|# In household||Average daily $ per person||Total food budget|
|5 or more||$3.39|
Susan: The Meat of the Matter
My son and I do not eat meat a lot. We do eat a lot of tofu, rice, and noodles. We usually have produce every day and always at each dinner meal. Except for my Chinese snack on Monday, I have stayed in or slightly under budget the past three days. I have had to cut down on the quantity of food, though.
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?!
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman
What have I been missing? Well, I didn't get to put any fruit on my meal plan this week. And, there's not much variety in my vegetables. It's a good thing that I love tomato soup!
Tomorrow evening, SNAP Experience will end for me, but I recognize this is more difficult for the thousands of Nevadans depending on SNAP that don't have an end date in sight right now.
Thank goodness for Three Square and for neighborhood pantries where people on SNAP can supplement their food supply!
Finally bought my can of tuna! Was hoping for a mega sale at the 99 Cents Only Store where I might be able to snag two cans for 99 cents. No such luck! I did find a can for 89 cents versus 99 cents though. Sadness set in when I realized I was 14 cents short to buy two cans of tuna. I think I would have been better off going to Food4Less (or Food, More or Less as my friend calls it) because tuna cans there sell for about 62 cents. I didn't want to spend the extra time and gas.
Lunch was an open faced cold tuna sandwich. If the portion looks small, it was! Just about a tablespoon scoop on each side. I saved half of the tuna or more than half for my son. For dessert, some blackberries and cottage cheese. This is like 80's diet food when everyone got a scoop of tuna, a scoop of cottage cheese and a few slices of tomato and then secretly drove through McDonald's right after.
Jocelyn: Reaching the End
- For me, it will end. I am counting the days and I think of the families that don’t have an end day for their struggles.
- I am relieved that I didn’t have my family do the challenge with me. I can’t imagine worrying if my children were struggling with hunger and so thankful that I had this choice.
- I can’t think! How do children who skipped breakfast or even more meals concentrate and learn in school?
- So many families in the state of Nevada rely on SNAP benefits to help feed their families. It is difficult to imagine what would happen without them.
Deppensmiths: Go Protein!
We've found a rhythm, a new norm - almost. I can honestly say I am not hungry, but, like so many other participants I miss the snacking. During the day when our daughter goes down for a nap it's usually my time to eat, to graze. Midday for Alex usually consists a nice trip to the employee dining room or to the office next door to see what goodies have been brought to share. I miss the snacking - the ease of grabbing whatever sounds tasty. I'm thinking that the absence of snacks is probably a gentle wake-up call to adopt this new norm entirely...
Our meals today were very satisfying. Good thing Alex loves pasta - he had last night's leftovers for lunch (pasta w/ peas) and tonight we made pasta with sauteed onions, spinach, and one sausage link. Today at the store I was able to pick up our chicken for tomorrow's meal and saw that a sausage link was a dollar - we had exactly $3.57 remaining, and I spent that exact amount! As we are carnivore's...the sausage was delicious! It brought so much more flavor to the dish and satisfied us completely.
Marvalyn: Only One Vegetable Today
Stayed within budget and enjoyed my cabbage. I love vegetables. My problem is I love sweets and starches, more (smile)!
This is my menu for today 1/25/12
Susan: Finding the Best Produce
Being able to buy some items on sale helps to stretch the budget. Buying produce at specific markets on sale helps a lot. The asian and hispanic markets are very good when shopping for specific produce. Also, the quality of the produce is excellent. Not much left, if any, of the budget for snacks.
Edwina: To Be Or Not To Be - Satisfied
I've managed to stay full but at the unrecognized price of satisfaction.
Before this week, satisfaction is something I have been blessed to have when it comes to eating and drinking. I can eat what I want, when I want it, in the quantities I want, cooked by whom I choose, but it's a blessing not to be taken for granted. Many others who have worked as hard and perhaps even harder than me are not as fortunate today!
Day One- Menu called for milk with breakfast but on second thought,I might get hungry between meals. So I drank water and sure enough, the milk came in handy later in the day. Not because it would satisfy me then, but because I was hungry and for $.18, it was filling. Even though I was a few cents below budget, not enough to cover the cost of more vegetables for a healthy diet - Again, a ding on satisfaction.
In my family, we have always tried to eat within a few dollars budget a day. I'm an avid couponer which is the only way I know to do it successfully without having to eat less.
My son is 4.5 months so he must have formula because his tummy is too sensative to my breast milk. But I buy the Target brand because all baby formula is regulated by the FDA so they are pretty much created equal. He eats around $2.86 a day in formula.
Yesterday, I ate $1.52 in food. Today will be less because yesterday I splurged and drank a soda and had a peanut buttercup.
A great way to get produce for cheap is to only buy what you are going to eat for the next 2 days. I go to the store a lot but I have very little waste. Example: 2 bananas at a farmers market should only cost you about $.40. Farmers markets are your friend.
Assemblywoman April Mastroluca: The Joys of Cooking
January 25, 2012
Today is the end of day three of the SNAP Experience. The first day wasn’t too bad. I had cereal for breakfast, a cheese quesadilla for lunch and sloppy joes with green beans for dinner. Since then, it has gotten more difficult. I have been busy and it is frustrating to not be able to grab something while I am out or just open the fridge and eat something quickly. Like a few other participants, I have noticed that I am hungrier than I am used to being and that has made me cranky and I have been having headaches.
One of the things I will take away from this experience is that I realize how much I really do enjoy cooking and that I haven’t had the time to do as often as I would like. When your choices are so limited, there is a challenge to be creative, but you can only make so many things. I hope to use this as a reminder to make the time to cook for my family.
Rosalind: Let's Start Growing Our Own Foods Again!
This experience has pretty much validated what I've always known. We eat way too much. (My family and I included) We eat too many snacks, too much processed food, too much soda, too much meat, too much of everything! Upon reading the posts, many people are saying they miss their snacks, which is now unaffordable. People are saying they aren't getting enough protein, others have no energy, and some are just plain hungry. When I did my shopping for this challenge, I couldn't believe just how much junk food costs! Bacon is $4/pkg, sausage is $3.50/pkg, a single bottle of soda is $1.50 now, pastries are $3-$4 a box. How the heck can people afford to buy junk food is what I want to know!
Poly: Feeling Refreshed After Midweek Slump
I'm feeling a renewed sense of commitment this morning to the SNAP experience. Last night, I had to talk myself off the ledge because I was totally ready to quit! But, a quitter? I am not a quitter and I will see this through no matter how rough.
This morning, with my renewed spirit, I treated my son to a fun and delicious breakfast: waffles with banana AND strawberry! This cost us our very last banana and the last of our strawberries. Waffles are now all gone, too. It was worth it to keep him going. I had hard-boiled eggs.
For lunch, my son took a bean burrito (sans cheese, we're out of cheese, cry!) in his thermos, a few chips (we're running out), some cookies and an orange. He doesn't like blackberries and that's all I've got left in terms of fruit.
Today, I'll hit the store and spend my last $1.64 to see us through for today and hopefully, tomorrow.
Daniella: Choosing Filling Foods Or Fruit
Completing day one was much more challenging than it looked like on paper. I tried to create a menu for myself that had enough calories so that I could have energy to run at the gym, get my work done, and not think about food.
I found myself missing the variety of fruits and vegetables that I usually eat each day and wondering if I would have picked a different store, used coupons, or left something off of my shopping list if there would have been enough money to add more of these items to my menu. I already had eliminated soy milk from the shopping list because of the cost which is my main source of calcium. I usually eat fish a few times a week as well, but it didn’t fit into the budget either. I chose a more expensive peanut butter because the cheaper choice contained unhealthy food ingredients.
Now, I am left wondering what should be the priority- healthy items or making sure that you have enough food to last the entire five days. I am sorry, but this sucks. Someone should not have to make a choice between the two.
A coworker came around asking for a five dollar donation to a work potluck on Friday. This was not in the budget. Nor was getting a diet soda from the vending machine, a coffee from starbucks, or a pack of gum. It has given me a whole new perspective on how someone has to balance out such a small amount of money for food.
Erin: Putting 5 Days Into Perspective
Day 2 Lesson Learned: Difficulty Hits Home
As I Day 2 passed, the thought that kept running through my mind is “if this is hard for me, I can’t imagine how hard it is for others.” People with families. People who don’t have the convenience of having a car to get to the place to by food where food stamps are accepted. People who truly are hungry day in, day out. For us, this only lasts a week. If it’s inconvenient; it’s only for a week. If you’re hungry; you can eat more next week. If you’re missing certain foods; you can get them next week. But the individuals living off SNAP don’t have next week to look forward to. Each day is just another day that they have to get by. It just really put in perspective how difficult it really is to be so limited in everything you do each day and how determined these individuals must be to provide for themselves and their families with so little. I think another participating blogger said it best: “How difficult it would be to look at your child and tell them they couldn’t eat when they are hungry?” Amazingly difficult…and heartbreaking.