizza (i.e., very little that could be used to actually cook a balanced meal). In grocery stores, fresh produce selections tend to be spotty beyond major chains and some ethnic grocers, especially if there's no direct local competition. Detroit has urban farms, but nothing grows here in January.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Food Stamp Challenge
« Reply #49 on: January 09, 2019, 02:10:48 PM »
Here's a section of the city of Detroit (scale bar: 1 mile) that is barely serviced by convenience stores, much less grocery stores. This is a high-poverty area and the mass transit system is notoriously lousy (to non-existent in many areas). Does this count?
Your screenshots appear to be leaving out a lot of grocery stores. For example, just looking at the area bounded by 96, 94, 8, and 10 your map shows just the Food Farm Market, but there is also the Saving Barrel Market, the Family Foods Super Store, and the Boulevard Market.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 02:14:37 PM by YttriumNitrate »