My kids are bottomless pits…on a finite, food stamp budget

Groceries were bought and brought home the other day. $278.95 worth.

And this is what my kids were like.

At least one said, ” YES. Real food again!”
Makes me feel like crap every single time.
Our SNAP allowance never lasts from the 9th of the month to the 9th of the next month. I know that the program is in theory supposed to supplement your low budget, but seriously… most people use it as their whole food budget because  the money part of their budget is stretched as tight as Joan Rivers‘ face.

Food is the first thing you cut from the budget because it’s not like a grocery store manager is going to come bang on your door for not showing up to take food off his shelves and give him your money, and then come in and take the food you do have out of your cupboards and fridge. Landlords and utility companies make themselves a bit more pressing priority.

A few years ago, I read an article written by a nutritionist (which does not seem to be online anywhere) about the reasons poor people are fat, or as it is sometimes called, The Hunger-Obesity Paradox. There was a lot of reality in the reasons this nutritionist gave, which is a bit unusual from my experience. The analysis tends to be rather clinical, based on statistics instead of looking at how poor people really live,think, and feel.

Besides the usual reasons, it was this nutritionist’s opinion that poor people also have weight issues because they binge eat. They go for long periods of time without a lot of food or healthy kinds of food, so when they have it, they eat it and they make sure they eat a lot of it because you don’t know when you’re going to hit the mother lode of food again.

I see this happening in my house and it scares the hell out of me. My only solution is to make sure the food that is here in the house isn’t crap but the Catch-22 there is that it takes more of a healthy food to get the same amount of needed calories as some cheap, junky food with empty calories.

Like this morning … my constantly ravenously hungry  8 year old wanted a fruit salad for breakfast. I didn’t feel like making a fruit salad pre-coffee and he didn’t want to wait, so he said , “Fine. I’ll just eat the fruits and make the salad in my belly.” He ate a nectarine, a banana, and a plum, consecutively.  When he gets home from school today, he will try to do the same, and I will have to stop him at ONE piece of fruit and maybe some crackers until dinner because that’s how it has to be. This kid should be getting at least 1,800 calories a day. Ain’t no way he’s getting that.

I’ve been told that this kid of mine will go to school and eat his free breakfast after already eating at home. I tell him not to do this, even though I know that’s what the program is there for. He’s already eaten once. Does he really need to eat again?
It kills me to think about the other kids who don’t even get to eat at home and still don’t have the option of eating at school,either.

Today is the 19th. We have about 3 weeks left until our next Food Stamp Day and here’s what our balance looks like after getting groceries.

Maybe I should have ironed it before taking a picture
Maybe I should have ironed it before taking a picture

I sound like Bob the Builder every month about this time, “Can we make it? YES, WE CAN!”
Um, yeah.
Not always.


Updated to add: Our monthly amount is $600 for a family of 7.

9 thoughts on “My kids are bottomless pits…on a finite, food stamp budget

  1. I know it’s not the point of the post but….why do you tell him not to eat the free breakfast? I’ve been very poor, but didn’t know how to go about getting help. I have a year of my life where most of my memories are lost in a haze of hunger. And it’s probably one of the reasons I am fat now that I have a good income, but I can’t help thinking that if you are hungry and free food is available, you eat it. What am I missing?

    1. You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t tell him not to.
      I usually feed him at home because there’s very little time for him to eat breakfast at school before he has to get to his classroom (and he’s a world class dawdler). He’s eaten once and still trying to eat again…I have to wonder if he’s feeling the effects of worrying about not having enough food and that’s what it’s more about? I just don’t know.

      1. I don’t know – my oldest is about the same age, has never gone hungry, has an endocrine disorder that restricts his growth, is skinny as hell, and can eat, and eat, and eat…

        Since I didn’t grow up with brothers, what boys can consume has been…shocking.

  2. I can’t imagine if my kids were older and we were on food stamps. Right now we are and they are young so it is not as big of a deal but even my 2 year old can pack away the food at times. There will be better times ahead for us all though!

  3. I disagree with much if this article. And trust me, I’ve been there and an still there. You can feed your family well on a budget even if it means keeping a tighter rein on what they, as in, they may not get to eat what they prefer but it will be heathy. There are so many things you can make for much less. I’ll use hummus as an example. You can make the equivalent of what would cost you nearly $10 at the store for about $2 at home. There are so many options like this. I feed my family of 5 on a tighter budget than you could imagine and it’s high quality, mostly organic food. It can be done, but it’s taken me years to get it figured out this far. My point is that it can be done, the calories can be met, real quality calories will keep your family full longer and that will put the biggest dent in the budget. And take advantage of all the free meals if you can. No reason not to 🙂

    1. Ok, I think you’re trying to leave a helpful comment here and I appreciate that but this isn’t an article, this is my personal experience right now. It’s not really something you can agree or disagree with. it just is what it is. I used to teach low income families how to eat well on a small budget. My know-how isn’t the issue here. I am continually sharing tips with readers here and elsewhere thru social media how to make small funds stretch. I think people deserve to know that even someone like me who knows HOW to do it…i still struggle.

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