no groceries challenge revisited

Originally posted on serenebabe.net:

In May and June, I imposed a “no groceries” rule on myself. I was very low on cash. I wanted to find new ways to save money. I know loads about preparing, cooking, and storing good, healthy food. I also knew I wasn’t using the food I already had in an efficient way.

I wrote about it some, in these posts. On Monday, I’m going to start my personal challenge again. This time I’m in less desperate straits, but what I learned a couple months ago stuck with me. I know I’ve strayed off the path of financially healthy decisions.

There are a few significant lessons I learned from my month of not going to the grocery store—with a couple exceptions—that I didn’t share here. My first “real” trip to the supermarket after my challenge was to Whole Foods. As I learned in this personal challenge, leaning on…

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Poverty Has Same Effect On The Brain As Constantly Pulling All Nighters

Originally posted on Women Born Transsexual:

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/30/2555601/living-poverty-effect-brain-constantly-pulling-nighters/

By Bryce Covert
on August 30, 2013

The mental strain of living in poverty and thinking constantly about tight finances can drop a person’s IQ by as much as 13 percent, or about the equivalent of losing a night of sleep, according to a new study. It consumes so much mental energy that there is often little room to think about anything else, which leaves low-income people more susceptible to bad decisions.

One of the study’s authors, Harvard economist Sandhil Mullainathan, told the Washington Post, “Poverty is the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day.”

The researchers came to this conclusion after conducting two separate experiments. The first gave low- and moderate-income shoppers at a mall in New Jersey a number of tests that measure IQ and impulse control, but half of the…

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#AskJamieOliver turned into ,”Hey, Jamie…how am I supposed to eat like that when I’m poor?”

The hashtag #AskJamieOliver on Twitter didn’t go so well for Jamie the other day. I think the tweet chat Q & A was supposed to be to promote his new show but it ended up being a chance for people to call him out on real food privilege . Well, that and to generally mock him.

I’ll just get this sordid confession out of the way right now: I kinda like Jamie Oliver.

I think he means well. I know,I know. Meaning well doesn’t count for much.  I live in an area immersed with food snobs who are also bleeding heart liberals. They’ll dine together over local,organic meals while passionately discussing the plight of poor people. They think they get it but they don’t and they think that by just talking about all these poor people things, they’re being good people. Being good isn’t always the same as doing good…and “doing good” can sometimes end up being a poorly executed maneuver if you don’t have a full understanding of what you’re trying to fix.

This is the main problem with Jamie Oliver.  He is in a perfect position to shed light on and change an oppressive food system but he needs to learn how to do so without shaming those who are struggling with real life problems. He needs a dose of reality and really needs to listen to his critics here.

There were some great snarky and pointed tweets the other day…
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But my favorite tweets related to Jamie Oliver the other day  was a series of tweets by @RhymesWithJen . She summed up what I talked about in The Reasons Poor People Don’t Eat Healthy  a bit more succinctly (140 characters per point,you know) . I always feel like the points are worth reiterating . The people who have had negative critique of the points usually say I’m “making excuses for poor people”, instead of recognizing that it really is that way. For real. We’re not making this stuff up.

(Oh,language advisory here. I didn’t edit out the cursing. I know I was supposed to make this blog more PG Friendly but meh…I hate censoring)
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Mean People Suck : Senator Marbles linking race & food to poverty

There weren’t a whole lot of people making asses of themselves publicly this week. Unless you want to count Miley Cyrus but that doesn’t have much to do with us poor folks, I guess.images

Colorado Senator Vicki Marble made some rather rude and racist remarks about fried chicken. Wait, no…I have that wrong. She loves fried chicken and all that other good grub them black people down south eat. It’s okay if she eats it ….she just wishes they didn’t eat so much of it because …hello,poverty.

Most of the headlines I’ve seen about this have been polite and said that Senator Marbles linked fried chicken to poverty but let’s be clear…she made disparaging remarks about fried chicken and Southern food as a problem in “the black race”. It’s not about chicken.She also pronounced diabetes like Wilfed Brimley ,but that we will forgive. But the racial stereotyping of black people and their fried chicken? No love for that. I half expected her to start talking about how at least black people have watermelon and collard greens .

What she said exactly:

“When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race: sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it,” Marble said. “Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you — I love it.”

Last I observed of my fellow white folks, they love fried chicken and they have diabetes like you wouldn’t believe. Oh, and Scottish people! Goddamn, no one deep fries candy bars like them.

People ….just plain people….all sorts of them…. eat fried food. Okay? If you want to link it with poverty, fine but I think you’ll actually find that people of all economic stature  and racial groups in America eat fried stuff.

She also said that Mexicans only eat vegetables in Mexico but once they get here, they eat poorly.  Well, could it be because they’re at a lower socio-economic level ,so their access to anything that isn’t crap is limited? Huh. Yeah, I think maybe that’s it.

Oh,there are so many talking points here. How racism is what keeps certain people impoverished.The disconnect far too many politicians have with poverty and our food system and how they affect each other. The fact that racism is a tool politicians consciously use . At least the majority of her colleagues are all like, Oh,honey, this is not about chicken. 

Creating an urban garden space

An Urban Revitalization Project (click for a video!)

This was a parking lot. This is a project done by a woman who bought an old ice house and renovated it to live in, in an urban area. The garden is her own space that goes with the property but I think it’s a great example of what can come from urban spaces. There are certainly obstacles when we’re talking about converting abandoned lots and parking lots … permission from the property owner,code enforcement… yadayada…but  these things are easier to overcome when you get a few like minded people together to fight a little bit  (or a lot) for the project. I find if you emphasize, “It’s for the benefit of our community “, you get farther and gain more support.

The Good Stuff: Good news on poverty, food stamp fraud is so low it’s not worth mentioning (yet I just did),and other signs not everyone is with the war on the poor.

I need a better, catchier title for these link round-ups.

  • The Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes has been hosting a community wide SNAP challenge. Participants have left some comments on the blog relaying their experiences during the challenge. -KLF SNAP Challenge blog
  • Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell participated in the SNAP challenge and tweeted about it.  -Twitter Image
  • That Bono. Man, I did love him when I was in 8th grade. The first few U2 albums…Boy , War… those ones. Raw and gritty. A bit rebellious. I really loved that stuff. Bono and I haven’t always seen eye to eye since then, so watching this was hard. I found myself nodding in agreement with him while simultaneously wanting to kick him in the shins. In this TED talk  (aren’t TED talks some of the best things ever?), Bono talks about the good news on poverty. Declining rates with a progression to stay that way if we don’t screw it up. Which e will but you know…
  • I’ve made it personal policy to not address food stamp fraud because the number is so low. Although Conservatives are stating that SNAP fraud is up 30%….  the good news is that it’s still only 1.3% . Like, der. The Weekly Standard Accidentally Makes The Case For Food Stamps
  • Bernie Sanders…working to get the minimum wage raised so families don’t have to struggle so much. Because he gets that it isn’t just teenagers who are working at minimum wage.
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  • 8 people who fight hunger for a living link
  • The secret to one high-poverty school districts success. (nope, not school reform )
  • “People think everyone who is poor gets welfare, and it’s just not true” – myth debunking and some facts about who is getting welfare
  • At food pantries, some find reasons to stay positive – slideshow
  • A Chicago high school is using real life scenarios people in poverty face to teach math -link

Thanks to Jill for leaving this on the Facebook page.

A person making $50,000/year pays a dime a day into the food stamp program

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Seems like I mention this tidbit a lot, whether in discussions or in writing. I think it needed to have it’s very own post here.

The math on this: here

It works out to be about  $36 per year. That’s about the average amount a SNAP recipient receives each week. On average. For my family , we receive $20/per person per week but my partner works full time. The amount varies based on your income and resources and it’s different in each state…but on average, it’s typically between $30-35/ week.

It isn’t a lot and I would be willing to bet that many of the people who are not rich politicians who complain the most about safety net programs don’t even earn $50K/year.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on poverty” has turned into a war on people who live in poverty. The focus on what poor people get detracts from other ways the government spends the taxpayer dollars and the ways government enables the rich to get richer. 424207_278582278875736_171609283_nThe focus needs to be on what is keeping people poor, not the programs designed to help them out while they are poor.  You don’t want to your dollars going to support poor people? Then advocate and work towards making things better for poor people.

The attack on single mother who have children and are receiving government support is particularly upsetting to me. “Why should I have to pay for someone else’s bad choices? “, I was queried one day. “If you can’t afford children, don’t have them.”

It must be a comfortable place to be that you can wrap how life works up so neatly. There’s no margin for error, no speedbumps in life that complicate plans. Having children isn’t a good choice for everyone but those people usually don’t retain custody of their children.  For everyone else who chose to have a child, the circumstances happened in their life leading up to,during, or after the birth of that child don’t offer valid proof to that decision being a bad choice.

Things happen and the group of people least likely to have a means to have a back-up plan to save their ass is women who made the choice to be a mother. Divorces happen. Women flee domestic violence. Partners die. Women are more likely to have left the workforce to care for the children they chose to have under secure circumstances and then be left with nothing when things go badly. Women are less likely to have a college degree and be able to get a living wage job. The daycare situation in the U.S is atrocious and accountability for deadbeat parents ordered to pay child support is ridiculous.70% of the poorest people on the planet are women.  Don’t vilify women who have children to support. We haven’t exactly created a sustainable system that works for them.

The safety net in place does not give people an excuse to languish in poverty and living off the government dime. Trust me… no one is languishing in poverty.  The Almighty Taxpayers need to stop believing the myths perpetrated by uninformed jerks who have prejudices about poor people. Before welfare reforms, it was more likely that people stayed at a status quo within the system. Languishing is not the right word. Existing would be more appropriate. These days, there are limits to how long a person can receive assistance without documentation of a disability. If a person is unemployed, they have to either get a job or enroll in school or job training. There is no infinite food stamps for someone who doesn’t work and getting TANF (cash assistance) is damned near impossible. A lot of criticisms made about the welfare system are spoken by people who have no clue what the actual rules are that recipients need to comply with.

The safety net helps people while they are struggling and gives support until they get out of the crappy situation they’re in. That’s what those programs do. They don’t enable people. They don’t take taxpayer money to pay for other people’s “bad choices”. Everyone makes choices that make life difficult in some respects and every single person deserves the chance and ability to be helped during the bad times.

The alternative is that we just let people become homeless and starve. I think if you advocate for that, you’ve lost the right to call yourself a human being. If you’re making $50,000 a year, just quietly let go of that $36 as a token of your humanity.

Mean People Suck Monday: Adam Carolla ,some dumb economist guy,Bill O’Reilly, an employee at a Plaid Pantry in Oregon & some other jerks in Portland

I was going to have a Jerkface of the Week thing but some weeks, it seems like there are way too many jerkfaces out there saying mean things about poor people to choose just one and it would be SO wrong to deny the prize to every single one of them. Here’s my compromise.images

→Some douchebag at a Plaid Pantry store in Oregon publicly embarrassed and shamed a customer using an EBT card because she was buying snacky stuff - Discrimination comes with food stamp snacks

→Bill O’Reilly called food stamp recipients ‘parasites’ who take all they want without remorse. – video

→Adam Carolla was on food stamps growing up and thinks the judging that went with it was awesome because the shame made people want to get of it (yet used his own mother as an example as to how people become dependent and never get off of it. Huh) And Laura Ingraham said she wished it was still called food stamps and not SNAP because SNAP sounds nice and doesn’t have the same negative connotation that food stamps used to. Then she said that people shouldn’t buy soda and junk with SNAP and they both had a good laugh over making up a Taxpayer’s Shopping List that dictates limited things food stamp recipients can buy. Such a hoot. Laura made herself sound even stupider when she stated that you can use the card to get cash back and go buy a 40. Um, no you can’t. -audio


→Oh, Douglas Holtz. This guy says that if we raise the minimum wage, employers are just going to give those higher wage jobs to children of affluent people like himself.  Because affluent people children deserve to be hired before kids of poor people?
The unemployment rate among teenagers is a serious issue in America, I guess? He is totally out of touch with Americans who are working at minimum wage supporting themselves and dependents. He sees no problem with major corporations paying starvation wages to workers while their CEOs rake in the profits.

→ I posted this picture on the Facebook page last week…

These flyers are circulating in Portland. Just before the last election, I became familiar with a group of tea party types who believe anyone receiving benefits such as SNAP should not be allowed to vote. The logic(fail) behind this is if you receive assistance, you are going to vote for the candidate who is not going to cut your benefits. Never mind that Republican controlled areas tend to have the highest government assistance. The author of this particular message seems to be insinuating that only disabled people should receive assistance?

This whole thing pisses me off. The “taxpayers” get to decide eligibility based on appearances? And then what? They let the person starve?

-link to news story