The Food Stamp Challenge, Day One
Last month the Brazos Valley Food Bank asked me to take the "Food Stamp Challenge." It's a way to raise awareness about hunger, while changing the way people think about those living on food stamps.
It's no secret, there are people who cheat the system. But, it's also a fact that more and more middle class families in our area are turning to food stamps to feed their families. Some use food stamps to supplement their budget designated for food, but for some food stamps is all they have. So, I agreed to take the challenge. I received $29.89 for a week's worth of food. That's $1.42 per meal, per day. This is based on an average benefit amount for a single adult per month.
Here are the other rules provided by the Brazos Valley Food Bank:
2. Food that has been purchased previously should not be consumed. We are not encouraging you to let food go to waste. If you have perishables at home, figure out what they would cost and add them to your budgeted food.
3. Spices and condiments purchased previously can be used.
4. All food purchased and consumed, including dining out, must be included in the $29.89 amount.
5. Free food from friends, family, and work should be declined.
6. The following should not be purchased for consumption, because you cannot buy them with Food Stamps: ready-to-eat hot foods, foods to be eaten on the store premises, and alcoholic beverages.
7. What you consume should equal $29.89. For instance, you may buy a loaf of bread, and eat only half the loaf. Your seven-day consumption equals the dollar value of the half loaf. This is to facilitate rule number 8.
8. You should strive to maintain a healthy diet during this week.
I've made the decision to not eat out this week, and instead cook all of my meals. Also I acted as if I had no food at home and was shopping with food stamps for the very first time. So I ignored rule number 7. I also wanted to see if I could excel at rule number 8, so I went shopping with a nutritionist.
Here is a breakdown of what I was able to buy with the designated amount of money.
Four Bananas = $.47
One package frozen spinach = $.95
One package brown rice = $.79
One package black beans = $.99
One half gallon skim milk = $1.88
One can tuna = $.79
One Yoplait carton of yogurt = $2.59
One container peanut butter =$1.89
One container quick oats = $1.59
One loaf whole wheat bread = $1.99
One medium onion = $.37
One medium tomato = $.71
One baking potato = $.79
Three apples =$1.75
Frozen broccoli stir fry =$1.79
Frozen pasta vegetable mix =$1.79
Ground round beef =$2.37
One whole chicken fryer =$5.15
One package of tea bags =$1.15
GRAND TOTAL = $29.80 (I had $.09 left over)
I may have been able to buy more for my money by looking at store circulars, but for this challenge I did one-stop shopping. I used no coupons with this challenge. I shopped for the best price. Convenience costs more, so again I will be cooking my meals. I have a few recipes I'll be sharing throughout the week. Overall, I think I walked away with enough food for seven days. I will post an updated blog tonight, outlying what I've eaten today. The only downside I've noticed so far, is that I couldn't afford coffee.