new food stamp amount: $221/month for a family of 5

We reapplied for food stamps at the end of May and finally got a decision this week. We were denied but then also approved in the same decision. Because I’m self-employed, they said the amount I made in May put us over the qualifying limit by $87 but then averaged the past 3 months of my income as a guideline of what I might typically make and that put us under the limit.

The other thing that changed is they do not include our twins on our SNAP case because they are full time college students who are not employed at least 20 hours a week yet. So, we’re on paper a family of five but I’m still buying groceries for a family of seven.

I’m confused about some of the rules for when someone is going to college. I was told by one person that if the twins are working at least 20 hrs/week this summer ,then they can be included on our SNAP case but then someone else told me that yes, BUT their income will also count as household income and that would probably put us over the qualifying limit. I’m guessing the latter is how that actually works.

Anyway, as it stands now we were approved finally and our amount will be $221 a month. That’s just short of 2 weeks of groceries for us. The USDA “Thrifty Family Meal Plan” guidelines say we should be spending about $970 for our family size per month but my food budget has been about half that for the past 6 months, sometimes even lower. It’s totally impossible without going to the food pantry every other week.

On the gardening front, things are slow but happening. We’re in a drought-like spell. I have no hose hookup at this house and I’m watering the garden by hauling jugs from inside the house. It takes forever and it’s not the same as a good soaking rain. Fortunately we know people who know how to do things and a friend is going to put a hose hookup in for us soon. This sounds like a much easier solution than my daughter’s suggestion of building an aqueduct or elaborate irrigation system.

So, adding to my $88 worth of rhubarb, I now have chives and chive infused vinegar.
15 oz dried chives-$28 (I arrived at this price by looking at the bulk spice prices at 2 local markets plus what’s available online)
16 oz of chive infused vinegar – $10
several bundles of fresh chives -$8

My husbeast has been fishing a lot lately,too. Having terrible luck catching anything worth keeping but this week another fisherman gave him a nice bass he didn’t feel like cleaning. That was a nice free dinner. I have no idea what a whole bass costs. A 12 oz package of sea bass is $23 where we usually shop but this isn’t exactly sea bass.
I need to remember to add the cost of his fishing and hunting license into my food production expenses tally. So far without that figured in, I’ve spent $120 on seeds,tools,and other gardening things.
I need to keep better track of time spent in the garden. Once I have a good idea of this,I’ll start putting a monetary value to that time,too. Two separate rates – migrant farm worker wage and living wage.






Yes, you can still own a car in Alabama if you get food stamps

Today’s daily dozen… 12 things related to SNAP.

  1. Are There Enough SNAP Shoppers in My Community? – This discusses why farmers’ markets may not find it worthwhile to accept EBT. The small town where we used to live had a certain prestige and we were the only family who used SNAP there.

  2. Alabama isn’t going to take cars away from food stamps recipients – Last week it was widely reported that Alabama Republicans introduced a bill that would prohibit people from owning a car if they get SNAP.  I’m not sure why it was reported the way it was but basically, this bill is like Maine’s asset test reinstatement from last fall. Asset test for assistance is a federal policy that most states waive. This reverses that waiver.

  3. The budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a.k.a. “the people’s budget.” is everything we need – “The CPC budget bulks up funding for food stamps, child nutrition programs, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance, along with housing assistance for low-income families. It indexes Social Security to a more generous cost-of-living measure, so benefits increase more over time. It expands both the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, which top-off the paychecks for poorer Americans with extra cash. And it appropriates federal funding to create either national-level or state-level programs for paid sick leave and paid family leave.

    Along with replenishing these preexisting welfare programs, it would push non-defense discretionary spending back up to its historical average of 3.5 percent of the economy by 2021, down from the historic lows of 2.3 to 2.4 percent it’s at now. “In the long run [the CPC budget] spends a lot on needed public investments to push back against slowing productivity growth,” Blair said.

    But the CPC budget also contains some genuinely new additions: a public option for ObamaCare’s exchanges, funding to provide preschool for all families, a new program to refinance student debt, and a change to the law to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with providers. But arguably the biggest addition — in terms of economic impact — is the $1.2 trillion in new infrastructure spending the CPC budget would deploy in its first decade. There’s widespread agreement that at least that much is needed to repair the country’s seaports, roads, bridges, railways and such. And there’s hundreds of billions more needed to update the national infrastructure to make it more green friendly and environmentally sustainable.”

  4. ‘Congrats on Your College Degrees. Here Are Your Food Stamps.’– ugh. Just ugh.

  5. Senators uphold Nebraska food stamp ban for drug felons – Of all the policies that restrict people from getting food stamps, this one always makes me so angry. Felony convictions up the odds of living in poverty after release and then we take away the safety net. It’s ridiculous. I hope Sen Morfeld reintroduces the proposal.

  6. 9000+ Arkansans Losing SNAP at End of Month, Pantries Prepare to Serve More – this is the result of Arkansas reinstating work requirements

  7. Arkansas is looking at restricting certain foods from being purchased– That link goes to a misleading headline that makes it sound like a study was done that shows SNAP recipients buy junk food and “luxury” foods. What’s actually happening is an interim study was requested to look at how people spend SNAP money.

  8. House Agriculture Committee Questions USDA over Proposed SNAP Rule – Basically, those new proposed rules I talked about last week is what they’re asking questions about. Are these new requirements going to deter retailers from accepting SNAP?

  9. Tampons Shouldn’t Be Tax Free. They Should Be Covered by Food Stamps and Medicaid. – yes. yes, yes.

  10. Thousands of Unemployed Missouri Residents Will Soon Lose Their Food Stamp Benefits – same story as Arkansas

  11. Rules for SNAP benefits tightening in Maryland – same. Changes start April 1

  12. Proven at last: Want to raise a sneer? Buy organic while poor. – Oh,hell yes.

Pantry Anarchy: Hot Dog & Cabbage Soup (plus how to make veggie stock or broth)

Pantry Anarchy: Hot Dog & Cabbage Soup (plus how to make veggie stock or broth)
Because recipes were made to be broken when you’re broke.


You have no idea how much I hate hot dogs. Ask anyone,especially my boys. When they get to have hot dogs, it’s like a holiday. And of course, they love hot dogs. Lucky for them, the food pantry has hot dogs. Hooray.

One of my favorite soups is Cabbage & Sausage, so I decided to pretend hot dogs are a really lovely chorizo and make soup with them.

For this soup, I only needed onion,cabbage,potatoes,tomatoes,and hot dogs. Oh,and soup stock.

I didn’t have any pre-made broth or stock or even homemade in the freezer, so I had to make a batch of veggie stock. Veggie stock is easy to make but you just have to have a little bit of extra time to make it. I usually make a large batch at once and freeze what I’m not going to use right away. You can also can it with a pressure canner.

Instead of composting all my veggie scraps, I will add them to my veggie scrap bag in the freezer. I try not to add too many brassicas (broccoli,cabbage,etc) because they tend to overwhelm the flavoring but everything else is fair game. Potato skins,carrot peels, stems,leaves…..whatever. When the bag is full, it’s time to make stock. To make stock, you just throw all your scraps into a pot,add enough water to cover the veg, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Honestly, it’s that simple.

If you want to make broth instead of stock, saute onions,carrots,herbs in oil FIRST, and then add your veggies and water.

Broth is seasoned , stock is not. That’s the difference.

Ok, back to my Pretend Chorizo and Cabbage Soup.

To make the soup, I sauteed onions, then put 4 or 5 cups of stock in a pot with the onions. Added ¼ head of cabbage,chopped and 3-4 potatoes,diced and not peeled. Tossed in a can of crushed tomatoes and a smattering of whatever herbs I had on hand . Basil and garlic,mostly. (I am running extremely low on herbs and spices). Next, I added the hot dogs. I boiled them ahead of time to….get the nitrates out? Is this a myth that actually works? I have no idea (and can’t google right this second) but it made me feel better to do it.

And this is why I love making soup. You just throw things in a pot and pretend you know what you’re doing.

All the ingredients I used except herbs were from the food pantry but this would be a low cost meal if you’re buying ingredients. I wish there was an app that told me if I’ve mentioned something multiple times already elsewhere on the blog because I’ve probably said this a million times but during a usual shopping trip, I always buy a cabbage because they’re usually inexpensive and I can stretch it through several meals plus they dont go bad quickly. (obviously,not going to be a good tip for those in food deserts w/ little or expensive produce. Apologies.)

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Daily Dozen: SNAP News

[contents: food stamp cuts, block grants, former prisoners,senior citizens,Jeb Bush. Specific states: Pennsylvaia,Nebraska,Illinois,Massachusetts,Maine ]

  1. Food Assistance Cuts Affecting Up To 1 Million Impoverished Americans Ignored By Network News –  22 states reinstated policies that cut food stamps to around 1 million people and major network news sources never talked about it.
  2. Why Half a Million People Will Lose Their Food Stamps This Year – a refresher on why these cuts are happening
  3. For Maine Families Depending on SNAP for Groceries, Every Penny Counts – this shows what shopping looks like on SNAP plus mentions important things like lack of transportation and food accessibility
  4. Nebraska Could Be The Next State To Stop Punishing Drug Felons Years After They Leave Prison – hallelujah
  5. Put SNAP Into Block Grants? No Way – I covered this a little bit in the last SNAP news update. GOP wants to end the SNAP program and give states “block grants”. This is what that would mean.
  6. Editorial: Hunger has no place here in the US -this is really just a praise peice for Rep Jim McGovern from Massachusetts but brings to light key issues surrounding hunger in the US. McGovern is easily the most vocal rep that I can think of on this issue ,so I don’t even mind the praising tone
  7. 1700 Beaver County residents could lose food stamps in June – cuts in PA coming in June
  8. Are SNAP benefits really too low? On one hand, SNAP IS an effective anti-poverty program but in some areas, the amount really is too low, in my opinion. As much as I dislike SNAP challenges, we’ve seen politicians and celebs demonstrate that it’s really frickin’ hard to eat on SNAP and it isn’t just because those people are used to eating outrageously. If it’s being suggested that SNAP amounts are already enough, that essentially says that low income people don’t deserve to eat enough or well.
  9. SNAP and Seniors: A Health and Economic Issue -you don’t even have to read this one to know it’s shameful
  10. When we deny food stamps to ex-offenders we set them up to fail – precisely. It makes no sense at all
  11. Food stamps to be offered for more Illinois families – Good news for Illinois . SNAP is being expanded to include more families.
  12. Jeb Bush, Please Educate Yourself About Food Stamps – yeah, I doubt that’ll happen


Daily Dozen: Links galore.Well, 12 to be exact.


Trying something new here. I always have soooo many links to share that I get overwhelmed when I try to do it just once a week. And honestly, I can imagine when it’s a ton of links at once, it’s a lot to take in. So, I’ll try this. I’ll share 12 links every day. I’ll probably do some on topic (like food/recipes, SNAP,current events,gardening,budgeting,etc).

[content: parenting while poor,doulas for low income women,homelessness,transgender homeless people,homeless shelters,nice rappers doing good things for poor families and homeless people, teachers don’t get paid enough,wealth inequality,food insecurity]



  1. How it feels to be a poor mother living without heat during a blizzard – short answer: fucking miserable
  2. The Myth of Low Cost Doula Support – this was a heated discussion over at the FB page one day after I said I wanted to become a doula just to provide services to low income women. I understand in some areas, low cost doulas are totally a thing but it’s not the norm. Also, some people don’t seem to get that some low income women need it to be “no cost”
  3.  In North Carolina, Teachers Work Second Jobs to Make Ends Meet [via Raise Up]- “…16 percent of teachers nationwide are forced to work a second job outside the school system. In North Carolina, however, that number is closer to 25 percent — third-highest in the entire country. When you include teachers who take second jobs within the school system, more than half of North Carolina educators — a full 52 percent — work second jobs to supplement their salaries.”
  4. Travesty: It Is Now Illegal To Feed The Homeless In Thirty-Three Cities – ugh
  5. Chris Hedges: If You’re Poor, Justice in America Doesn’t Look the Same-nope
  6. Chance the Rapper Raised 100k to Make Coats for Chicago’s Homeless– they double as sleeping bags
  7. 2 Chainz Gives Family of 11 Facing Eviction a New Home – this guy❤
  8. Study: Low wages drive up government costs– makes sense. You dont pay people a living wage, they will need to rely on government assistance
  9. Police: Homeless Woman Smashed Window to Escape Cold – she wanted to go to jail so she didn’t have to freeze
  10. Wealth inequality has widened along racial, ethnic lines since end of Great Recession -yup
  11. via TalkPoverty: “I can’t afford to fill up my freezer, but I’m denied food stamps” –Kim
  12. Tll HUD to house trans people in shelters according to gender identity – This is a big deal. The number of trans people on the street has gone up and it’s harder for them to find shelters that accept them. (this does not address SAFE shelters for trans people,though)


Links: Food Justice & SNAP News – 1.13.16

[contents: food stamps, SNAP,Jeb Bush,Paul Ryan,block grants,marriage does not end poverty, states that will see SNAP cuts this month or soon, food insecurity,CSAs and food stamps,low income cooking classes for kids]


Our Prez had this to say about food stamps last night in the State of the Union address ….

via Think Progress

He isn’t wrong.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has been talking about poverty. He and other GOP dudes has what is being called “a bold and big new plan to end poverty”. On January 9th, Ryan and Sen Tim Scott moderated a Republican presidential forum on poverty.

Now, without even hearing what was said, I would assume that any plan put forth by the GOP to end poverty could also be dubbed The Bootstrap Plan. The idea of poverty solutions coming from the Republican party is laughable . Media Matters correctly identified the forum as a sham. Paul Ryan tossed out some sound bytes that sounded like he was trying to get some bipartisan support for these bold ideas. He talked about how we need to “Push wages up. Push the cost of living down. Get people off the sidelines.” One of the key takeaway points was that “a job is the only way out of poverty”, which completely ignores the current situation in the U.S. where many people in poverty DO have jobs…plural….and still live in poverty. This also really doesn’t address how disabled and elderly people or people who are caregivers for children or elderly family members are to be lifted out of poverty. Overall, the policies discussed contradict what the evidence says current safety net programs do and would increase poverty instead.

On the topic of SNAP,  there was much talk of “reform” and outright ending the program entirely. Jeb Bush laid out his plan prior to the poverty forum. His plan is to end SNAP and said “I know that giving states more flexibility will open the door for transformative ideas to eliminate poverty and increase opportunity”.   Whatever the hell that means. He also suggested that marriage is what will bring people out of poverty and on that key point, I’m done listening to anything he says.

(No,marriage won’t solve poverty, types the married blogger living in poverty)

Thankfully, economist Jared Bernstein explains what what Jeb’s plan is. When GOP candidates talk about ending SNAP, they mean they will cut SNAP as a federal program and give over to states an “opportunity grant” to be used to fund states’ own version of these programs. It’s a terrible idea and Bernstein explains:

The main reason this idea is so destructive is that it undermines the essence of the safety net, or its countercyclical function. The figure above makes the case (as the figure’s a bit gnarly, I pasted in the data below). It shows that when the last downturn hit, SNAP caseloads quickly responded to the loss of income among low-income households, while Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) hardly responded at all. The opportunity grant threatens to turn SNAP into TANF, killing the former’s countercyclical aspect in the same way block grants killed it for TANF.

We can learn a lot more about this bad idea from studying how SNAP worked in the last recession and thereafter.

Its countercyclical response in the figure is undeniable. Given that, some critics try to move the goalposts by granting that SNAP is responsive at the start of a downturn but arguing it’s less so later in the expansion, implying that it’s taking too long for

caseloads to fall as the economy has improved. There’s no question that SNAP caseloads, which are now slowly coming down, remained elevated as the unemployment rate fell. But for a number of reasons, that proves little.

You can read all of Bernstein’s WaPo article here.

Last week, Talk Poverty reported on The Ten Worst States for Food Insecurity. I’m thinking about what ending SNAP and giving block grants to those states would mean. For the love of Paul Ryan’s gym shorts….that can’t happen.

Moving on to other SNAP & food justice related things….
Let me start with a few GOOD THINGS:

⇒ you can finally use SNAP to get a CSA share. This will help some people gain access to fresh produce but honestly, probably only if the CSA does a sliding scale fee or type of discount for SNAP share holders  [via Modern Farmer]

⇒ MicroGreens is a great non-profit that teaches 6th and 7th graders how to cook healthy meals on a SNAP budget [via Civil Eats]

⇒ A school cut the summer meal program for low income kids ,so this woman got her caterer’s license and a pub let her use their kitchen to cook meals for them. Hero. [via Upworthy ]

Ok, on to the bad stuff.

SNAP cuts are now in effect or pending in the following states….
New Jersey

New Mexico

North Carolina (23 counties)



Tennessee (and Arkansas)

As many as 1 million people could lose SNAP this year [via Daily Kos]

Most of these cuts are due to states ending job waivers and enforcing time restrictions.

But as this points out, Requiring jobs won’t make jobs appear


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SNAP News: Community college students & hunger, Scott Walker’s nonsense…a report that says SNAP works to feed people and reduce poverty (yes,we know)


Recent changes to the SNAP program or public commentary…

[Content Notes for this week: college students,Wisconsin, Scott Walker,much poor shaming, SNAP challenges, CalFresh, Sacramento,New Mexico, New Jersey, senior citizens, SNAP works!, Georgia, Syrian refugees ]


χ  Association of Community College Trustees Announces New Report on Hungry, Homeless  – The “Hungry to Learn” report examines housing and food instability among community college students. Here’s the basics of the report:

  • Fifty-two percent indicated they were struggling with food insecurity, housing insecurity, or both.
  • One in five students went hungry while attending college.
  • Thirty-one percent of African American students and 23 percent of Latino students had very low levels of food security, compared with 19 percent of non-Hispanic white students.
  • One in eight was homeless at some time in his or her college career.
  • More than half (52%) of African American students experienced housing insecurity, with 18 percent experiencing homelessness, compared with 35 percent housing insecurity and 11 percent homelessness among non-Hispanic white students.

The report found that the biggest obstacle to students not graduating was not tuition expenses but living expenses. This is where SNAP could have a huge impact. Currently there are so many restrictions on college students receiving SNAP that too many of those 1 in 5 students won’t even qualify.

χ  Scott Walker Boots 15000 People Off Food Stamps In Three Months – Even though Wisconsin qualifies for a waiver that allows able bodied individuals to receive SNAP in times of economic hardship, Scott Walker reinstated work requirements. 15,000 lost SNAP as a result and the number is expected to double. The head of the Hunger Task Force, Sherri Tusler, said this will “bankrupt our food banks”.

I don’t think it’s even possible for me to not swear when I hear Walker’s name m wentioned anymore.

χ A week on food stamps in Sacramento – Not bad for a write up about a food stamp challenge (as most of you already know, I hate these simulations). The writer did it on $5/ day, which to me would be a feast. He recognizes that eating your boxed mac and cheese is going to be more appropriate for some than buying everything fresh(expensive). His input from some guy named Bill who lives on $1,000 a month was interesting. Please bring these magic grocery stores where 10 lbs of potatoes are $1.29 to my neck of the woods. This Bill guy says people on SNAP can’t feed themselves because they don’t know how to cook from scratch. Dude, lemme tell ya something. I have TAUGHT cooking classes. I don’t need to learn how to cook. I just need money to buy food.

χ Governor: Food stamp requirement not much to ask for – New Mexico’s governor Susanna Martinez wants to reinstate work or community service (80 hrs a month! If you’re looking for a job, how do you go about doing that,too?)  requirements for people getting SNAP. Requirements have been waived for 5 years now.

χ Council of Economic Advisers Releases Report Highlighting New Research On Food Stamps – the tl;dr version: SNAP works! People get to eat! Kids stay healthier! They do better in school! It helps decrease poverty! Yay, SNAP!

χ ‘Can you live on $16?’ Photos show NJ’s struggling senior citizens – The NJ Anti-Hunger Coalition is hosting a photo exhibit titled “N.J. Soul of Hunger: The Hidden Reality of Hunger Among Seniors and the Disabled” (funded by The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation). It is, of course, heartbreaking.

χ Bill Broker: Deal’s attitude toward Syrians and food stamps un-American – another excellent response to Georgia governor’s denial of services to Syrian refugees