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.

I made potato salad for a lot less than $60,000

potatosalad3

 

I have table-flipping-She-Hulk rage over that dude who raised at least $60,000 to make a damn potato salad. There was a 3 day period where I may have needed a trigger warning for talk of potato salad.

Which was sad because I really wanted to eat some potato salad. Since,you know, that’s about all I can eat these days and it sounded like a nice change from soup.

Over the weekend, we had salt potatoes for dinner. The next day, I used the leftovers to make what could only be described as Rage Against the Potato Salad Kickstarter Potato Salad. It was good with only a slight aftertaste of bitterness & rage.

It doesn’t take a genius or $60,000 to make tater salad. You take potatoes

potatosalad2

…cut ‘em into chunks. Maybe peel them first. Maybe not. Whatever.

Add some mayo, Dijon mustard,a splash of apple cider vinegar…some herbs (I like dill & lovage). Maybe even chop up some onions, if that’s what you’re into. I like hard boiled eggs in it,too.

potatosalad1

 

 

That’s it. How much of each? Who knows. I just throw it together until it looks like potato salad. Like I said, doesn’t take a genius. Or someone who has money. I made a huge bowl for probably about $3.00 or so.

I need a kickstarter for a new house with better lighting in the kitchen so my food photography doesn’t look like crap. This potato salad tasted better than it looked.
potatosalad4

 

So, now that I showed you how to make a decent potato salad for free, do me ONE favor:

If you have money to throw at a cause, please give it to people who need it and not someone who started a fundraiser as a joke.  If you don’t trust people on the Internet, go buy some potatoes and other good food to donate to your local food pantry. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

Lunchtime Links: Fire Escape Gardening, using Garlic Mustard Greens, and dealing with canned tomatoes

Some good things to pass along today.

 

Link→  17 Tips For Starting Your Own Herb Garden.

These are all great tips for small space gardening. The tip about buying seedlings versus seeds…might seem counterintuitive since seeds are less expensive but sometimes you have to do that.  do start everything from seed myself but it was a struggle this year to find adequate space. Cats & little kids don’t help.

 


What I Made Today shows how to use wild Garlic Mustard …the whole thing, leaves to roots. You probably have seen this stuff growing like crazy. I have a ton of it I am constantly pulling from the garden. Go ahead an eat it. It’s good stuff.
Link → Garlic Mustard Love


 

10 Biggest Brain Damaging Habits (and who is at risk)

via More Psychology Hacks Here – Life Hackable.

Almost all of this list of brain damaging habits are things more likely to affect people in poverty. I am so sorry for my redundancy at times but we really need to shift this focus off of weight issues  being the primary health concern among those in poverty and give more attention to brain health being the main concern.

1/ Giving children free breakfast in school dramatically increases their academic performance

2/ Many people who live with (or have lived with) food insecurity tend to overeat when they do have food because they don’t know where their next meal is coming from and it may have been a while since they had enough food. 

4/ Affordable foods that provide enough calories (especially in food deserts) are high in sugar.

5/ People in poor, non-white neighborhoods are exposed to more hazardous pollution. Low income housing overall tend to be in more polluted areas of cities.

6/ There’s a distinct link between poor sleep quality and poverty.

7/People sleep with their head covered when it’s cold because they can’t afford heat. (thank you, JW from the comments!)

8/ Poor people can’t afford to take time off work, even when they’re sick.

9/ Poverty depletes brain power 

10/ Poverty is socially isolating. 

 

Lunchtime Links: Stamp Out Hunger, lots of lentil recipes, and another study confirms stuff we know

My laptop is back. Thank the techy gods for buyer’s protection plans. They replaced the screen and it’s as good as new now.

So, back to things like Lunchtime Links!

Tomorrow is the annual Letter Carrier’s Food Drive, better known now as Stamp Out Hunger. On Saturday, May 10th, leave a plastic bag with canned and nonperishable food next to your mailbox. Your letter carrier will donate it to a local food bank.

If you don’t get mail delivery and still want to contribute, check out this list to find a food bank near you.

Does anyone see flyers for this in your own area? I never see anything here. I only know of this event because of social media and I go to my local post office nearly every day. Maybe I’m not aware since I don’t get home delivery?

Speaking of food banks…

via Sustainable Food Trust  -

Affordable healthy diet ‘too expensive for many

This isn’t news around these parts (meaning this part here of the blogosphere). We know that the need for food banks has increased. Eating healthy is really not something that some poor people CAN do.
Meanwhile,I can present studies and personal narratives every damn day ,all day long and I will still hear some people blame poor people for unhealthy eating “choices” ( saying choice implies there is more than one option) , fat-shaming poor people ignoring the “obesity-poverty paradox” and of course, saying poor people aren’t trying hard enough to do for themselves.

On the issue of “concern trolls” (people who raise “concerns” or non-helpful solutions about the things people do or act supposedly out of interest for the good of the people or cause at hand but who actually are working AGAINST what or who they claim to be advocating for, often ignoring the personal narratives and voices of people with the most experience )…. when it comes to the health and nutrition issues, weight is not the primary concern they need to be thinking about. From my perspective, brain health is the most important. Low income kids who don’t get the right food or enough of it can’t excel in school and tend to have more behavior problems. Obviously, the same is true for adults. Who can function well at a job when they’re hungry? Being hungry and not getting the right nutrition can literally make you pretty loopy and affect the way your brain works.

Hangry is a real thing.

 

Ok,enough of that.
How about some recipes? Lentils. Because it’s one thing people are like, “These were cheap but now what the hell do I do with them?”
This is a great list of recipes from Whole New Mom.

Lentil Collage Wmk

“Lentil-fy your life!”

Missing here is this thing my step-daughter makes (regional cuisine of Panama, where the step-kids grew up). Next time we Skype with her, I will ask her for the recipe.I tried to make it from memory but it wasn’t quite the same.
(I really love Skype. My step-daughter is living and going to school in Belgium right now. The other day, she took us on a live tour through her new town and showed us her container garden she has growing. That’s just SO cool,right?)

 

 

 

Ode to Quesadillas

 

I can pretty much put leftovers in a quesadilla and they’re going to be awesome.

We eat a lot of things in tortillas that are quesadilla-ish because 1) tortillas are cheap; 2. versatile; 3. free with WIC (not that we get WIC anymore but it was a perk.

And seriously…get creative. I wasn’t kidding about Leftover Quesadillas.

For anyone new to quesadilla making, here is a great tutorial on how to make them. How To Make Quesadillas

29 Life-Changing Quesadillas You Need To Know About.

 

via b00tiusmaximus

An Underground Farm WWII Air Raid Shelter Raises Thoughts About Future Food Production

This Land Is Your Land features an underground farm in London and focuses on the concerns about land & food production for the future.

The underground farm is built within the shelter of a former air raid shelter from 1944. Using artificial lighting (obviously) powered by wind turbines, the growers,Steve Dring and Richard Ballard,  produce veggies with an aquaponic system using reclaimed water. No soil required.

These guys are growing salad greens and veggies for profit and not as a community endeavor to feed people with food insecurity but their underground farm gives food for thought as to what the future of food production could look like as population rises and land shortages increase.

 

There’s a video of what the underground farm looks like here (I could not figure out for the life of me how to embed it here this morning)

I do think it’s important to think about future food production solutions but priority should be placed on fixing the current system first. When nearly half the food grown is wasted, focus needs to be on better efficiency in the system. Corporate interests & politicians not interested in humanity need to be prohibited from making legislation that blocks food from getting to zero income and low income families. The article quotes Eric Holt Gimenez from The Institute of Food and Development Policy as saying, ““Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity.” , a totally true statement that makes me wonder why the goal isn’t first to balance equality (which will also help control population growth ) . There’s weird emphasis in the article  on what GMO-seed developers can do on a small amount of land as an incentive to get behind the idea of GMOS (but thanks, NG, for disclosing that Syngenta pays for your advertising) and there’s ideas that don’t quite fit together …

all that to say that I love the idea of people growing food in abandoned spaces to fill the need for local food  and that I do hope the future of farming looks a lot like this.

 

 

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: Recipes for Novice Canners and FREE Non-GMO SEEDS!

Today’s round-up of food things.

Home canning basics from Attainable Sustainable.

Recipes for the Novice Canner  -the simplest ones to start with, with tips for beginners | via Attainable Sustainable

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 7 Common Kitchen Disasters and How To Avoid Them – Because avoiding food mistakes means less food waste which means saving money. I appreciate the blender tip. Mine has a missing top. I just use a lid from a storage bowl that’s slightly larger than the top of my blender and hold it there.

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Groundswell is giving away free non-GMO seeds. Here’s what you have to do to get some:

SIGN UP FOR HEALTHY SEEDS NOW!

How it Works

  1. Sign up to receive seeds and share the names of at least two friends or family members interested in receiving seeds as well.
  2. Groundswell sends you a packet of open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds from Sow True Seed, a locally-owned company based in Asheville, NC.
  3. By planting these seeds, you are supporting healthy seeds that can be saved and used to reproduce food year after year.
  4. After you have signed up to receive seeds, stay tuned! Below are different ways to connect to receive updates on the campaign from now through the end of April.

- See more at: http://www.groundswellinternational.org/seeds/#sthash.FCvmIxye.dpuf

 

ALSO …
Ann from Bohan Seeds  has very generously offered FREE veggie seeds to readers here. She says, “If you would be interested ,please check my site out but instead of ordering through the site just send email from site with what you want and I will do what I can to comply. Free of course. Please start your email with Poor As Folk so I will know.

Thank you so much, Ann!