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June 14, 2007



Congresswoman, your comments are ripe for criticism. First, the program is supposed to be a supplement. Why should people have their entire food budget provided by this program? Second, part of your trouble is food selection. Plenty of people provide for themself of their own funds for close to your alotted amount. As has been noted elsewhere, crackers are an expensive item - perhaps they are not a good fit for someone on food stamps. Home Economics appears to be in order. Third, stop with the "richest country in the world" thing. The riches in this country are not yours to tap, those riches actually belong to real people. Why do you believe that you, through taxation, should steal productive people's resources? Lastly, it is comical that you state "this is not about" you. It's entirely about you, it's about other legislators and it's about activists who want to extend their control over more and more independent people. You should focus on creating independence from, instead of dependence on, the federal government.


I read another blog that made reference to your experience with $21 dollars. I think that it is an interesting experiment to undertake. I can only imagine the stress and fear of someone that has to make ends meet on so little. As a person that has dealt with issues of entrenched poverty it is unbelievable that we are still talking about hunger in our society. We make it seem like it is our patriotic duty to castigate the poor as lazy and believe that anyone's success in life is independant of community support. Plus, our government can shovel billions of dollars to military contractors and give huge tax incentives to large corporations, but it can't help the most vulnerable within our population (children). Thank you for making some focus on poverty in America. It doesn't happen enough in our government. Those of us who have worked in soup kitchens and food pantries appreciate any assistance that you can give those in need. I realize that poverty is a complicated issue, but it is important to at least begin again to address it as an issue.


Brian - I deal with issues of entrenched poverty every day. I intentionally moved into a city with lots of entrenched poverty. I give out groceries to my neighbors all the time. You err in at least two ways. First, I do not decry community support, in fact, I believe community support is the only way to elevate people's lives. Second, I would not say the poor are lazy; I believe programs like food stamps inhibit people from doing truly productive things, like working. The problem is that we view government as the vehicle to solve problems. This is patently, blatantly incorrect. People solve problems, governments perpetuate problems. Look at the history of humanity - kings and rulers were reviled the world over because of their cruelty and exorbitant lifestyles (read: hi taxation). What we have managed to do in the US is replace our kings with our peers - and they have succeeded in lording their power over us just as royalty of the past. The congresswoman is the same; with her mouth she tells you she's making things better for you and by her actions she is punishing you, all at the same time.

Dick King

Where does the $21 figure come from? The table in this publication gives a figure of $155, which is about $35/week.

$21 may be the amount the average food stamp recipient receives, not the poorest, but a recipient of $21 has enough income that he can be assumed to have an additional $14 that he is supposed to kick in to his food budget.


Dick King

Sorry, the link didn't show for some reason. The URL is http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/applicant_recipients/fs_Res_Ben_Elig.htm .


Tammie Garcia

I am amazed at the way people think. Some are lazy yes but most are not.Let me describe my situation and maybe you'll realize a few thigns. I have raised 4 chikldren 2 lived ion my house and i paid child support for the oldest 2.I worked many long and hard hours at a very physically demanding job that didnt pay squat, But i worked so hard and long and PAID my taxes that it eventually destroyed my body, just so i wouldnt have to get "help" My children turned out really well (good thing). NOW i face the issues of being disabled and living on 728 $ a month!!! I pay 355 for rent 65 for electric 107 for phone, tv and internet access (my only interaction to the outside world) 95 for my medications and 22.50 for a buss pass. that totals upto 655.5 leaving 83 for food laundry clothing toilet paper garbage bags. so i get 138 a month in food stampswhich is 34.5 a week which if i was healthy wouldn't be a problem but i am diabetic and am supposed to eat 6 small meals a day thats makes each meal cost 1.21. so what can you find HEALTHY to eat at that price? So that makes my sugar unstable which means more hospital and doctor visits. I gave up alot just to do what "society" feels a productive citizen should do. I would rathe rspend all that medical money on food than over priced doctors and hospitals. Some things i have given up becaus ei either cant afford to replace or just can live with out. Panties would be nice to have, a pair of shoes that dont have holes or rips.Even a pair of pants or a shirt that fits, heck even a new one, Dare i dream of such a thing? So go back to complaining about how those of us who need help are lazy and complaining about that new car you cant afford or how neglected you feel becasue your husband works so hard and long so you can sit on your butt and eat truffles and be so unappreciative of what you have. Meanwhile i will just just be thankful im alive. Things in this country need to seriously change. I'm so proud of these senators for trying to understand how the "other half" lives. I think all those in government need to experince how I and others live.
Thank You for your time

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Jeff Rodriguez

Perhaps this has already been pointed out, but it might need reiteration. Buy cheap, calorie dense foods in bulk, shop somewhere cheap (Food City). I think it was MSN, who had a spectacular article showing the foods that families (of 4) around the world bought each week. Americans were somewhere in around $200-300; the diet consisting mostly of pre-packaged crap foods.

I found Chad very interesting, their diets consisted of 3 or 4 enormous bags of grains, beans, and whatnot. Their cost per week? Less than $2, for a family of four.

I see it as very easy: Stop messing with the market. Eliminate the 8 BILLION dollars in farm subsidies. With that alone you could feed 400 million families in Chad for a quarter of the year. Give that back to the people you represent instead of spending their money on things they don't want.

The fact of the matter is you can get along quite well on a low food budget. It's not going to be particularly tasty, but it will provide sustenance. I'm sorry to say, you're doing it wrong.


Personally, I find the Food Stamp Program completely unfair. I, myself, am a single mom with a 19 yr old boy and a 9 yr old girl. I have been unemployed for over 2 years. Due to the 200,00+ Katrina survivors in our area jobs are hard to come by. I started school in January so I can open my own business and take care of my family. I have a year to go. I also applied for Food Stamps and other assistance. I was offered $10 a month in Food Stamps because the father of my son owes $87,000 in back child support and one day i might get that. Thankfully I have family that can and do help me with my bills such as rent, electricity and whatnot. I was told that if I quit school and my son quits school and we do absolutely nothing, I'd get $38 a month in Food Stamps. I was also told that I lived in a neighborhood that is considered upper middleclass and that I should not need help. My family takes me to the grocery store every couple of weeks and I spend about $50, and make do with what I have. I make sure my kids have plenty to eat.


I grew up with a single mother who raised two girls on her own making no more than $30k a year. We lived in an upper middle class neighborhood so that we could go to good schools. She never had to use food stamps and neither will I because she taught me how to be smart and use what you have. For example, yesterday I purchased:

8 boxes of brand name cereal
2 gallons of milk
2 boxes of cereal bars
2 boxes of toaster pastries
4 boxes of crackers
2 lbs of butter
2 bottles of hair products
4 lbs of bananas
5 lbs of boneless chicken breast

and I only paid $10. Now tell me why do people need more food stamps?

Give a hand up, not a hand out. Let's teach people how to use their resources wisely instead of giving them more.

Valuable Stamps

Thanks for posting your experiences. Yeah, these people are seriously underfunded.


I just looked up the income guidelines for food stamps in my state (Texas). Our family of six would qualify, with our current income, for $722 a month in food stamps. Our monthly average for groceries over a year's time is about half that. We are not living on bananas and crackers - we eat whole grains, beans and other legumes, fruits, vegetables, lean meats - in other words, a well-rounded diet, with enough variety to keep us content. The only people I personally know of who spend upwards of $700 a month on groceries are either feeding a houseful of their teens' friends all the time, regularly buying expensive meats and fish that are tens of dollars a pound, or both.

In my humble opinion, part of the problem stems from an entire generation of Americans growing up thinking that sticking something into the microwave or toaster oven is "cooking", and thinking that high-markup items like cold cereal and prepackaged snack foods (crackers, cookies, chips, frozen meals) are necessary. Buying in bulk, stocking up during sales and learning simple cooking and menu planning skills could help people who desperately need to stretch their food budgets to do so. But the desire to put the time and effort in does have to be there. Trying to spend $3 daily in a store to feed oneself is not going to work. Taking $500 at the beginning of the month and planning and shopping carefully would result in feeding a family just fine. Thousands (millions?) of us do it every month.

Yesterday our family had oatmeal with raisins and orange juice for breakfast; sausages on buns with carrot and celery sticks for lunch; apples and oranges for snacks; and potato stew with spinach and mushroom salad and fresh bread for supper. The total cost for the day was most assuredly less than $21. I have helped friends who asked me learn how to shave dollars off their food bill and better use the resources they have, I encourage other readers here to do the same. Share your easy, cheap homemade soup or chili recipe with a friend. If you have a garden share your bounty with neighbors. Lending a helping hand is just as if not more important than spending more money.


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