Have you ever seen ‘The Chew‘? I love it. There’s food, a bit of talk about fashion and general ‘woman’ type stuff. For instance today they talked about ‘one pot wonders’ including a brisket sandwich, chicken stews, and even an audience member got to get up and boss ‘the chew crew’ around, as well as talking about nutrition and adding some wonder to your bra (aka get a bra fitting). Pretty fun.
Anyway, someone you may be familiar with from talk shows or if you’ve ever turned on the food network is the ever-red-ponytailed and orange clogged Mario Batali. As his name implies, he’s of Italian descent. He works with the food bank that’s local to the program and has been discussing (in brief) that the Farm Bill is up in Congress again and that there’s a chance that food stamps will be cut by 50% or done away with completely. He’s taking a ‘food stamp’ challenge to see if he and his family, which includes 2 teen boys, in the family of 4, can live on the average food stamp U.S. which is $124 a week. Here’s an article on it. I’m sure there’s plenty more.What he’s mentioned in this is that #1 he’s hungry, and #2 it is certainly doable, but you don’t really thrive on this amount of $/food. There’s not much quick eating/eating out because that is expensive, and there aren’t many extras.
There are hungry people out there, people that need assistance (whatever that may be). It would be great if it was ‘like it used to be’ when your family helped out where needed, but that doesn’t always happen anymore, does it? You don’t hear about ‘Johnny’ going to live with Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary in Kansas because the family can’t afford them. It just doesn’t happen. Now whether that’s a chicken or egg thing, I’m not sure. Maybe if there weren’t programs, more kids would be making the haul across the country for an extended stay with relatives? In my home county, there’s roughly one family for each day of the year that needs a monthly food basket. It provides about 8 meals for the month. That’s a lot of food every month that’s handed out. Each family gets the same amount, so if it’s a widowed woman, obviously, she eats more/better than the family of 5 that may only get 6 meals out of it. Often, the people there start lining up in the morning for a p.m. basket. Where we live now, each town may have several food pantries, so our church hands out to maybe 5-6 families a week. Overall, this seems less, but it’s hard to tell given that it’s broken up so much by each community. It might be worthwhile to note that where we are from, a significant amount of businesses have closed, and everyone’s fighting over the same few jobs, whereas we now live closer to a metro area, so there’s more opportunity, so maybe fewer people are going without, or they are going without LESS than where we used to live.
Both of us growing up were on some sort of assistance, or our families ate on the cheap. When we were first married, it was a hell of a struggle, and we ate a lot more hot dogs and fewer veggies than we should have. However, it taught us to waste very little (as if our childhoods didn’t do that originally) and to work hard to budget our money. If you’ve been here a while, you’ve seen my magic pantry that is full of SO much food. If something catastrophic happened, we could eat for a few weeks out of our larder, I’m sure. I’m equally sure that we don’t spend $500 directly on food every month. I think we could do it. I think we’d be annoyed without eating out and so on, but it would be fine. We often cut out ‘food extras’ as a first line of defense when needing to trim our budget. We shop at really inexpensive stores and rarely eat expensive items like steak, shellfish, etc. in the first place, so that part would be simple. I think the majority of the problem is that it’s hard to buy ‘pre-made’ stuff that inexpensively. The more heavily processed it is, the more it costs. The quicker it is, the more expense and the more ‘cost’ to your body, oftentimes. Also, I’m not sure that meat lockers (which sell cheaper, fresher, better tasting meat) actually take food stamps. That would be a problem for us.
So it’s Tuesday.. let’s talk about it. Could your family live on $124 (or $93 for 3 or $62 for a couple?) a week? Would you need supplement (beyond free lunches for kids at school)? What would be the hardest part for you? Keep the politics to a minimum mmk?