Some elected officials have been making news recently for trying to live on what most people call food stamps for a week. Do you think you could do it? It is not an easy task. The average monthly benefit http://www.snaptohealth.org/snap/snap-frequently-asked-questions/#benefitis for $133.07 for a single person for a family of 4 it is $274.98. That’s for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. Most persons who receive food stamps find that to stretch the most out of their dollars that they end up buying stomach filling foods such as pastas, rice, potatoes, and processed foods such as boxed mac & cheese or Raman noodles. Many of these foods are high in sodium, high in calories, high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition. What could you do on $1.40 a day? This is how one family tried to make it.
Alice is the mother of 2 daughters 10 and 8. She was never planning on being a single mom but when her oldest daughter was 7 her husband died. After funeral expenses, there simply wasn’t anything left. They were forced to sell their home which was mortgaged to the hilt, and move to a one bedroom apartment. Alice found a job in an office and worked 8 to 5 but it wasn’t enough to put food on the table. By the time Alice paid the rent and utilities there was only $108 left. So Alice did what any mom would do, she applied for help. She received about $150.00 a month. So now there a $250.00 to spare food, clothing, school supplies, home supplies and of course personal items such as toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and simple medications like aspirin, band aides, or OTC meds.
“It was a difficult situation, and so draining. I was always worrying if we would have enough each month money wise for utilities, money for the girls for school stuff and just being able to have a good dinner each night. I was always worrying, “Alice stated. “Most of our dinners were pretty simple, we did eat a lot of macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and hot dogs.” The one thing Alice found you can’t just wing it. Food had to be planned.” You can’t just stop for coffee and a donut, you have to coupon clip and there isn’t enough for take-out”, Alice states. “The worrying though it what gets to you,” she quietly tells.
This situation was the most difficult 3 years that Alice and her family faced. “When you love the father of your children and your husband that is devastating, but then to realize you don’t have the means to take care of your family, it’s overwhelming.” Alice goes on “I was lucky in a way, I met my second husband Jeff at church. We married the beginning of this year and we no need food assistance. To know I can provide my girls with enough to eat, to have a place to live and well just knowing this, some of the worrying has been relieved. You always worry about your kids, but now it’s for different reasons.”
At the end of our conversation, Alice asks, “I wonder if congressman and other elected officials know what it’s like to wonder if you will have enough to eat today or if your kids will be going to bed hungry, let them have to live that way just for a month, even a week, bet they wouldn’t cut benefits to the hungry ever again.”
In 2014, the actual monthly benefits that help feed citizens has been cut from the average of $200 has been reduced to $182.00http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/28/food-stamps-will-get-cut-by-5-billion-this-week-and-more-cuts-could-follow/. Other cuts are that states would reinstate limits on benefits for able-bodied, childless adults aged 18 to 50. These recipients would only be able to collect limited benefits — up to three months over a three-year period — unless they worked more than 20 hours per week or enrolled in job-training programs.
Another cut is one that would restrict states’ abilities to determine a person’s eligibility for food stamps based in part on whether they qualify for other low-income benefits. This change has eliminated another 2.1 million people off food stamps in 2014 and then remove an additional 1.8 million people per year for the next decade.
Alice could be on to something. Why don’t our elected officials walk a day in the shoes of people who live near or below the poverty line? Take away their credit cards, place a hold on their bank accounts and for just a week, seven days, live on $45.00 for that week. You can’t eat at any rallies, no luncheons, and no freebies. Do what so many so many of the working class has to do. Try shopping at SavALot or Bottom Dollar foods. Lots of us do. As Alice said, “Before they make any more cuts walk in our shoes.” That tells it all.