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.)


If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon

 

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 bit.ly/22oqUBM
  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)

 

The food people get from the food bank

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to tell me what they get from their food bank. I got hundreds of answers and what I heard was exactly as I expected but maybe not what a lot of people would expect?

And that was absolutely why I wanted to do this post.

I’ve been writing about food insecurity for long enough to have encountered recurring conversations and remarks. I would say it’s a common occurrence to see a person say they don’t have enough food to eat and the overwhelming response they get is, “Go to your local food bank.”. The advice might be coming from someone who thinks this is helpful advice but they’ve never been to a food bank themselves OR they have used food banks before and they’re experience has been excellent. “Excellent” is not what most people would describe their experience as and it’s also important for people to understand that sometimes food banks are not accessible for everyone. But mostly, I want people to understand the limited capacity of what “go to the food bank” might mean for someone.
I want to clarify here that this is in no way a diss to food banks. Food banks are an incredibly valuable asset. The people who manage and volunteers at food banks are tirelessly compassionate and caring people. They want people to get enough food and they would rather it be good food. As more states impose restrictions on SNAP and limit who can get it, food banks are crucial but as the number of people who need them increases, the ability to truly help people decreases. You’re hearing from GOP candidates that the best thing we can do for “the poor” is to just get rid of the SNAP program altogether on the federal level and let the states decide how to allocate money for safety net programs. This will have a massive impact on already struggling states where food banks are maxed out on their helping potential.

Right now there are people who are trying to feed themselves exclusively from food banks. These people usually are just over the limit to qualify for SNAP (I keep telling ya’ll…SNAP works exactly how it should and needs to be expanded). Some people do get SNAP but the amount is small. People will sometimes have to go to several food banks in their area to make it work. Two people told me they couldn’t use the food bank where they live because the eligibility is based on whether or not you qualify for SNAP and they didn’t. Some food pantries do not deliver and people without transportation can’t make it there.

Produce is rare for some,especially in the winter months. This is an important point for foodists to take note of. If you’re advising poor people that it’s easy to eat healthy, you need to be aware that their options are limited. 

 

[in photo: bag of apples,bag of white potatoes,3 onions,1 cabbage, 5lbs wheat flour, 5lbs cake mix base, red thai curry seasoning,shelf stable milk,1 lb macaroni,2 lbs dried lentils,2 cans black beans,1 can chickpeas,1 can blackeyed peas,1 can chili beans, 1 can kidney beans,2lbs white rice,1 lb brown rice,2 cans pineapple,2 cans mandarin oranges,2 cans fruit cocktail,1 can peaches,1 can tuna,2 cans cream of mushroom soup,juice,1 lb pasta,1.5 lb egg noodles,2 lbs ground turkey,1 lb hot dogs,veggie chips, contact lens solution,1 loaf of sourdough bread]

This is what we brought home last Monday from our food pantry. Our’s is a “self serve” pantry and clients get to choose what they want. The amounts are based on a point system for family size. These guidelines are supposed to be a 3-day supply of food per person. This food pantry is open twice a month. What’s available changes.

img_2048

Sorry this photo is blurry but I think you can get the idea. When we go in, we take the card with our family size on it (6 that week because 1 kid went back to college). On the tables, the food is labeled with points. Canned food is usually 1 pt, as are grains. Meats are more….I think the ground turkey was 4 pts.  I know a bag of chicken is the costliest at 10 pts. Some items are only 1 per family (especially produce). Occasionally they have non-food items like toothpaste and those are always one per family.

From my perspective, this is pretty good. I have never had expired food. Nothing has ever made us sick. I can usually figure out ways to make meals from it , although sometimes it takes a lot of creativity and strict management of resources available.

So, that’s my experience with the one we use right now.

Here is some of what other people wanted to say about their experiences:

Amy, Central NY-   We have a food bank and a fresh food giveaway.  The fresh food giveaway is bread and produce, every once in a while dairy products or eggs.  The food bank is toilet paper, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruit, canned vegetables, mystery poptarts (They’re out of the box and the wrappers aren’t labelled, so you don’t know what kind they are until you get them home and open them.  I can’t have peanuts, but so far I have been lucky and have not gotten the peanut butter ones), pancake mix, syrup, tuna fish, rice, beans, lentils, and some vegetable soup that’s bizarrely nasty on its own but that can be put into a stew or something similar.  One time the food bank had body spray.  And they’ve had agave nectar a couple of times. 

Elizabeth, Southern PA -…my experience has been mixed. Some only give enough for two days for four.
I’ve had produce, frozen meat, canned meat ( once the chicken was bad and made my daughter ill). I’ve seen nothing but bags of stale soft pretzels at one place

Becky, Vermont (volunteer) – We purchased a walk in cooler for meat and other frozen foods. The amount you get depends on family size. For example, a family of 4 would get around 12 cans of veggies, 12 soup, 12 various types of macaroni, 12 tuna, 10 other meat cans. Two bags of rice, 4 frozen packs of meat…etc. You can come once a month. Fresh produce comes in from the food bank once a month. You would need to be in that week to get it. Eggs we have too.

Peggy-  Our foodbank also allows only one pickup a month. The only time I ever received meat was the first time that I went. I was turned away by the foodbank itself. A lady came out and told me that the woman in front of me was the last person they would serve. It was two days before Christmas, a snow storm was forecast. I had driven 15 miles to get there…I was nearly sure to almost starve before they opened back up in the new year. A kind woman gave me one of her family’s four boxes. It had a pork roast in it.

Brooke,MI-Last time my husband was off work…they asked for paycheck stubs…haven’t been back unfortunately. We did get all the staples. Never any fresh stuff. I can get baby food..diapers and wipes also. 

Chris, FL- I haven’t been back since we all had food poisoning. I know the bad food came from the food bank because it was the only food we had in the house.

Sheila, CT- I went to the FB today in the neighboring city. I”m allowed to go only once every 3 weeks since I no longer get SNAP, this is about it for me… I also go to the food bank in my town (once a month, when I am not scheduled for work I am able to go to this)  and the food truck is once a month  but I have Fibromyalfia and so can only go during good (not really bad) weather. Today at the FB in the neighboring city I was given: 

1 turkey breast frozen
1 chicken pot pie “use by 1/5/16….  (not so sure about this, it was not frozen, it was fresh. 9 days past it’s use by date and it has poultry in it.. : ( Not feeling like I will use this… 
1 box of cereal (contains almost- I am super allergic to…) 
large box of pound cake
box of stuffing mix
peanut butter
grape jelly
2 cans beans
1 can apricots
1 big can (28 oz) tomatoes
can of cream of mushroom soup
can of cream of chicken soup
2 boxes pasta
3 individual servings size coconut water mixed with juice
1 can of carrots
8 or 10 bagels
2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
trial size fabric softener.2 small cans Vienna sausages : ( 
2 dozen eggs
32 oz skim milk
16 oz chocolate milk
16 oz hazlenut meal- says it can be used in place of flour
So that is suppose to do me for 3 weeks, for 3 people…
Wendy, SLC,Utah- I live in a low income senior apartment building with 80 apartments. Once a month the food bank brings both state and federal boxes. Even the guy who has been distributing the food for many years does not know why some people get state and others federal. I get the state box. Each one is decorated by kids. Sometimes they are quite clever! Boxes were distributed yesterday. I got 4 cans of tuna, 2 small cans of salmon, 3 cans of cranberry juice concentrate, peanut butter, 2 cans fruit cocktail, a box of honey graham crackers, a loaf of oat bread and 6 strawberry Activia bottles. I gave back 2 cans of beef stew, a jug of grape juice and a brick of plastic cheese. We have a free table in the community room, so we can put what we don’t want on it and take something else. I took a bag of powdered milk and an old guy gave me his 6 bottles of Activa Everybody here wishes we got things like fresh meat, veggies or fruits!

Anon, MI- The pantry I used to volunteer at in the next town over  a few years ago
that was supported by several local churches, who did not have pantries
of their own and chose to consolidate resources.  The requirement was
residence in the local school district.  Customers were allowed one trip
a month and were given a general listing with quantities in various food
groups.  “Day close” produce and bakery was donated by the local grocery
store and could selected according to their needs/preferences.   Meat
was typically donated from a local butcher shop, frozen.  Never things
like butter, eggs, cheese or milk.   They always referred to it as
supplementing their customers groceries, not providing everything.
Extra trips were allowed on a case by case basis.  Customers grabbed a
shopping cart and chose their own items.  That worked soooo much better
than throwing stuff in a bag and handing it to them, not having a clue
about personal tastes.  A free clothing closet was available as well as
bill assistance.

From my recollection, I can’t find the actual lists on my computer.

1-2 people (then kinda double or triple or 3-4 and 5-6)  There were
allowances made depending on how deep the shelves were.

3 cans of veggies
2 cans soup
2 cans meat (usually tuna)
2 boxes mac & cheese, pasta,  hamburger helper, rice or potato mix
2 cans of fruit
1 can spaghetti sauce
1 box cereal
1 fruit juice
Baking supplies if we had them, if requested.
1 peanut butter  (but for instance an elderly woman might not use this
and could select something else)
1 jelly
2 personal care items which might include 1 laundry soap, 1 toilet paper
a package of frozen beef, pork or chicken (no fish ever)
1-2 Snack items, cake mix, pancake mix/syrup etc., jello, pudding were
usually available

Various things like canned or powdered milk were usually available if
requested.
Things like unusual vegetables or canned goods that had been donated
were free for the picking if they could be used, as well as dry beans.
Usually there were diapers, feminine hygiene products and formula
available.

I think we estimated $30-40 worth of product per trip for 1-2 people

Pam, Chattanooga-  The food Bank delivers to a local church once a month. We usually get a frozen 10 lb bag of chicken legs and thighs 5 or 10 lb bag of potatoes some fresh produce a couple of canned veggies some donated baked goods and some other random stuff. In late fall I received a huge amount of end of season produce. Carrots onions and peppers that are in my freezer. This month got a cabbage and a lb of older carrots that cooked up fine in a soup. Last month not much produce but peanut butter and cereal were appreciated.

Connie, Lake County ,Ohio- Most of the good pantries are run by churches, and usually the Catholic churches. They divide the community into sections. You have to go to your assigned church. The one we went to for several years, before our recent eviction/move was once every 30 days. Clients choice from each food group. Three day supply for however many people. For the two of us (adult son and I) we usually got 3 soups, a breakfast (pancake mix/syrup or cereal) two pasta, sauce, 3 canned fruit, pb&j, 3 canned veggies, tp, 1 snack, and something frozen- sometimes bagged entree, sometimes hot dogs, chicken, whatever they have. Other items depend on store donations- if they had close date yogurt/dairy, sometimes eggs. Lots of bakery donations, wry depends on how much they got- 1 or 2 bread, a couple cookie/cake/pastry. Occasional “fresh” produce, but lots of times borderline spoiled.

Current church seems to have more/better donations. We got quite a lot and also got milk, eggs, frozen leftovers from on site caterer, frozen meat, bread, dessert. They had a snack shelf, coffee/tea, baking products.

There is also a produce give away the first Saturday. Last time we got 10 lbs of potatoes, cabbage, onions, apples, watermelon, carrots, grapefruit, squash and some baked goods.

Another church does “taxables”. Last Saturday of the month. One month deodorant, shampoo, shaving supplies, along with toothpaste and TP. Next month laundry and dish soap with TP.

MJ, Southern IL- We don’t go all the time but sometimes we need to. Usually there is a frozen chicken, or a lb of hamburger, once we got a pork loin, pancake mix, syrup, a few cans of fruit and veg, soup, box of cereal, and spaghetti noodles and a can of tomato sauce. I am always grateful that I can cook. I can turn a sows ear into a silk purse. Sometimes there are out of date things. I always check things out well…we have also gotten sick from chicken. About twice a year they have a thing where they load your trunk. Once we got a case of frozen pineapple chunks…lol…it was summer so they were good frozen treats.

Most all of the food pantries here are run by churches…I don’t know of any town around that has a food bank.

Lydja- We haven’t been there for 6 months, but when we went it was usually this;
2lb bg macaroni
1 can veggies usually green beans
1 can soup
1small jar jelly
1 small jar peanut butter
4 to 5 day old full size cakes or pastries
4 loaves breads usually I was given more because most folk didn’t want the whole or multi grain healthy bread. I took all they would give and freeze.
Sometimes there would be a stick of margerine, or a pack of hot dogs or bologna, maybe a couple of rolls of toilet paper.
At Christmas or Thanksgiving the first 25 or so got hams or turkeys.
That food bank gave out 2x a month. There were others, but they were in bad areas, and only did evening hours.
I found an outlet store that sold dented, close to date food, I was able to make what they had into passable meals cheap.
There were too many folks in need,and not enough to go around.

Ramen Noodle Nation (great blog, btw) shared these links related to their food pantry excursions- Blog entries on food pantries and gave this update… The mobile food pantry has been better since these were written, last time got a bag of peppers, a pound of sliced ham, stale French bread, some ranch dressing, hummus and chips, lettuce and a few other things.
Found a second church community meal.
One church food pantry in November 2015, gave us frozen thanksgiving turkey breasts with corn, stuffing, noodles, a box of biscuit mix, cranberry, and soups. We got a similar box in December.
Meat seems to always be in short supply and since these were written Squawker can eat dairy if she has a glass of Lactase milk that day.

An, Minnesota-

I am a student-parent at a community college in Minnesota. I have a work-study position in which I facilitate Poverty 101, a training program I designed to break poverty stereotypes amongst our student employees (this is needed…just wait for it–the pictures speak volumes). We just opened a new Resource and Support Center this week. The center will help students get connected with basic needs, and houses our food pantry. While we have had a food pantry for awhile, it was located in an empty store closet with no heat.

I have included a few photos. The one titled, “Pantry,” is what we used to give out to students–snacks to get them through the day. The photo titled, “Food Bags,” is from our holiday break packs, which were packed with the hope of supplementing a student over winter break. They consisted of a few cans of generic soup, dehydrated veggies, unlabled tuna, pasta, and a couple cans of fruit. Some had sauce and beans, but there wasn’t enough to go around. The photo titled, “Screenshot,” is what was on the posters advertising the break packs. (As you can see, the marketing team hasn’t taken Poverty 101.) Students were upset about the difference between the advertisement and the actual items, but what do you do when it’s your only option? The lack of cultural sensitivity is real, and I am having a rough time breaking down the poverty stigma on campus.

Don’t get me wrong, faculty is trying  and finally we have administration behind us. But the struggle is real. The distributor the pantry gets their food from recently told our contact that they are having trouble securing food at the prices they need to keep supplying the many food shelves they serve. This pisses me off to no end. We all are painfully aware that food not sold eventually goes into dumpsters, not hungry stomachs. There is no reason, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, that we can’t feed everyone nutritious food.

But that’s another story.

 


If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon

 

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.
TenWorstStates-FoodInsecurity

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)

Mississippi

Pennsylvania

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

 


If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon