The Food Stamp Challenge is over, and I made it through the week without cheating. I lost three pounds, triumphed over my addiction to Diet Pepsi (for the week only), and feel quite proud of myself.
Enough about me. Here are the lessons I learned:
Living on food stamps is not just about the food. It takes a lot of planning ahead to live on a food stamp budget, and still, even if you get the calories you need, you can’t get the nutrients. Maybe some nutrition expert can figure out how one can eat healthily on a food stamp diet, but I can’t see how it’s done. Fruits and vegetables, especially fresh ones, are very expensive relative to foods like pastas and bread.
Cooking makes the dollars go further. The chicken I roasted carried me through the weekend. I made chicken soup with ramen noodles to go with my chicken dinners and chicken salad for lunch. To be very honest, I almost never cook, except on special family holidays like Passover and Thanksgiving. One needs to know how to cook, must have the time to cook, and the oven to cook in. Low-income Americans who live in cheap motels, for example, may have neither refrigerators nor stoves.
My diet was pretty boring, though the chicken made it quite a bit better. Good thing I like chicken. Again, I’m sure someone with more skill in the kitchen and more time than I have, could plan more interesting meals.
I spoke with a radio talk show host today, who said that food stamps just increase dependency, that poor people should be taught a lesson, and that they should just stop having children. He also said that food stamps were just meant to supplement anyway, that kids get free meals at school, and that poor people should get their lazy selves off their couches and get a job.
I tried to keep my cool and countered that most of those families receiving food stamps had at least one and maybe two working adults in them, and even working full time at a low wage job put that family below the poverty level, and that, even if he was right, which he wasn’t, should the children be punished by sending them to bed or to school hungry or malnourished? I said it was in our interest to ensure a generation of healthy children if we want to be competitive in the world, and besides that it was a moral issue that in the wealthiest country in the world, tens of millions of people struggle to have enough to eat every day and many fail. Talk about clueless and cold, in my estimation, that guy was it.
We are heading into summer vacation, which is a time of particularly high risk, since many children will not have access to the breakfast and lunch programs they receive during the school year.
It’s clear to me that Congress must act and pass the
provisions of Representatives Jim McGovern’s and Jo Ann Emerson’s Feeding