Could you eat well enough on food stamps?
In Sunday’s Gazette, our lead Marketplace story explored ways to eat on a budget. It suggested saving by finding alternatives to bacon and beef. Interesting.
One in three Milwaukee residents lives in poverty, and one in two children goes to bed hungry, according to the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee.
Poverty is growing in our own community, too. Percentages of children qualifying for reduced-price or free school lunches because they come from low-income families have been rising in recent years.
The Milwaukee task force issued the Food Stamp Challenge. It meant living on $1.50 per meal, $4.50 per day or $31.50 per week.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist/editorial writer James E. Causey tried it. He says it left him hungry, humbled and educated.
Causey drove to stores where he could shop during double coupon days or save on bargains. He realizes many people living on food stamps don’t have ready transportation.
Still, he typically enjoys a healthy diet that includes soy milk, fish and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. He says he went to bed hungry most nights.
Causey detailed his meals in Sunday’s Journal Sentinel. On two mornings, for example, he ate nothing more than a banana. One dinner consisted of a baked potato and a half chicken breast.
As I’ve said before in this blog, I love to eat. My breakfast this morning included a large bowl of cereal topped with blueberries, as well as a glass of juice. Oh, and a banana.
Start my day with just the banana and my stomach would be growling by 9 a.m.
Causey made two more important observations. First, he suggests that many people on food stamps get meals in other ways—from food pantries, through dinners at food sites or relatives’ homes. Second, he noted that with our nation facing an obesity epidemic, food stamps should have restrictions on sugary snacks, chips, sodas, cookies and cakes. That would force healthier choices. He said that while shopping at Aldi, a family ahead of him at the checkout was overdrawn on its food stamps. The family had to put back ice tea, Popsicles, ice cream and bags of chips.
I’ve often heard from our readers similar criticisms about people using food stamps to buy unhealthy options.
You can read Causey’s full report by clicking here.
What do you think? Could you eat—and eat healthy—on $4.50 per day?