A few thoughts on food stamp challenges…. #SNAP #Poverty

In my drafts, I have a long and still unfinished piece devoted to the pros and cons of people taking food stamp challenges. I’ve touched on key points here before but the subject deserves an indepth examination. Spoiler: There is one pro and eight different points that are cons.
Maybe some day I’ll finish that post I started. Right now, I’m juggling a lot and haven’t had time to write, so for now, I want to share some thoughts from people who share my frustration with SNAP / food stamp challenges for some of the same reasons.

The discussion was regarding this via think-progress: (but I found it via one of my favorite tumblrs Ask a Welfare Caseworker )

Members of Congress are living off food stamps for a week to protest Republican cuts. It’s a challenge for them, but GOP cuts would hurt millions of everyday Americans. 

carmanitaknits:

 I want a reality tv show where politicians have to live in poverty for a month. They have to live in Government housing, shop with food stamps, and get only a limited amount of money for clothes. Because here, they still have all their trappings, lilke nice cars and thousand dollar suits. I want them in Walmart jeans trying to determine if they can afford a carton of milk.

 

fuck-me-barnes:

Give them a full calendar year. I want to see them confident in January, and sometime around June choking back tears at the Safeway because they are tired, so tired, of eating 25 cent cup noodles, eyeing other peoples’ full grocery carts with a dull bewilderment.

Let me see them despair because they have a persistent nagging cough that won’t go away and might be turning into pneumonia but the minute clinic is $60, which might as well be as six million dollars, either way they ain’t got it to spare – and that doesn’t count the cost of prescriptions. Let me hear them tell people about the muscle cramps they get at night due to eating non-nutritious garbage for months, the weakness from persistent hunger.

Let them know the shame and frustration of only owning one pair of cheap polyester pants for work and one pair of thrift-store jeans, and both persistently have ripped crotches and seams coming undone, no matter how many times they get sewn back up.

Let the women know the particular sort of despair that comes once a month when you can’t afford even the cheapest pads or tampons.

Let them understand the frustration of being charged a $35 fee for a $2 overdraft. Let them watch as the bank holds charges from different days in “pending” till they all come through on the same day, and the bank charges them four times for a single overdraft because “the charges all cleared at the same time”.

I want them to know the particular pain of having to decide between food for the week, or transportation costs to and from work. You can’t have both. Choose wisely.

You do not truly understand poverty until you’ve lived it and a month isn’t enough to encompass it. Not even close.

onemuseleft:

I have $7000 in medical bills this year because I let something go untreated for nine years because I couldn’t afford it. When I broke my hand I refused to go to the doctor because I couldn’t afford it – it wasn’t until my manager swore up and down that worker’s comp would cover it that I even considered going – and there were pieces of bone sticking out of my hand. I once walked on a broken foot for a year. A year. Because my boss wouldn’t let me have the time off to let it heal properly and my job required being on my feet for 8+hours a day. And that fucking foot kept starting to heal and then re-fracturing all over again. Spaghetti makes me sick to my stomach because I ate it every fucking day for months on end because pasta and tomato sauce are CHEAP, but there was no meat and no veggies, so it didn’t really do me any good.

Sometimes I buy things I don’t need just to prove to myself that I can. And sometimes I go crazy and buy bags of things for the homeless shelter and the food bank because Jesus, do people need it and I have a little extra to spare now. Sometimes I hoard things, like soap and food and old clothes that I don’t like and will never wear again, because what if I need it in the future and can’t afford it?

Sometimes I remember being so poor that my power was turned off and my bank account was negative and I had nothing in the kitchen but ramen noodles and canned beans and god only knew how I was going to scrape together $475 to pay the rent on my shitty apartment and the lingering stress makes me start to cry.

Rice for a whole winter, except weekends when my boyfriend came down and took me out, and margarine—forget butter—for it only rarely, so I couldn’t eat white rice for forty years.  Pasta and soup with maybe a burger on payday as my only meat.  No dental work, so my teeth are an ongoing trainwreck.  Living in one-room studio apartments in residential hotels for a decade because we couldn’t afford a real apartment or utilities.  And yes to all the bank crap.

I want the Congresscritters to live through a year of THAT before they vote on programs for the poor.

tamorapierce:

This is why I can’t stand people taking the SNAP challenge.
You don’t know the reality. You don’t come away with true empathy for people living the reality. And you still don’t listen to people living the reality.

Lunchtime Links: 16 ways to eat dandelion greens, homemade ramen?, and impromptu meal “planning”

Everything food related for today…

 

Hell,yes, DANDELIONS. I may have mentioned this already(?) but I’ve been studying to become a certified herbalist. Herbalists love dandelions. They’re great for cleaning toxins from your system (good for your liver)  but also very handy for relieving pains, especially arthritic type. They’re an anti-inflammatory, a good astringent for your skin…. and they can actually be tasty.

My grandma used to just put them in a salad. That was about as fancy as she got but here are 16 Ways To Eat (or drink) Dandelions. Can’t wait to make the jelly. The dandelion root “coffee” is how you also would make a dandelion root tea but if it feels better to call it coffee, go for it .

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Ramen Made From Scratch

Make your own ramen for less than the cost of ramen – All  you need a pasta maker and 30 minutes ….plus the 2-5 waiting time while the dough rests.

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My Love for Local Food Is a Reasonable Defense for Not Planning Meals Ahead – I can relate to this and as someone who is low income, it’s the most practical , especially in the summer time. Garden shares, roadside stands, discounted produce at the grocery store because of abundance, farmer’s market deals… these are all things that I jump at the chance to score and whatever I score, that’s what’s on the menu.

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Lunchtime Links: Growing Cities, Healthy Recipes Database, and Hacked Shakshuka

All the foodie related stuff for today…

I have been so excited to see this since I first saw the trailer last Fall. Now the film is available for community screenings , so check out the showings to see if there are any near you.

 

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The Capital Area Foodbank has a great recipe database…. all healthy, mostly vegetarian,too.

Healthy Recipe Database

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well, I didn’t know what Shakshuka was before (it’s basically poached eggs in tomato sauce) but it sounds delicious and with this hack, using cans of ro-tel could make it pretty cheap and easy. I’m all about cheap and easy.

 

Five Ingredient Yum: Shakshuka Hack

 

shakshuka

via Food Riot.

Slow Cooker Taco Bowls

via  Budget Bytes

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you already know I’m going to suggest skipping the chicken entirely and either substitute extra black beans or add another kind of bean,too. This shaves even more money from the recipe but also, many readers have mentioned that they wish they could buy more ethical or organic meat but just can’t afford it. Me,too. My way around this is just to not buy it at all and eat a mostly vegetarian diet (which has turned out to save a lot of money. Bonus!)

If you have time, I always recommend using dry beans. A bag of dried beans goes further than a can.

 

Budget Bytes says this recipe works out to be $1.33 per serving. It makes 9 servings, so if you’re not using that all for one meal, freeze the rest for another quick freezer meal.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. chicken breasts $2.90
  • 1 (16 oz.) jar salsa $1.99
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained $1.19
  • ½ lb. (8 oz.) frozen corn $0.57
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder $0.15
  • ½ Tbsp cumin $0.07
  • ½ Tbsp minced garlic $0.10
  • ½ tsp dried oregano $0.03
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • to taste cracked pepper $0.02
  • 2 cups dry rice $0.66
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar $2.49
  • ½ bunch cilantro (optional) $0.45
Instructions
  1. Add everything except the rice, cheese, and cilantro to the slow cooker along with ¼ cup of water (for good measure). Give everything a good stir and make sure the chicken is covered in the mixture.
  2. Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hrs.
  3. Near the end of the cooking time, cook the two cups of rice according to the package directions (Bring the rice and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot with a lid in place, as soon as it reaches a boil, reduced the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving).
  4. After 8 hours of cooking, carefully remove the lid of the slow cooker. Stir with a fork to shred the chicken (it should be super tender and will shred easily). Build the taco bowls by placing rice on the bottom, then the taco chicken mix, shredded cheese and fresh cilantro.

Lunchtime Links: Using up potato water and cabbge (2 separate things),making rice cool,and more.

A round-up of today’s food related things…

Ohhh,man…. Chilli Cheese Tater Tots. I probably would use beans instead of the beef.

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Use it Up: Potato Water – How to recycle the water you boiled taters in…use it for other food or water your plants with it.

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How do I make rice more interesting? – This is a reader-submitted question over at The Kitchn but I’m asked this a lot ,too. The editor has some good suggestions but the comments sections is full of ideas. Yes, I’m telling you to read the comments. Might be the only time I ever do that…

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You know how I’m always complaining about the repetitive budget shopping tips lists (that often have some WTF Tips,ya know?) …and “budget meals” that are like my whole budget for a week?  Next-Level Tips for Saving Money on Your Grocery Bill
S
atire,my friends.
(And yes, I still DO advocate foraging and freeganism…. like, if you’re not trespassing or going to get arrested for it. Poor people can’t afford none of that nonsense)

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 28 Recipes to Celebrate Spring – Spring! I am so excited. The best thing about cooking w/ seasonal ingredients is that they are often less expensive when in season.

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I still have some cabbage to use up from that whole Corned Beef & Cabbage affair. Might try the cabbage salad idea ~here~

 

ICYMI: Food & Clothing Swaps, food bank pizza,building a greenhouse from plastic bottles….

Backgrounds_Bright_green_background_035524_ (1)

 

Recipes &  Food Budgeting Tips

Healthy Eating on a Budget – Week 4 – There’s 5 weeks of “budget” meal menus to look at here. I *think* this is for one person. Week 4 looks like it was the least expensive – $38, still more than a food stamp budget but maybe could still be done if you get lucky at the food bank. It’s still worth looking thru and adapting a few meal ideas to fit your own needs. I’m just always looking for inexpensive meal ideas that don’t involve beans and rice. Not every poor person likes beans & rice, so I like to present variety.

March Food and Product Swap- “Swap It Chicago is a food and product exchange that takes place every month in Chicago. We gather monthly to exchange our homemade goodies–there is no money exchanged and the event is FREE for those who register.”

Your Fridge: You’re Using It Wrong- How to store fruits & veggies to extend shelf life.

 

 

Hey,now…this is fancy. Where’d they get that pepperoni!?
(But seriously…food bank English muffins, the canned sketti sauce, and some commod cheese… good-enough-pizza)

DIY & Frugal Living

The streets of San Francisco are lined with pear , plum and apple trees thanks to ‘guerilla grafters’ secretly grafting fruit-bearing scions onto ornamental, non-fruit bearing trees making fresh fruit free and available to everyone who wishes to pick some.| Food Warrior Network  – Guerrilla Grafters !

Swap Positive -“The idea behind Swap Positive is to offer and get free clothes, forever. No money changes hands with these clothes ~ even if you get them home and decide they aren’t quite `you’, we ask that you GIVE them away to someone. That is the mission of Swap Positive.”

 Build a Greenhouse Using Plastic Bottles- If you’re thinking about building a greenhouse and need material cost to be low, here ya go.

#[word of the day] #FAsupportsnutrition #SNAPfood : Choice | @feedingamerica

Feeding America has a Photo A Day Challenge happening for March for  National Nutrition Month. This was what I decided to go with for CHOICE.

 

choice

 

It’s just rice. Plain white rice.

Brown rice is better nutritionally. All of us in our family prefer brown rice. It just isn’t in our budget. We could choose to buy brown rice but that choice would mean giving up another food from our shopping list.

I’m ok with white rice. It’s better than no rice at all. There was another time in my life I had rice but I had to make a choice whether or not to pick the bugs out of it or leave them in. Extra protein,right? I chose to pick them out but I’m certain I didn’t catch them all.  At least they were only teeny maggoty things and not one giant, live and wriggling one, like something a Survivor contestant would have to eat. They were cooked. I probably needed the protein, anyway.

ICYMI: Lots of low income & food stamp budget friendly recipe links

A round up of the stuff you may have missed this past week.

 

Food & Recipes

How to get kids to eat vegetables | No Ordinary Homestead -I used to be a pre-school teacher. One of the things I found thru my own experience teaching as well as raising my own children is that if kids participate in cooking & growing the food, they are much more likely to eat it.
And not surprisingly, tons of research confirms

Social Supermarkets -“In a nutshell, Social Supermarkets are markets that take surplus from other stores {items that are about to expire, are dented, mislabeled, etc.} and sell them at significant discounts to patrons who need some sort of economic assistance, instead of tossing them into the trash.”

Real Food Recipes to Replace Your Favorite Junk Foods – how to transform your fave “junky” recipes to real food ones. My tip: Don’t be intimidated by recipes that call for ingredients you’ve never heard or can’t find in your area. I’m an experienced cook and I had to google what an ingredient was yesterday lol
Totally use goggle when you are trying to find a substitute for an ingredient that is too expensive or hard to find.
(For example: Peanut butter or Sun Butter is a pretty decent sub for tahini)

25 Easy Crock Pot Dessert Recipes – Mmmmm, desserts.

100+ 30 Minute (or less) Meal Ideas for the Busy Cook | Love Bakes Good Cakes -Quick,easy…and a lot of them look pretty frugal,too.

Freezer Friendly | Well Rounded NY -budget friendly.

Frugality Gal: $1 Dinner: Super Cheap Meal to Make for a Lazy Night – It’s a group turkey-macaroni dish. Total cost $1.15 (her onions & peps were free,though)

90 Meals For $1.25 Per Serving (or Less!) – Daily Deals Blog – I was so confused because I scrolled down to the bottom and only saw 30. There’s 30 recipes for each meal.

1 Organic Chicken, 22 Healthy Meals, $49 Bucks  – There were skeptics when I posted this on my social media. I’ll have to experiment with it myself, maybe after the hollerdaze.

Secret Freegan scored all this food to donate to a teen shelter. Otherwise, it would be slated for trash.

 

 

Thrifty Living & DIY

A Thrifted and Thrifty Gifts Discussion: You Giving Thrifted Gifts? + Gift Wrap Ideas -I’m a big fan of thrifted giving. It’s about the only kind I do. Well, besides handmade.

5 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season –           I like this list for several reasons. Mindful donations, caring for people and the planet, and practical things nearly everyone can do.
I was happy to see Treecycling. I collect them from the neighborhood & drag them into the woods. #goofypaganlady

 Literacy Launchpad: 20 Places to Find Free Children’s Books Online – A good resource for families w/ Internet connection at home but can’t make it to the library when they’re open to take out actual books.

25 Ways to Naturally Clean with Salt ~ * THE COUNTRY CHIC COTTAGE  – Non-toxic. Cheap. And you can use food stamps to buy it. It works,too. I had coffee stains on my counter and salt totally worked.

Articles & Thoughts

Iowa wants its poor to give up smoking and drinking to qualify for Medicaid – “A single person at 50 percent of the poverty line makes less than $500 per month. That’s obviously not someone who can afford even a nickel in extra expenses. But that was the income level in Iowa’s initial application, which means that for all practical purposes the original goal of this program was to (a) deny government benefits to poor people who are smokers, drinkers, drug users, or overweight, but (b) provide the benefits if these poor people agree to fairly intrusive government monitoring that ensures they improve these behaviors.”

Study: Over 21 Million U.S. Households Can’t Afford Their Rent - yeah.

 

Activism & Awareness

Campaign Aims to Get Cell Phones to Survivors: Donations Wanted – If you have an old cell phone laying around, consider donating it to this program. They help domestic violence victims have a lifeline to help when they need it.

 

Transgender workers are nearly four times more likely than the population as a whole to have a household income of less than $10,000. It’s absolutely important to address how poverty and trans issues intersect. Check out http://transequality.org/ for more info.

When Drones Guard the Pipeline – Militarizing Fossil Fuels in the East By Winona LaDuke with Frank Molley.http://bit.ly/16cjzqz

Staff from the Chicago Bulls are spending the afternoon volunteering at the Food Depository! Thank you! They’re also fighting hunger with the Social Donation Plate. Check it out at www.thedonationplate.org.

 

How to Make Food Stamps Last Longer

How to Make Your Food Stamps Last Longer

How to Make Food Stamps Last Longer

All the best tips, consolidated into one post.

Personally, I rarely use coupons (as I think I’ve discussed elsewhere here and for sure on the Poor as Folk facebook page ) . It’s hard to find coupons for food things my family will use. I’ve found my time is better spent scouring  store specials and sticking to in season produce .Also, the store we usually shop at has excellent “Shopper’s Club” specials on their store brand that usually end up costing less than a non-store brand even with a manufacturer’s coupon.