Benefits Chart

# In householdAverage daily $ per person*Total food budget
1 person $3.71 $18.55
2 people $3.71 $37.10
3 people $3.71 $55.65
4 people $3.71 $74.20

*# of household members participating x $18.55 = Total food budget

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Jodi: Data Come To Life

At Three Square, I work with numbers every day, but yesterday, I had an epiphany.

Feeding America did a great study in 2011 wherein they used data from Nielson about people's purchasing habits at the grocery store. It was determined through this survey, that people - who say they don't have enough money (or SNAP) to buy what they need for the week - on average need an additional $13. (Click here to read about Map the Meal Gap)

That makes total sense to me now. Aaron and I bought lots of fresh produce for our salads each day of the week, and made a very healthy (and tasty) chicken chili for our dinners. In answering the question though: "What have I been missing?" Coffee, eggs, cheese, milk and bread. To buy those items - $13.84. And if I couldn't supplement my benefits with other income, I would be headed to a food pantry too.

A study I recently read on the most common foods purchased with SNAP benefits reported, in order: Milk and dairy products, non-canned vegetables, non-canned fruit, potatoes and beans. What's not on this list? Meat. What did a lot of us cut back on this week? Meat. When I ask our Agency Partners why people line up so early in the morning for food distribution when those of us in the background feel so confident that we won't run out of food, they respond: Meat.

People depending on SNAP for all, or even half of their monthly food budget, are really relying on very little. I have a renewed sense of energy and purpose about protecting SNAP benefits - in particular the ARRA stimulus, which raised the average benefit 17%. Truly, the sunset for ARRA funds for SNAP, which is due to sunset in early 2013, should be delayed. How much different would your SNAP Experience have been if it were $17.50 for five days?!

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