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: Food Stamp enrollment declining,freezing food safely…. + + +

Media preview Hey, this might be good news? Enrollment in SNAP has started to drop. (But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about how GOP reps wanting to emulate California’s success in discouraging enrollment to many eligible low income people.… )


Five Things To Know About Freezing Foods Safely

Safe prep for freezing, safe thawing…and the freezing food things you need to know. This info comes in handy when you hit a cheap produce bounty. Sorry I can’t do more to help with freezer space. Maybe some TARDIS magic to make it bigger on the inside?


Media preview Awesome urban gardening shot by @corneliadlabaja via



Becoming a water wise gardener is . . . GardenWise! Tips on conserving water pottsmerc.com/lifestyle/2014…

I was thinking about all of you gardeners out there with water issues the other day when watering my garden. We save rain water but sometimes even that doesn’t cut it. Grateful we don’t have a water shortage and that we don’t have to pay a water bill. Here’s hoping this year isn’t too droughty or too floody for us all.

I leave you with some relevant music… This is on my Homestead Mix playlist. Came on while writing this post, so figured I should share.

Today’s Reads: Basically, a round-up of jerky people

I guess maybe it’s good to consolidate all the mean people into one post. Keep the hate contained a bit.

Yes, talk of Donald Sterling’s racism is totally relevant here. Long before the audio of his racist comments came to light, he was a racist who was sued by the federal government on more than one occasion for discriminating against blacks & latinos by refusing to rent housing to them. Structural racism like this contributes to inequality. I don’t want to rehash what happened and why it was wrong. I just have things to say to some of the reactions supporting Sterling.

Such as:  “No one should have their property stripped away and have to pay money because someone was offended by something they said!” – Stop acting like Sterling is the one being oppressed here. At the end of the day, he’s still a billionaire and a racist. He’s going to be fine but if not, I’m sure he can go work on Clive Bundy’s ranch.
My point is, this lifetime ban from the NBA, fines, and probably being forced to sell the Clippers is not going to impact this man in the same way he can impact others. The NBA held him accountable for racist words but who is going to hold him accountable for discriminatory practices in his other business ventures and daily life?

Apologists need to just stop worrying. That rich white dude is going to be ok.

djline

 

Paul Ryan won’t let poor people testify at hearing about poverty. This is a SSDD thing.
You can read Tianna Gaines-Turner’s testimony here , what she would have said if real live poor people could have said some words.

And again, can someone explain why PAUL RYAN is the one holding a hearing on poverty?

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We’ve probably all seen this meme floating around faceboob. The first time I saw it, it was posted by the dad of one of my kids’ classmates. I have no filter sometimes, so I left him a comment asking him, “Do you think of my family as wild animals? We get food stamps.”
His answer was… “Of course not YOU! I mean those other people.”
My answer to this is always,”If you can recognize that I’M not the stigma you have in your head representing food stamp recipients, then why is it so hard to imagine that your entire narrative about poor people on food stamps is wrong?”

All of this aside…. and not really looking to “debunk” the faults in this meme right now…
This screenshot is of a South Dakota GOP Senate candidate’s Facebook post.

SD peeps, do not let this person be voted into office.

 

If Walmart paid their employees fair wages, how much would they have to raise prices?

READ MORE: http://slate.me/1j6hRyo

In the series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark traces how big-box stores make billions from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps. What’s more, the wages of many workers at these stores are so low that the workers themselves qualify for food stamps—which the employees then often spend at those big-box stores.

This video crunches the numbers on how much Walmart, the single biggest beneficiary of the food stamp economy, might have to raise prices across the board to help a typical worker earn a living wage.

A note on methodology: Eligibility for food stamps varies according to income, number of dependents, and other factors. This estimate of Walmart’s potential cost from raising wages is based on wages for a Walmart employee with one dependent working 30 hours a week, a typical retail worker based on federal data.

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.

3.25.14: The Republicans want MORE food stamp cuts

News,thoughts, and going-ons…

 

The Republicans have the balls to be asking for more cuts to SNAP. Yes,really.

In this 5 minute segment, Bernie Sanders lays out the picture of poverty in the U.S. right now and the insanity of the Republican party’s agenda. “It’s ugly”, he says. There isn’t a better way to put it. Inequality is widening and the immoral Right just push their class warfare deeper and deeper.

Al Sharpton  touches on the gross suggestions that poor kids work for their free lunch ,too.

These people are so disgusting. They purposefully are causing the media vilification of poor people. They actually pay trolls to create the focus on blaming the poor and distract from the true issues. 10 red states are also the poorest and have the most people who need food stamps.

I just can’t even….

djline

 

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Tell it, Prof.

via one-mandrinkinggamess

djline

 

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Rising inequality forever? Thomas Piketty’s sweeping account of the “central contradiction of capitalism” nyr.kr/1dp847C
I
t’s a long read but worth it. An excerpt:

Piketty believes that the rise in inequality can’t be understood independently of politics. For his new book, he chose a title evoking Marx, but he doesn’t think that capitalism is doomed, or that ever-rising inequality is inevitable. There are circumstances, he concedes, in which incomes can converge and the living standards of the masses can increase steadily—as happened in the so-called Golden Age, from 1945 to 1973. But Piketty argues that this state of affairs, which many of us regard as normal, may well have been a historical exception. The “forces of divergence can at any point regain the upper hand, as seems to be happening now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century,” he writes. And, if current trends continue, “the consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying.”

In the nineteen-fifties, the average American chief executive was paid about twenty times as much as the typical employee of his firm. These days, at Fortune 500 companies, the pay ratio between the corner office and the shop floor is more than two hundred to one, and many C.E.O.s do even better. In 2011, Apple’s Tim Cook received three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars in salary, stock, and other benefits, which was sixty-two hundred and fifty-eight times the wage of an average Apple employee. A typical worker at Walmart earns less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year; Michael Duke, the retailer’s former chief executive, was paid more than twenty-three million dollars in 2012. The trend is evident everywhere. According to a recent report by Oxfam, the richest eighty-five people in the world—the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim—own more wealth than the roughly 3.5 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population.

Eventually, Piketty says, we could see the reëmergence of a world familiar to nineteenth-century Europeans; he cites the novels of Austen and Balzac. In this “patrimonial society,” a small group of wealthy rentiers lives lavishly on the fruits of its inherited wealth, and the rest struggle to keep up. For the United States, in particular, this would be a cruel and ironic fate. “The egalitarian pioneer ideal has faded into oblivion,” Piketty writes, “and the New World may be on the verge of becoming the Old Europe of the twenty-first century’s globalized economy.”

What are the “forces of divergence” that produce enormous riches for some and leave the majority scrabbling to make a decent living? Piketty is clear that there are different factors behind stagnation in the middle and riches at the top. But, during periods of modest economic growth, such as the one that many advanced economies have experienced in recent decades, income tends to shift from labor to capital. Because of enmeshed economic, social, and political pressures, Piketty fears “levels of inequality never before seen.”

djlineEven NASA is concerned that the rising inequality gap

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system

 

Now excuse me while I go pack my bug-out bag and go hole up in the woods.

 

Revisiting the affordability of “Grow your own food!” ….

[previously on this topic : “Why “Grow your own food!” might not be so easy for poor people” ,Part 1 & Part 2 . Also: The Privilege of Real Food ]

 

My friend Amanda was nice enough to share this photo of her sweet new backyard mini-homestead .

Here’s what Amanda had to say about this:

So. Telling poor people to grow their own food. Nine chickens $55, coop $255, gardening soil which I mixed with 50% Florida dirt aka sand $15 on sale at Lowe’s. Three large bins (I had the others and I know people think I shouldn’t use plastic) 2 bell pepper plants, 2 zucchini, 2 cuke, 2 cantaloupe, 2 basil, 1 each oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill $91 all from walmart. I’ve got $150 in feeding/caring for the chickens so far as I had to buy feeders/waterers. I’ve ordered fancy ones now, but that cost is only the basic plastic ones I started with. The kind you refill by hand every day from tractor supply. I can’t expect eggs til June/July. I had on hand: a drill (tub drainage holes), shovel, truck to move things, easy outdoor water access, garden hose and space. Unless someone has easy access to basically all that stuff for free, there’s no way even feeding the chickens seems worth it if we are looking it at this like the “food stamp police” do. I’m in love with my little side yard, but as I’ve been working on it I’ve been very aware that there is NO WAY IN HELL I could have done this when we were on SNAP. Also, that low fence is needed to keep the dogs from stressing out the chickens and peeing on my plants. It was the cheapest option that would work for my big dog and was $85. That total space is roughly 17′ square.

I forgot the $80 in concrete from the trench I dug and filled with quickcrete to hopefully avoid that) or some virus or the plants die…. I mean, it’s in no way a sure thing (as y’all know)

 

I am so frustrated that I have to have this same conversation over and over again about poor people and gardening. It blows my mind when someone shares their story of food insecurity right now,real time ,”There is no food in my house”-stories and the best words someone can offer is, “You should start a garden.”

Right. Because when you literally have NO money to buy food, you can go buy seeds/plants, gardening tools,dirt,etc etc etc. And then when do you get to eat? I mean…if you even have a place to grow stuff. “But you can buy seeds and plants with food stamps!” Uh,yeah….you can but when you’re trying to budget $1.25 per meal because that’s all the food stamps you have for a month, you’re not going to add seeds to your budget.

I’ve had this conversation enough (at least once a week for the past 2 years, I swear) to know that the counter-argument is that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. Well, right. It can be inexpensive but that’s usually if you’re been doing it for awhile and have accessibility to some things that make it easier.

I just like to reiterate all this because it’s important for people to acknowledge this is not a solution to hunger for everyone. If you’re a fan of growing it yourself, think outside your own box before telling a poor person to grow their own food. Maybe ask some starter questions. “Is it possible for you to garden?” If no, don’t be pushy. That person knows the reasons they can’t garden. All of your suggestions is not going to make their situation any different. It’s just going to make them feel like crap.

I mean,dude…that one time I wrote about having no food and weighing 85 pounds? Someone actually said : “If only you had a garden.” When I said I wasn’t able to then, they told me, “If you’re hungry enough,you’ll make it happen.” For real.
I lived in a basement apartment underneath a liquor store with a parking lot as my “yard”. If only I had the magic of the fairies or whatever those things were in Fern Gully!  But honestly, it’s an incredibly insulting thing to suggest that maybe I wasn’t hungry enough or maybe I should have tried harder and I just wouldn’t have been hungry.

Now, if someone says “yes” to the “Can you garden?” question… ask them what they need. Do they need seeds? Do they need book recommendations? Do they need advice?  Do they need money for gardening tools? Are they close enough that you can lend them tools or supplies or even some actual physical help?

If they can ,support and encourage that. If they can’t leave them the hell alone and start looking around your own community to see what can be done to foster a better local food system for poor,disabled, and elderly people living there.

 

Leftover Makeover: Corned Beef & Cabbage turned into White Bean & Potato Soup

Sometimes leftovers are great for lunch the next day or a Leftover Night. Sometimes they need a makeover. Especially with bigger than average families where what’s leftover isn’t enough to feed everyone.

This week, I was talked into making Corned Beef and Cabbage for dinner because “it’s what we ate on St. Patrick’s Day when I was a kid!”, said my nostalgic and traditionalist husband. It’s kinda my job to hate everything that everyone else seems to love, and St Patrick’s Day is no exception, as much as I love apocalyptic visions. But I love my husband and hate to hear him whimper about missing out on some food thing, so I made his damned beloved Corned Beef and Cabbage.
(seriously, it’s not even Irish….)

There a bunch of things that can be done to recycle braising liquid into a new dish but soup seemed like a good idea (see my past post about my teeth.Whee.)

I tend to go to my pantry first before running out to buy something specific for a recipe, so that day I happened to have a partial bag of potatoes that were looking sad and DSC_0556begging to be used. I also have 22 lbs of assorted dried beans in my pantry (it’s quite possible that food insecurity has made me a paranoid food hoarder, which might explain why I get along so well with the Doomsday Prepper crowd ), so I decided to add some Great Northern Beans.
Good thrifty score on those recently at my local dollar store…. 75¢ per bag, which is half price.

So, here’s what I did: Threw all the liquid and the leftover veggies from the corned beef back into the crockpot, chunked up potatoes, and added the beans after quick soaking them . I added just enough water to cover the beans and everything else, which also helped dilute some of the saltiness. Threw in some typical herbage… oregano,garlic,a little lovage.  Set temp for 6 hours on high. That was it. I didn’t really even have to add cornstarch as a thickener at all.

DSC_0573

Not too much broth in my bowl because I like it that way. It was dee-lish. Fed the whole family plus enough leftover for lunches for the hubby the rest of the week.

ICYMI: Jon Stewart’s food stamp hater take-down, Daily Affirmations for the Revolutionary Proletarian Militant, not-so-new news about food banks shortages, and other stuff.

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Sooooo muchneed to be writing about here and so little time to do it all. Until then, here’s other stuff people have writing and news that happened over the past week or so.

 

Meh. I had decided to bullet point this and now the formatting is a bit wonky, but I don’t have time to fix it right now. Apologies.

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

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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.