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Bureaucrats try food stamp diet


fresco
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I'd be inclined to agree with you. But in the case of the Toronto politicians, they wrote their own material. It was published in a weekly extremely sympathetic to them.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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We here in Oregon have a weird situation where we have both very high national numbers for obesity and for people who say they are hungry.

Squeat, doesn't California, and especially San Francisco, have some of the highest expenditures for social services in the country?

ExtraMSG,

General Assistance recipients in San Francisco receive from $320 to $395 per month. Newsome's "Care Not Cash" proposal (which has now been rejected by both the voters and the Board of Supervisors) would immediately cut that to $59 per month and, in theory, move those affected (an estimated 6000 individuals) into homeless shelters. One problem with that is that these shelters are already full.

San Francisco does spend quite a bit, relatively speaking, on social services programs, but it is obvious that current efforts fall woefully short of a solution. Now that he has ridden this single issue (the homeless) into office, it will be interesting to see what Gavin Newsome will be able to accomplish. The Board of Supervisors, among others, remain skeptical. To many, it looks like Willie Brown all over again.

Cheers,

Squeat

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A household of two which meets eligibility requirements could receive up to $259 per month in assistance.  Amy Dacyczyn, in her Tightwad Gazette, writes about how she feeds her family of eight on $180 per month.  I've had friends who have purchased food for others with their leftover money because they never spent their allotment.  I'm not saying it is easy to make it, but that the problems are often more those of not being able to prepare cheap foods or being unwilling to eat nourishing whole foods (a huge array of socioeconomic issues plays into this) than in it truly being an impossibility. 

I have lived in a homeless shelter alongside a couple who literally spent what would have been a month's rent on fast food each month- this while living in a shelter that provided wholesome meals.  Because they turned their noses up at salads, beans, egg dishes, whole-grain pasta etc they remained in a shelter while spending their own money (which they could have saved to get out of said shelter, which btw was a dungpit) on McDs. 

Part of the cycle of poverty is consumer culture that often, ironically enough, victimizes the poor the most.  Another woman I met would spend $80 on Tommy Hilfiger jeans for her teenage daughter- again, while living in a shelter.  I'm not saying that these people didn't have it tough, because they did in so many ways, and yes- it's hard not to be able to buy a latte when you feel like it.  But, uh, should the federal government really be subsidizing your morning Starbucks?

i agree.

one thing that truly chaps me is WIC. I stand in line in the grocery store, and as FistFullaRoux said, had to make a decision between having lights or having food. On this particular day the woman in front of me was paying via WIC vouchers - her groceries were juicy juice, sweetened general mills cereal, kraft dinners, and other various major brand, processed items which to my mind are fairly expensive considering the return. I can't blame her, because WIC has a listing of what it is that you can buy, and these items were on her list. She also had about 150 dollars worht of hair and nail treatments, and 2 chubby children in designer gear with little air jordans on.

Meanwhile i'm trying to figure out if i buy some generic rice and dried beans, if that will last me til payday.

I'm not bitter - but i definitely believe consumerism is aimed at the poor - and that there isn't sufficient education. It also struck me that the government subsidizes poor nutrition in those that are at highest risk for poor nutrition to begin with.

Edited by tryska (log)
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Squeat,

Perhaps this was an oversight on your part, but Care Not Cash was endorsed by the voters, to the tune of a 60% margin. It was a judge's ruling that the initiative process could not be used to set that kind of policy that threw it to the Supervisors, where it lost by one vote. Guess who that vote was? Yes, Gonzalez, who just happens to be person who was just defeated in the mayoral runoff. The voters seem to have a pretty clear opinion on this.

Getting back to the topic at hand, my family was on WIC for a period, and it certainly was no picnic but I think if you're willing to cook it is not that difficult to survive. Part of the problem is people working two jobs don't have time for much more than pizza and mac 'n cheese, and the truly poor don't have access to cooking facilities anyway. My job is only 40 hours a week and I have no idea where I'd get another 40 hours from to work the second job. Maybe the solution is "WIC prices," where the shittier the food is, the more it costs.

And, in an almost completely unrelated vignette, a friend of a friend, Ben, used to spend nine months out of the year at the Library of Congress, researching topics that struck his interest, including working through encylopedias in order. The other three months he worked as a farmer on the family farm (obviously, this requires quite a bit of capital now that the homestead act is defunct). He calculated that by buying by the sack (55 lbs., I think) he could assemble legumes, oatmeal, and other grains, plus powdered milk and a multi-vitamin, into a nutritionally complete diet. The daily cost of this diet was US$0.17! He used to joke that it had five elements: the bean element, the grain element, the milk element, the trace elements(did I mention that Ben had a degree in physics?), and the heating element. So, it certainly it possible to eat for a trivial amount of money. The problem is that human beings don't want to. A burger and fries taste good, even if they are expensive. It's an affordable "luxury."

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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one thing that truly chaps me is WIC. I stand in line in the grocery store, and as FistFullaRoux said, had to make a decision between having lights or having food. On this particular day the woman in front of me was paying via WIC vouchers - her groceries were juicy juice, sweetened general mills cereal, kraft dinners, and other various major brand, processed items which to my mind are fairly expensive considering the return. I can't blame her, because WIC has a listing of what it is that you can buy, and these items were on her list. She also had about 150 dollars worht of hair and nail treatments, and 2 chubby children in designer gear with little air jordans on.

Meanwhile i'm trying to figure out if i buy some generic rice and dried beans, if that will last me til payday.

I'm not bitter - but i definitely believe consumerism is aimed at the poor - and that there isn't sufficient education. It also struck me that the government subsidizes poor nutrition in those that are at highest risk for poor nutrition to begin with.

Sorry to say it goes deeper than consumerism. In most places WIC mandates what products and the sizes that you can buy. I am not sure of the exact mechanics of the program but I do see little tags next to prices on items in the store indicating they are WIC approved.

How they choose what is allowed seems to be more restrictive than food stamps. Sure mom and kids get food but not the most nutritious or economical. Personally I would rather have good staple items to some of the stuff I see people forced to buy that we all pay for.

Living hard will take its toll...
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so you don't have the option of staple items with WIC?

that irks me even more, because you are absolutely right - they aren't the most nutritious or economical. a lot of it is what my mom would have considered "a very special treat" in our household.

makes me wonder about the process for putting food on WIC approved lists, and how much lobbying and cross-subsidizing goes on behind the scenes.

hmm....from the WIC website:

6. What food benefits do WIC participants receive?

In most WIC State agencies, WIC participants receive checks or food instruments to purchase specific foods each month which are designed to supplement their diets. WIC food is high in one or more of the following nutrients: protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. These are the nutrients frequently lacking in the diets of the program's low-income target population. Different food packages are provided for different categories of participants. A few WIC State agencies distribute WIC foods through warehouses or deliver WIC foods to participants.

WIC foods include iron-fortified infant formula and infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich fruit and/or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans or peas, tuna fish and carrots. Special infant formulas and certain medical foods may be provided when prescribed by a physician or health professional for a specified medical condition.

Edited by tryska (log)
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Squeat,

Perhaps this was an oversight on your part, but Care Not Cash was endorsed by the voters, to the tune of a 60% margin. It was a judge's ruling that the initiative process could not be used to set that kind of policy that threw it to the Supervisors, where it lost by one vote. Guess who that vote was? Yes, Gonzalez, who just happens to be person who was just defeated in the mayoral runoff. The voters seem to have a pretty clear opinion on this.

Oops! My bad. Creative memory at work again. Let's just say everyone I know voted against it! I do remember now that the voters approved it, but a judge said it had to pass the Supervisors.

Please feel free to not believe anything I say in future.

Squeat

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How they choose what is allowed seems to be more restrictive than food stamps. Sure mom and kids get food but not the most nutritious or economical. Personally I would rather have good staple items to some of the stuff I see people forced to buy that we all pay for.

I don't know where the Government gets it ideas for the WIC approved list, but it seems to consist mostly of high fat, high sugar foods. None of it, except for perhaps dairy products, seems to have any "good" qualities.

I think that staples, flour, milk, rice, etc, would do a helluva lot better than the current crop of crap. But who has time to cook or knows how to cook? The first lawsuit field against McD's in New York, the guy stated that he ate fast food 4-5 times a week. Why? Because he couldn't cook.

Cooking is not that hard, it takes time and practice. But who has the time? Make the time. Buy less, live cheaper. Certain things are hard to control, rent for example, but other things aren't. Do your kids really need another pair of $150.00 sneakers? Actually, do they need that first pair?

The problem is people expect. They expect that if they can't take care of themselves than the Government will. People see nothing wrong with taking a handout, and if you're in dire need there isn't, but you really need to try to get off your ass and improve your situation. How long does the general public have to support someone?

WIC, which is an extension of the welfare program, was never intended to be a permanent solution to your problems. Yet somehow, somewhere, sometime it become that, it's not a lifeline anymore. It's a lifeboat.

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Wow, such anger at those with next to nothing. With the new work requirements, how are welfare mothers supposed to find the time to make everything from scratch? If a mother receiving assistance refused to work in order to stay home and care for her children and prepare their food, she would be labeled as lazy, wouldn't she?

And personal grooming should be the priviledge of the middle class. Tut tut for those expensive hair treatments.

And it would be much easier for those making judgements if, under a certain income threshhold, all designer clothes were clearly labeled as gifts or hand-me-downs.

There is a permanent underclass in this country, like it or not, that has no idea how to cook or shop, because cooking and shopping are for better-off people. If a woman comes home after two bus trips from her minimum wage job and wants to fix Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, or the store brand, should she really face so much moral indignation for buying "junk?"

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I'm with you, Heather.

I also don't understand the anger in response to the experiment described in the article. The point isn't for politicians to be able to claim that they sacrificed, or for the politicians to truly understand what it is like to be poor. The point is to educate the public about the fact that food stamps do not adequately feed a family. By enlisting high-profile figures to attempt to live on food stamps, press coverage and other publicity is achieved, leading one day perhaps to legislation changing the situation.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I worked for the KY Health Department years ago, as a petty bureaucrat, making sure all the rules and regs from the state office were followed in the county health departments.

At that time, WIC recipients (pregnant and nursing mother, infants and children under the age of 5.) could get dried or canned beans, real cheese (not processed), milk, unsugared cereal, real orange juice (not drink) and infant formula. Maybe it's different in other states, but those are the items I see in MO stores with WIC labels.

They were required to show up at the HD for nutrition counseling, which was much more complete than any nutrition counseling I ever recieved from my doc or OB.

Their kids had to be up to date on shots and well-baby checks for the food to keep coming, and pregnant women had to be receiving prenatal care, all things that keep folks healthy and save the taxpayers money later on.

It did, however, piss me off the other day to see a woman paying for her Diet Coke with food stamps. That just ain't right.

sparrowgrass
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There is a permanent underclass in this country, like it or not, that has no idea how to cook or shop, because cooking and shopping are for better-off people.  If a woman comes home after two bus trips from her minimum wage job and wants to fix Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, or the store brand, should she really face so much moral indignation for buying "junk?"

And why don't they know how to cook or shop? Basic cooking skills don't require a degree in rocket science. And when did it become something only for those that are better off? Drop sports from our education system and teach our children about credit, dietary needs, and cooking.

The woman that comes home after two bus trips from her minimum wage job and wants to fix Kraft Macaroni and Cheese? She is not the one that people are pissed off about, it's the one that takes her kids to McDonalds or BK every damn day. And if she can fix the stuff in a box, than she has the skills to fix other things. It takes an effort. And people don't want to make the effort.

In the last 20 or so years, perhaps longer, society, as a whole, has lost track. Lost track of personal responsibilty. "It's not my fault" is the new national mantra. Fat? Sue somebody! Did you participate in a shooting spree that left 11 pople dead? Not my fault, I was brainwashed.

So what if somebody works two jobs? Why is it that I work, yet the lazy shit around the corner with 3 kids doesn't, and she pays less in rent than I do?

At some point a person has to take responsibility for their own actions. Whether we are talking about work, diet, or geneal well being. Why is that some people feel they are owed a free ride?

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Drop sports from our education system and teach our children about credit, dietary needs, and cooking.

I don't think that dropping a class in which people get exercise is going to be good for people's health. Do you mean that you're favoring garden-variety Phys Ed over competitive sports?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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there was a time when women worked full-time if not overtime so they wouldn't have to go on welfare, plus made sure their kids ate well. and made everything from scratch - i still know people like this today.

also there are those who are truly indigent, those that are using welfare to get by during a trying time, and those for whom welfare is a lifestyle. And who those various subsets are is usually self-evident if you spend enough time in lower income culture.

Edited by tryska (log)
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The woman that comes home after two bus trips from her minimum wage job and wants to fix Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?  She is not the one that people are pissed off about, it's the one that takes her kids to McDonalds or BK every damn day.

Do BK and McD's take food stamps? Wasn't assistance the issue?

So what if somebody works two jobs?  Why is it that I work, yet the lazy shit around the corner with 3 kids doesn't, and she pays less in rent than I do?

I'm not sure what you're getting at here.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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There is a permanent underclass in this country, like it or not, that has no idea how to cook or shop, because cooking and shopping are for better-off people.  If a woman comes home after two bus trips from her minimum wage job and wants to fix Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, or the store brand, should she really face so much moral indignation for buying "junk?"

And why don't they know how to cook or shop? Basic cooking skills don't require a degree in rocket science. And when did it become something only for those that are better off? Drop sports from our education system and teach our children about credit, dietary needs, and cooking.

The woman that comes home after two bus trips from her minimum wage job and wants to fix Kraft Macaroni and Cheese? She is not the one that people are pissed off about, it's the one that takes her kids to McDonalds or BK every damn day. And if she can fix the stuff in a box, than she has the skills to fix other things. It takes an effort. And people don't want to make the effort.

In the last 20 or so years, perhaps longer, society, as a whole, has lost track. Lost track of personal responsibilty. "It's not my fault" is the new national mantra. Fat? Sue somebody! Did you participate in a shooting spree that left 11 pople dead? Not my fault, I was brainwashed.

So what if somebody works two jobs? Why is it that I work, yet the lazy shit around the corner with 3 kids doesn't, and she pays less in rent than I do?

At some point a person has to take responsibility for their own actions. Whether we are talking about work, diet, or geneal well being. Why is that some people feel they are owed a free ride?

Taking responsibility is a fine thing, if you are able to do so. But the workplace gets more complex and demanding every year, and I suspect more and more people are being pushed to the margins, through no fault of their own.

I also suspect it is many of these people who become dependent on government for their bare minimum daily living requirements, and wish it wasn't so.

But I do find it hard to resent people who have so little, and such slim prospects of ever getting much more than a handout.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Drop sports from our education system and teach our children about credit, dietary needs, and cooking.

I don't think that dropping a class in which people get exercise is going to be good for people's health. Do you mean that you're favoring garden-variety Phys Ed over competitive sports?

I forgot about the excercise part, so we can't drop sports. But something has got to be done, I find it amazing that there are so many people, poor or rich, that don't know how to cook.

Poeple argue that they don't have time to cook, well look at what they do have time for. It's a matter of priorities.

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Wow, such anger at those with next to nothing. With the new work requirements, how are welfare mothers supposed to find the time to make everything from scratch? If a mother receiving assistance refused to work in order to stay home and care for her children and prepare their food, she would be labeled as lazy, wouldn't she?

Granted the system is not perfect and people abuse the system. Hence where a lot of the as you put it “anger” comes from. Part one of the problem would seem to be the system is neither designed to or encourages getting off assistance. So mom and child get to live in the same sort of apartment that I do. They pay 10% to do so. I don’t have a problem with that on the surface.

In the same apartment there are several other people that come and go and use the place as a flop. So now my taxes are not just paying for mother and child but all sorts of friends and relatives. They also have every cable service offered. If they are that bad off how can they afford that? Not cool in my book.

Some of the direct food surplus programs are flawed but do try and help. The first time I ever saw Cashew butter was not at the store but in a food bank I volunteered at. Heck I’ll take that over peanut butter anytime. But this was a case of government agencies and private business making donations. Not a state run program that mandates what items are purchased and how. I would think that frozen juice concentrate would be better than Juice Juice or any other sugar laden belly wash.

Again this is where a lot of people get confused. It’s not giving people that need it help but how they get it. It’s also sad that there are people that need help and can’t get it because they make a little too much or have a little too nice of a car. But others in the system seem to be living a better life. I remember a friend I had growing up. Her family had to hide the phone and other things like the TV when the welfare people came over. How things have changed. The poor in this country are better off than any place else.

Living hard will take its toll...
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I want to point out that as a nation we provide less aid to the poor than we did twenty years ago. Income stratification has also increased during the same period. And all forms of aid to the poor make up a truly miniscule portion of the federal and state budgets.

Throughout history, the poor have been with us-- and society has always felt the urge to divide them into the "worthy" and the "unworthy." Recent moral decay has nothing to do with it. Much as I hate Hippies, it isn't their fault.

Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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[ The woman that comes home after two bus trips from her minimum wage job and wants to fix Kraft Macaroni and Cheese? She is not the one that people are pissed off about, it's the one that takes her kids to McDonalds or BK every damn day. And if she can fix the stuff in a box, than she has the skills to fix other things. It takes an effort. And people don't want to make the effort.

Better yet is the following example. In NJ you can get change of under $1.00 on food stamps. So I can’t recall how many times working as a clerk (my second job.) in a convenience store I would se a mother hand a 10 dollar food stamp to one child and have them buy a small item, get change and then send her other children in to buy small items under a buck to then come in with a handful of silver to buy smokes. Nothing you could do about it! Great to watch the system working.

This is the stuff that ticks people off.

Living hard will take its toll...
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