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Bureaucrats try food stamp diet


fresco
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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?"

Bravo, Heather.

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The poor in this country are better off than any place else.

Have you done a careful comparison with the situation poor people are in in more egalitarian countries - like most other industrialized countries - such that you can make this statement authoritatively? And, to get this back to the topic of food, how about the diets of poor people in Canada, Europe, and Japan? Are they better (more nutritious, less pesticide-laden, whatever) than the diets of poor people in the U.S., and if so (how would we establish that, though?), isn't that a measure of being "better off"? I think we'd all be better off not posting rhetoric and slogans and sticking to things that are quantifiable or at least qualifiable. Otherwise, we'll just have a "Yes it is!" "No it isn't!" shouting match, which will neither serve anyone nor be entertaining. :biggrin:

Tsk, Pan, there you go again, trying to insert sanity and reason into a topic that was CLEARLY intended to invite nothing but bombast and hot air. Will you never learn?

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I think there is a serious lack of education about cooking and shopping. This should be taught to kids before they ever get a high school diploma, as well as how to vote, how to balance a checking account, and other necessary skills. My school taught all these things to all students, and I can't imagine how difficult it would be to be let lose in the real world with no idea how to complete these tasks.

I don't know about a realistic figure for a family of four. There are just two of us in my home and recipe testing causes the grocery bill to vary a lot. But I do think that just because someone is poor -- keeping in mind that some people who qualify for food stamps are working full time at large chain stores or even serving in our military -- deserve more than just beans and rice. Not that there is anything wrong with beans and rice -- I love them -- but I think forcing people to live on a miniscule food budget could add insult to injury.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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I think there is a serious lack of education about cooking and shopping. This should be taught to kids before they ever get a high school diploma, as well as how to vote, how to balance a checking account, and other necessary skills. My school taught all these things to all students, and I can't imagine how difficult it would be to be let lose in the real world with no idea how to complete these tasks.

I'm not against this -- I seem to recall that they used to call it Home Ec and all the girls took it while the boys were in shop.

Keep in mind, however, that schools in many poor areas are failing to teach basic English and Mathematical skills, and that schools across the country are slashing non-academic programs in the face of severe budget problems. Throwing another mandate on top of all this may not be a realistic option.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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The only thing I can come up with at the moment is the "Experiment" that was carried out reminded me of several years ago Tipper Gore and some other wives tried living for a month (if I recall) on fed assistance in a project or whatever, and I seem to also recall a similar decision that you can't do it. I do recall thinking "yep, and most folks ain't got Secret Service." I don't know why the politicos didn't EXCHANGE their existance for a week with their counterparts. Maybe that way people would be at least just as cogent of what their life was not like.

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... without making them either punitive or mandatory?

That would be a trick. I really believe that with a little more knowledge, and a gentle push in the right direction, more people would cook for themselves.

This makes a lot of assumptions: does the family have pots and pans, dishes to eat from, a working kitchen, electricity, or even a grocery store in their neighborhood? In one marginal neighborhood I lived in, the market was poorly stocked and dangerous at night. The nearest with a decent selection was a $2 subway ride away.

And just an aside:

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?

If the kids weren't hers, and she made $5 an hour, that would be considered "working."

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I have hesitated posting any thing in this forum without first having the information concerning me. Now I have it thanks to the fact that my wife is a Quicken wiz and an anal retentive bookeeeper (and I mean this in the nicest, most complimentary way, because I am neither of those things).

Mrs Mayhaw and I are both 42. We have children who are 14 and 11. The fourteen year old is 6'2" and the 11 year old is on the same growth track, apparently. So basically I am feeding 3 adults and one almost adult..

Over the last 12 months we have spent an average of $800 per month on food. This includes lunch items for the youngest, who prefers to take his lunch to school and lunch for my wife at work, who brown bags it as well (primarily because she is often in the Gallery by herself during business hours and can't leave, lest she miss some desparate art patron with 5 grand they need to blow during lunch). We eat well. Compared to many people we eat really well. Incidentally, I am not really pushy about it, but most nights we all sit down at the dinner table. If we don't, no big deal, but I like it and everyone else seems to like it well enough to not complain much.

I do most of the shopping. I know what things should cost, what they might cost next week, etc. I am good at it and know how to find a good deal and work with what I have purchased. I do most of the cooking as well (Mrs Mayhaw is an excellent cook, but she is not fast and is very messy, so she prefers to cook only for occasions). My shopping habits are thus (and incidentally, I could cut the trips way down, but I actually like grocery shopping):

Local Family (but Really great) grocery store - 5 days per week

Wal Mart-Once every two weeks for a big staples trip

Local Vegetable Stand- 3 or 4 times a weeks

Meat Market- Twice a Week

Sam's Wholesale Disc.- Once a month for cheese and some other staples

Various seafood outlets and individual guys 3 times per month

All of this seems to average out to about $800, and this would include a fair amount of seafood and fish that is actually rather cheap here in South Louisiana (while it is available, but the shrimp guys are going out of business right and left due to competition from Southeast Asia, but that is something for another forum).

Our diet is also supplemented by game during the winter months (ducks mainly, along with at least one whole deer). I also buy fresh peas and butterbeans in the summer and freeze. I can some relishes and get all my jelly (guess what kind :biggrin: ) from my Mom, who makes the most stupendous Mayhaw jelly on the face of the earth.

Virtually everything I cook is from scratch (although I will sing the praises of those frozen biscuits, Sister Schubert's Rolls, and Arrowhead Mills Basic Cornbread Mix)and generally I am only cooking for that meal only (with leftovers going to next days lunch), with the exception of soups and stews. We do make some things on Sunday (usually, if we feel like it ) that can be pulled out of the freezer later in the week -casseroles, etc.

Could we do it on $500 a month? Probably.

Would we be happy about it? Absolutely not.

Could we eat a healthy diet at $500 per month? Yes.

What this does not include is dining out. I need to add some for that, but I have not, as we don't do it as a group very often and when we do it kind of fits into another part of our budget (entertainment/travel for you quicken nuts).

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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The poor in this country are better off than any place else.

Have you done a careful comparison with the situation poor people are in in more egalitarian countries - like most other industrialized countries - such that you can make this statement authoritatively? And, to get this back to the topic of food, how about the diets of poor people in Canada, Europe, and Japan? Are they better (more nutritious, less pesticide-laden, whatever) than the diets of poor people in the U.S., and if so (how would we establish that, though?), isn't that a measure of being "better off"? I think we'd all be better off not posting rhetoric and slogans and sticking to things that are quantifiable or at least qualifiable. Otherwise, we'll just have a "Yes it is!" "No it isn't!" shouting match, which will neither serve anyone nor be entertaining. :biggrin:

Tsk, Pan, there you go again, trying to insert sanity and reason into a topic that was CLEARLY intended to invite nothing but bombast and hot air. Will you never learn?

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Okay- this is sticking my neck out here, but 800-1000 bucks on groceries for a family of four is way over the top, IMHO. I mean, if you're that affluent and you enjoy eating premium foods that's fine, but recognize that that is not a reasonable budget for most households. For many households it might represent 40% or more of the family income. I am on several email lists for women with large families (not because I have one yet, but because I want one) and they generally spend 400-600 to feed their families (between 8-14 people). They cook from scratch or buy from co-ops. I thought we had a runaway grocery budget because I sometimes spend $400 per month on just the four of us.

I'm not trying to be holier-than-thou: spend it if you've got it. But most of us don't and we still manage to eat well.

Our family enjoys grain or bean-centered breakfasts. Some examples are millet with milk and honey, oatmeal, brown rice cooked in milk with brown sugar. I also like black beans for breakfast with red wine vinegar. Sometimes fried eggs over slices of polenta. Homemade scones or muffins appear regularly.

Lunch might be homemade soup or a wholegrain pasta dish with vegetable. Maybe a pie or fritatta made from last night's leftovers. Lunchmeat is very expensive and I'd rather forego it altogether than eat inferior brands with fillers (we like Boar's Head) so we don't really eat it.

Dinner varies but we rarely buy meat other than ground chuck or chicken thighs (I also like duck and sometimes lamb shank stew). Since I've been pregnant and/

or nursing since my honeymoon, we only buy wine for cooking.

When we really stick to the above, our family of four could eat very nutritiously for under $200 per month. We rarely stick to it because we can afford and enjoy extras. I think of things like ice cream, jam, orange juice, out-of-season fruit other than bananas, and bacon as "extras." Also, we very frequently entertain and have others for dinner. And things still go moldy in our fridge and we toss out wasted food. :sad:

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Our grocery costs are way over the top, then, but our numbers include diapers, toiletries, and various copayments for my daughter's allergy, eczema, and asthma medications, including lotion that is $5 per tube, not covered by insurance.

Where do you live? You can reasonably assume that groceries are not the same price everywhere.

Edit: bacon is not an "extra" in my house. :wink:

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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this is true - i still can't believe the prices you are paying for meats are almost 2 dollars higher then what I pay down here, heather. i've been trying to figure out why that owuld be - and the only thing i'm coming up with is logistics. grocery stores typically run on extremely small margins.

Edited by tryska (log)
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Okay- this is sticking my neck out here, but 800-1000 bucks on groceries for a family of four is way over the top, IMHO.  I mean, if you're that affluent and you enjoy eating premium foods that's fine, but recognize that that is not a reasonable budget for most households.  For many households it might represent 40% or more of the family income.  I am on several email lists for women with large families (not because I have one yet, but because I want one) and they generally spend 400-600 to feed their families (between 8-14 people).  They cook from scratch or buy from co-ops.  I thought we had a runaway grocery budget because I sometimes spend $400 per month on just the four of us.

I'm not trying to be holier-than-thou: spend it if you've got it.  But most of us don't and we still manage to eat well. 

Our family enjoys grain or bean-centered breakfasts.  Some examples are millet with milk and honey, oatmeal, brown rice cooked in milk with brown sugar.  I also like black beans for breakfast with red wine vinegar.  Sometimes fried eggs over slices of polenta.  Homemade scones or muffins appear regularly.

Lunch might be homemade soup or a wholegrain pasta dish with vegetable.  Maybe a pie or fritatta made from last night's leftovers.  Lunchmeat is very expensive and I'd rather forego it altogether than eat inferior brands with fillers (we like Boar's Head) so we don't really eat it. 

Dinner varies but we rarely buy meat other than ground chuck or chicken thighs (I also like duck and sometimes lamb shank stew).  Since I've been pregnant and/

or nursing since my honeymoon, we only buy wine for cooking.

When we really stick to the above, our family of four could eat very nutritiously for under $200 per month.  We rarely stick to it because we can afford and enjoy extras.  I think of things like ice cream, jam, orange juice, out-of-season fruit other than bananas, and bacon as "extras."  Also, we very frequently entertain and have others for dinner.  And things still go moldy in our fridge and we toss out wasted food. :sad:

I can think of no better extravagance than good food and drink.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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this is true - i still can't believe the prices you are paying for meats are almost 2 dollars higher then what I pay down here, heather. i've been trying to figure out why that owuld be - and the only thing i'm coming up with is logistics. grocery stores typically run on extremely small margins.

There are lots of stores here, some very close together, so that's a good point.

I checked last night, and the "half-price" Super G (store brand, generic, non-organic) chicken breasts were still 2.49/lb, regular price $4.99. Regular 80/20 ground beef was on sale for $3.49/lb.

The items I find to be outrageously priced are cold breakfast cereals, no matter where you shop for them. We eat a lot of oatmeal at our house.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I suppose that I could live differently, but then again, why would I? We enjoy food the way that many families enjoy hobbies together and it is something that we all enjoy. It brings us all together at one time most days, as many days this is the only time that we all get together thanks to all of the diversions of the modern, kids must pack as much as possible into their lives and both parents work hard world.

This is expendable income that many people choose to spend on cars, bigger houses than they need, etc. and outside of a rediculous tennis habit, it is what I do for enjoyment. I am very lucky in that my circumstances (both financially and culturally) allow for the acquisition of interesting things to cook and eat on a regular basis and I see no reason to live otherwise.

I have been fortunate enough to become fairly well traveled in my life and enjoy more than gumbo and chicken sauce piquant on my table and am an able and willing cook.

My point in my post was that I found this topic interesting enough to do a little research and figure out what we spent. I have to admit that I thought it would be a bit higher figure than we came up with. As I pointed out in my post I think that we could certainly do with less, but it would not be nearly as enjoyable and I think that I would get bored using the same basic ingrediants over and over again.

And, if we are talking academic excercise here, I think that my family could exist on much less. I could easily FEED four people for 300 a month, but they would not be very happy people and I am of the opinion that one of the reasons I work the way I do and strive to be a success financially is so that I can not only provide the basics for my family, but also provide some extras that are not really needed, but certainly appreciated. I live in a very small town of mostly moderate circumstances and my children are very aware that they are lucky to be in the situation they are. I spent enough time in my life pretty close to broke that I make sure that they understand that work or a whole bunch of luck and good circumstances are needed to get ahead in the world as it stands today.

To me cooking and eating is life, not surviving. Surviving is a whole 'nother matter.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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The items I find to be outrageously priced are cold breakfast cereals, no matter where you shop for them. We eat a lot of oatmeal at our house.

i agree - which was my point on the WIC foods on that lady's conveyor belt -

it's government listed, but for $4.29 i can easily get 2 big cans, if not more, of oats. just seems that if our tax money is going to fund these programs we could stand to do it in the most economical and healthful way possible.

for the cereal that was bought, that family could have oats for a month, plus the fiber.

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The items I find to be outrageously priced are cold breakfast cereals, no matter where you shop for them.  We eat a lot of oatmeal at our house.

i agree - which was my point on the WIC foods on that lady's conveyor belt -

it's government listed, but for $4.29 i can easily get 2 big cans, if not more, of oats. just seems that if our tax money is going to fund these programs we could stand to do it in the most economical and healthful way possible.

for the cereal that was bought, that family could have oats for a month, plus the fiber.

But this is a tricky area. It's demeaning enough, I imagine, being dependent on government handouts to buy food without someone spelling out, item by item, what you should and shouldn't buy.

One of the most unpopular moves by a hard-nosed bunch who ran our provincial government a while back was cutting welfare payments below the bone and then having the minister responsible get up in the legislature and piously lecture recipients about saving money by buying things like--no kidding--dented tins of tuna.

Even the people who otherwise wholeheartedly supported this bunch were pretty revolted.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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i agree it is a tricky area - and it's quite demeaning - i went through a spot one time, when i felt that PA was my only way out - and man - the hoops you have to jump through to actually get the pittance you get were enough for me to figure out an alternative. I still keep the card tho to remind me of where i have been in my life.

my point tho is not - "let them eat beans and rice" forever - altho as a working stiff, refusing to go on welfare, i will choose beans and rice if i have to, and skip the visit to the stylist - matter of fact the reason i don't have a perfect manicure now is because nails jsut aren't a good enough return on my investment. My point is (i swear i'm getting to it) - if this program is supposed to be about ensuring disadvantaged families and those most at risk for malnutrition have healthy meals, subsidizing oatmeal is a lot more economical and nutritious then subsidizing cap'n crunch - i don't care how many vitamins and minerals it may have.

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is that pride in consumerism tho, you know what i mean?

to go back to the example of the cap'n crunch - kids like it cuz it's high in sugar. kids want it because it's marketed aggressively to them.

i would much rather see "treats" like that be something you can buy with foodstamps, and not on a WIC list.

Edited by tryska (log)
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I live in Houston and have a family of five - myself, husband and three teenagers aged 17, and 14 year-old twins. There are usually other teens hanging around at dinner time that are always welcome as well.

I estimate that I spend on average $600 a month on groceries - give or take. That does not include any beef - we buy all of ours in bulk and to order from my husbands uncle who has a butcher shop in South Texas. I estimate about 600-800 per year for beef.

My husband does most of the shopping as he loves it. Plans it out like a mission using the sales circulars of the week. I don't buy a lot of candy, cookies etc... as my kids just don't eat it. I do buy some "pre-packaged" foods, but that is just for my convenience. We both work and our kids are very active in sports and many nights there are games after work.

I have not always been able to spend that much, and I am confident that with some planning I could manage on 300 a month, but we would not like it.

As for the experiment - I had nothing to eat but put-up black-eyed peas for two weeks during my college years. All I learned was that I did not want to do that again, and worked hard so I never would have to . I still love peas though!

If you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen - Calpurnia

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