17 May 2010

Can It Be Done? - $68.00/Week For a Family of Four

I was listening to NPR this AM and heard a story that I found a bit upsetting. Apparently, 1 in 8 American families is eligible for food stamps, the government food aid vouchers affiliated with the SNAP federal program (supplemental nutrition assistance program). That's 12% of the American families ... heaven knows how many folks the final tally come to, but it's too many. To boot, to qualify for food stamps, the family food budget (by necessity) translates, when broken down by government wonks, to just over $68 dollars a week. Which leads me to this question - given the latest federal guidelines for fighting the nation's poor nutrition and obesity crisis, can one feed a family of four on $68/week? I'm going to try it this week. Already, though, I have a dilemma. I have a well-stocked pantry. How do folks provide an interesting diet for their families when the incidentals like spices, baking supplies, condiments, et cetera aren't able to be included on a 'just the basics' budget? If you've not gotten a chance to set aside some of the basic food commodities that help you round out recipes, how do you ever get to a stocked pantry that allows for that? What about processed foods and their high salt and sugar content? How can you possibly get away from them and still fill your family's collective belly? Lean proteins present another problem. How can you give your family less fat and more protein if the cheaper cuts of meat that have a tendency to have fatty skin and higher fat content in the cuts are all you can afford? This will be an interesting week ... I wonder how many hours it will take me to shop?

I'll  admit right now that I'm a bit skeptical that the goal can be achieved. If you know me, you know that I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, tax-and-spend-on-social-programs American citizen. I do, however, think that those social programs need to be realistic and if a program is going to aid folks at the same time that the federal government has changed its recommendations on nutritional intake, then the program that helps those folks eat should alter its formula for aid distribution ... in this case, increase the amount of money and tighten what can be purchased with the dollars. I also don't understand why the feds axed farm subsidies for growing certain crops ( those 'certain crops' could be veggies and fruits and meat for the SNAP program). I also think SNAP distribution centers could be established in high need areas where there are high concentrations of folks using the program and that small concentration areas could have SNAP distribution channeled to smaller retail or non-profits that aid folks in need. Oh Lord, this rant could go on and on ... I guess my concern is that everyone should be able to have a decent meal and there is no reason why Americans can't help out their neighbors ...

Stay tuned on the $68 dollar thing.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. 68 dollars. For four people? I'll be interested in seeing how you do with this...


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