Home > Food Stamp Challenge > The Food Stamp Diet

The Food Stamp Diet

Ramen Noodles Compliments Of My Brother’s Bachelor Pad

With all of the talk about The Food Stamp Challenge, issued by The Oregon Food Bank and taken up by Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski, this past April, I just can not help but, wonder about the impact that living on $3 a day, makes on the 25 million American families that are being fed on that amount.

For those who may not know, $3 is the National average received by the many families currently relying on food stamps to feed their families. According to Toledo’s news station, ABC Channel 13, Ohio’s Food Stamp usage has increased by 71% in the past 6 years, 1.1 million Ohioans are currently receiving food stamps and it is estimated that 500,000 more may be eligible for the program, but have not applied. These startling numbers may be partly due to the fact that the usage of debit cards has reduced the stigma involved in using food stamps, but it is also offers a glimpse of our local economy. “A majority of these families are working families, and I think the public really needs to hear that,” said Laura Holton, community services director of the Fairfield County JFS. “Our unemployment rate might not be that bad, but the wages just aren’t enough.”

As I consider the various circumstances that may have led a family to applying for food stamps and the many children who have no choice, but to be fed on that amount, my heart just aches and I can not help but wonder how many of them went to bed after an entire day of eating inexpensive highly processed and refined foods or worse yet, very little at all… How many of them are sleeping under a roof with two parents? How many of them belong to and are growing up in the ever increasing number of working poor families who have to work very long hard hours and sometimes two jobs to make ends meet, often only managing to barely scrape by. How much of their time is spent obsessing about food and wondering where their next meal will come from? Last but not least, what in the world do you feed a family with no more then $21 per person a week?

With those thoughts in mind, my husband and I have decided to participate in the highly publicized, Food Stamp Challenge. As we do so, we will spend the week focusing on what we can do within our local community to help support organizations that focus on offering aid and assistance to those who are literally hungry for it. Our plan is to begin the challenge on Sunday and will follow the Oregon Food Bank’s suggestion of imagining our pantry is bare and that the $42 we would technically receive on food stamps will be needed to start from scratch.

In order to keep this experiment as realistic as possible we have decided to adopt a few other stipulations that are no doubt, common variables currently shaping the lives of many who seek out the help of government assistance. For one we are going to consider the need for public transportation, the ever rising cost of gas, and the type of vehicle that a minimum wage paying job would afford us. Eating local in this case will be imperative, however it will more often then not mean shopping for affordable food within a 5 mile radius of our home. Because many at poverty level often have to work long, odd/irregular hours, not to mention those performing manual labor, we are choosing to limit our shopping to a minimum of 2 locations and will keep our menu as simple as possible. As for food preparation, I think it is fair to say that to truly relate, my Kitchen Aid Mixer, favorite gadgets, small kitchen appliances, and cookbook collection should probably go unused for the week. Also in keeping with the theme, food preparation will be focused on quick, recipes that do not require much time or effort, basically meals that require no more then 15 minutes of active prep time. Last but not least, reflecting on the rising costs of health care and the fact that having to go to the doctor for a prescription can be a major financial set back for many families, attempting to eat healthy well balanced meals as much as possible will be a natural part our my focus. Oh, and the hitch, we are going to try to incorporate as many natural, organic, and sustainable foods into my grocery list as possible without breaking the bank, running out of food, and having to use our pocket change to stock up on Ramen Noodles. To be honest, we are not even sure that it is possible on a food stamp budget, but we definitely think it is worth a try.

This upcoming Sunday will be the first day of the challenge for us and I will be recording our thoughts and progress daily.

In the meantime, be sure to take a peek at the Blog of Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who is currently embarking on The Food Stamp Challenge and recording his experiences as he does.

If you have not already, please take a moment to contemplate the implications of the challenge and what you would do if you had to feed each member of your family on no more then $1 per meal. Could you handle the challenge?

Food Stamp Challenge

9 Responses to “The Food Stamp Diet”

  1. Avi says:

    This is really very interesting. I hope you are able to blog about your meals regularly. I will write about this on my blog too after you get rolling, although I am not from or in the US. When I was in the US and had to eat cheap I would usually throw loads of veggies and canned meats in the rice cooker with rice or in a pot with noodles. With loads of spices. Good luck.

  2. Joanie (EJ) says:

    This really made me think! It would take a good deal of thought and preparation to make this diet a workable one. I look forward to the results you have and to reading about how you obtained these results.
    I must say I have enjoyed all of your entries and have made your blog part of my day!

  3. Loren says:

    Unfortunately this challenge will have to be postponed as my husband is recovering from an unexpected emergency surgery. However, it is still weighing very heavily on my mind and when we are feeling up to the challenge, I promise to post our meals and their cost frequently.

    I highly doubt that many will find them to be inspiring, but I do hope to create at least a couple of healthy recipes that could be helpful for a family entirely dependent on Food Stamps.

    Avi, Many thanks for your encouragement! I have a feeling that rice, beans, and inexpensive vegetables are going to be a staple for us while on the Food Stamp Challenge. I look forward to reading about it in your blog as well.

    EJ, You are such an awesome friend and I am completely flattered that you have been following my blog. Many thanks for all of the ways you have inspired me…

    As for the diet, I do think it is going to take quite a bit of leg work to make it possible and to keep us from cheating while on it. My heart truly aches for those it is second nature and an everyday part of life. Just thinking about it that fact causes me to ponder one of my favorite quotes…

    “Be the change that you wish to see in the World.” ~Gandhi

    For now, I am off to help my husband recover as I ponder that thought…

    In the meantime, many thanks to all who have read this and have taken a moment to consider the plight of those reliant on US Food Stamps to sustain their family.

  4. Anna says:

    You go girl! You may be interested to check out RESULTS for other actions (supporting legislation) that can be taken to help people help themselves. http://www.results.org

  5. Colette says:

    I work with low-income families that live on food stamps. I would suggest that you check out your local WIC office (Women, Infant and Children) and Extension offices. I know our office has low cost recipes, that are quick and easy to prepare. I also use recipes from Quick cooking (Taste of Home) that are listed as .99 cents per plate (if you would like some of these I would be happy to send you some.

    I think it would be good to see someone taking this challenge go to a local food bank to supplement their food resources. In my experience, the food at food banks is frequently random and not always healthy.

    Good Luck!

  6. Loren says:

    Anna,

    I just took some time to check out the RESULTS website and I am very intrigued. I will research it over the course of the weekend… In the meantime, I wanted to say thank you for offering me the tools to follow my heart. Much Appreciated!

    Colette,

    These are all excellent suggestions… Many thanks for sharing them! I will definitely incorporate all of them during the challenge. However, I don’t think I could bring myself to actually accept food from a food bank, as I would much rather leave it for those who need it far more then I do… Instead, I think I will focus on volunteering at a local Food Bank or Pantry for a day and blogging about the experience as well as writing a commentary on the food that is passed out.

  7. [...] a month ago, when my husband and I had decided to participate in the widely debated and discussed Food Stamp Challenge, our purpose for doing so, was to bring awareness to the alarming problem of food insecurity in this [...]

  8. Amie says:

    As one of the millions of Americans who receives food stamps, I appreciate your pointing out that most who benefit are, indeed, employed. When my husband lost his high paying job last year, we were forced to accept government assistance. At the time we had two small children and I was pregnant with our third. We had three children because we thought we could “afford” them.

    Then, in an instant, we were poor. Dirt poor. We’ve tried for a year to pull ourselves out of this slump. We will eventually, but in the meantime, we’re thankful for the government programs that keep our children fed.

    I do know that there are people out there who abuse the system, but I implore your readers to stop assuming all of us do. I began using cloth diapers to cut costs (when our third was born, all three were in diapers). We walk anywhere within distance to save on gas. DH carpools to work. I have found many sources of income that trickle in from time to time. We are anything by lazy fat moochers with a sense of entitlement… and many other food stamp families are just like us.

  9. Lisa says:

    There are millions of Americans who are truly in need of assistance in order to make ends meet. I also believe that there are millions that take advantage of the system, which is sad. If there was a way to weed out those who abuse the system, then maybe we could better assistance to those whom are truly in need. I have wittnessed first hand a family going into the local mini-mart and using their food stamp card for sodas, candy, snack cakes, to the tune of around $15.00. I questioned the clerk and she said that they are regular customers and that once or twice a month they use there food stamp card. In any case, there is no reason for anyone in the United States to go hungry. There just needs to be some accountability somewhere with these food programs, so those who are truly in need don’t go without.

  10. christina says:

    You know, this is an interesting blog and what a challenge. However, if we didn’t have so many lazy Americans signing up for food stamps we probably would alot more than 3.00 per day for food. I grew up in low class and middle class economy when I was younger. I witnessed a LOT of drug users that would trade their food stamps (pre-debit card) for drugs. And even after debit cards were invented… the drug user would kindly take their dealer to the grocery or get a list of grocery items from their dealer so they can swap food for drugs. No. When I was a small child my family was on welfare and food stamps, but that was when my father was laid off from factory to factory. He kept getting out there and looking for a job. He NEVER had us living off of food stamps as a living. A LOT of Americans now sit back and live on food stamps and welfare as a means of an income and WE pay for them to be lazy. It sickens me. I may not have money for my retirement (social security) because I am feeding the lazy today. Bull doo doo. I wouldn’t even give them 3.00 a day.

Leave a Reply