Living on food stamps

A well-meaning but seriously well-worn path – wealthy people living on food stamps for a month – gets trod again.


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

14 thoughts

  1. Sammy Guillory Said,”the funds are supposed to be a supplement for the money one spends on food each month -it isn’t intended to be the sole source of funding.” What a lot of croc!! The government needs to get real. Most families on Food assistance don’t have any other source for food. It inadequate. After Paying for basic needs, such as rent, Electric and heating, there is nothing left. More often then that there is not enough for that. There is certainly not enough for need such as clothing and transportation. Families depending on it end up eating a lot of cheap processed foods instead of real wholesome foods. That is in turn contributing to the health crisis. Cheap unhealthy, processed food leads to diseases and high cost of care which tax payers end up footing the bill.

  2. I have 120.00 a month left over out of my monthly money to live on which includes, fixing my ancient car ( tires, taxes, oil, power steering fliud, , brake fluid- they all leak), pay for my meds, buy clothes, laundery and dish detergent, soap, shampoo, and buy my FOOD. Fresh veggies and fruit are you kidding? I am lucky if I get a can of fruit a month. What I can buy is: cheap hot dogs, pork and beans, bread, peanut butter, cheap canned veggies which is a half of can of water, cheap cereal, instant oatmeal, spaghetti sauce, I make alot of elbow macaroni dishes with meat in it about the size of a hamburger patty, add a small can of peas and a small can of crushed tomatoes and you get to eat it all week long every meal! I rarely have a meal that has a serving of meat and side dishes, I have to put the meat into a rice or noodles to stretch it. I skip meals too, but I am not thin but slightly heavy because of the diet I have to eat. I see people on the news cutting out their Starbucks coffee and wonder what a kind of life that would be to just give up my Starbucks coffee and cutting out one day of going to restaurants.

  3. I am a single parent of two. I was laid off on 12/2/2008. I receive $240 a week unemployment. When I went to the DHS to sign up for assistance- (Food Stamps) I was told that they could only give me enough for me and my daughter that is $190 monthly. My son is 21 and attending college he do not qualify because he do not have a job- work study. I went to the Food Bank and they are out of food so I start my day off riding the bus to churches asking for help and most of the time I am turned down because so many others need help as well. I asked who implemented those laws? My son attends the university of Memphis and they are cutting teachers and professors so how do they expect him to work. The only car I had was repossed and I have a court notice to be evicted if I don’t pay the rest of my rent by the middle of this month.

    My son catches a ride to school everyday with a friend and then he have to walk home or catch a ride. It is impossible for him to get a job now because no one is hiring. he would need someone to hire him after classes and no one have been willing to do so. This is my first time needing assistance and I can’t get it when those people in Texas were living off Food stamps and Families First for years and they were having babies by the same man or men and they did nothing to them.

    Also I was informed that I will be contacted on when I will have to go to a job readiness class if I wanted to continue to receive Food stamps. The food that we have to buy is not healthy for us and no one cares.

  4. Important comments, guys; thanks for sharing them. I have no idea how $190 a month would get us fed…it certainly wouldn’t get us many fruits and vegetables, as you all have noted.

    How ’bout some money-saving tips? Dried beans? Costco membership?

  5. I think Food Stamp should be treated similiar to the WIC program where people who qualify can get fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, etc. Not birthday cakes from the deli, crawfish and such. With WIC, you can get a certain of milk, beans, cheese, cereal, etc each month. I believe this would help overall because at this point it is contributing to health crisis. Elected officials are the ones who need to be held accountable for the way our system is operating currently. We can not hold our local food stamp office accountable for the policy that they have to enforce daily.

  6. Ok…I am by no means being insensitive to people needing assistance, but COME ON! This program is meant to be ASSISTANCE not a free ride! Why should people that use this program eat better than the tax payers that actually pay for it??!! I am disgusted by this report. I got layed off from my job due to cut backs in December of 2008 and was unemployed for 32 days. When I finally did find another job it was for half the hourly pay. I strugle to make ends meet every month and do it without food stamps or any other government assistance. I am not tooting my horn or wanting a medal for this, I am just stating that I get by. Yes people have other bills to pay from their checks and rely on the food stamps to feed their families, I understand this. However, if almost $200 a month of free money for food for them is not enough ASSISTANCE, then what would be? There are TOO MANY people out there that completely ABUSE this system. I feel like this is a joke. This really sparked a nerve in me today. Don’t kick a gift horse in the mouth, isn’t that the old saying??!!

  7. Tell Mr. Callebs that one of the tricks of living on Food Stamps or what ever they are calling it these days is accepting invitations for dinner/brunch/lunch whenever they may be offered. I no longer have to do this – but when my husband was dying – we lived on a lot less than $176 per month and I had 3 kids. If it had not been for my parents and my in-laws helping us – we would have never made it. I promise you – the holes in these so-called safety nets are way too big and allow people that truly need the help to fall through far too easily.

  8. I live in the New Orleans area. No one can feed themsleve on food stamps. What about food banks? I belong to several organizations (church & social) and we have food drives monthly for the local food bank. The sad thing is that we can’t find people to volunteer to work in the food bank. That includes the people that are driving up to the food bank to get free food. I wonder how many people who collect this free food are also on food stamps?

  9. $6.28 is actually more than I have been able to spend. I work full time and there have been many weeks, that I have to make $20.00 worth of food last 7 days.
    There are nights I have gone to bed and ate only dry bread.
    Food stamps would be great. I don’t qualify. Insurance would also be great, I don’t have any and I don’t qualify for assistance. I am one who falls inbetween somewhere in the cracks.

  10. I am disabled with a very limited income, and I do live on less than $200 per month for groceries. That includes non-food items. I eat a healthy diet, and I have all the non-food items that I need.

    My grocery bill for February was $163.52, and included items like Cottonelle bath tissue, cheap Purex laundry detergent, Dawn dish detergent, Colgate Total toothpaste, store brand furniture polish and other nonfood items. I use coupons for name brands that I prefer.

    Fresh produce included: seven sweet potatoes; turnip greens; two green peppers; celery; carrots; sack of regular potatoes; scallions; broccoli slaw; two cucumbers; sack of yellow onions; sack of Gala apples; sack of tangerines.

    When I was working and feeding five children, I learned to cook inexpensive, healthy meals. Junk food and more expensive convenience food was not on the menu, and my children and I were not finicky about what we ate, either.

    Today my main meal is pinto beans (cooked from dried beans and without pork), baked sweet potato with Smart Balance spread), fresh turnip greens with store brand extra virgin olive oil, milk, and corn bread. I have fresh or canned fruit for snacks or dessert.

    I do not and will not skip meals.

    There is no reason to not buy fresh fruits and vegetables, but they should be selected carefully for cost and storage. For instance, you can buy root veggies like potatoes, onions, and carrots to use all during the month; just keep them in a cool, dry place. Remember that apples and oranges last longer than bananas, Bartlett pears, and peaches. Frozen strawberries and blueberries will last indefinitely. Ditto with canned peaches, pears, applesauce and pineapple.

    Here are some other tips:

    1.Use store brands. Use store brands. Use HEALTHY store brands!!!
    2.Find out which days are best for store specials, especially meats. Freeze or use right away.
    3.Use coupons for brand names that you prefer.
    4.Use powdered milk and canned milk in your cooking, or make up powdered milk for drinking, instant store brand puddings, a cocoa mix and cereal.
    5.Wrap fresh celery (not more expensive celery hearts) in a paper towel, then aluminum foil to remain fresh longer
    6.Or buy pkgs of frozen celery and onions or green peppers and onions to flavor soups, casseroles, or meat loaf
    7.Purchase dried beans, pasta, and rice, store brand
    8.Eat more vegetarian meals. Dried beans, eggs, cheese, and peanut butter are other good sources of protein.
    9.Use a minimum amount of hamburger in chili beans and spaghetti sauce (canned, store brand). Chuckeye steaks are just as tender and cheaper than rib eyes. Round steak is good for your Swiss Steak recipe.
    10.Purchase chicken thighs and drumsticks instead of whole chickens or breasts for chicken ‘n dumplings, chicken casserole, or chicken soup. Purchase in bulk and divide for several meals. Fried or baked chicken livers are delicious with rice and canned green beans.
    11.Freeze and save leftover chicken or beef stock for soups and casseroles.
    12.Cook soups and casseroles to make food go further—chili beans, cream of potato soup, corned beef hash, chicken casserole, Hamburger Helper type meals, 15-bean soup, vegetarian vegetable soup, salmon patties, chicken or tuna salad, chipped cream beef w/toast
    13.Purchase canned meats whenever possible—corned beef, dried beef, canned chicken, canned tuna, canned salmon
    14.Bake your own bread. Buy self-rising flour and corn meal to make biscuits and corn bread. Use leftover breads to make that chicken casserole.
    15.Or purchase bread products at bakery outlets.
    16.Grow your own fresh spinach or lettuce, chives or scallions, and herbs, in window boxes and tomatoes and peppers in planter pots.

    One does not have to be on Food Stamps to learn to keep a food budget. There is no reason to not eat healthy meals and snacks on a limited income. A single adult can easily live on $176.00 worth of food per month.

  11. Good ideas from a number of folks. And thanks for describing your individual situations. I am grateful that our family doesn’t have to watch our grocery bill as much as some, but we are working on getting better about it.

    Last night it was week-old white beans, leftover greens, a little homemade bacon and water…not a bad soup, really. Served it with thick slices of three-day old bread I made over the weekend. As noted by Dorothy, soups are unmatched in their ability to use disparate ingredients and leftovers to fill empty tummies.

    Again, thanks for sharing the differing points of view.

  12. A more restrictive diet would be living on WIC. Poverty guidelines are seriously outdated and we could seriously stimulate the economy by making it easier for americans to have the basics like food and shelter.

  13. I agree poverty guidelines are way outdated, and what has done us all in, is the gas prices rising so high, forcing everything else up but our wages.
    I consider myself lucky, I have a grown daughter, son in law, and grandson sharing expenses now. And my friends and I barter. One week they have fed me through trying times, the next I fed them. Now with my situation improving, I try to do more for them. Paying it forward.

  14. Fruit and veggies can be inexpensive- you just have to know where to shop -and- not be picky. You can GOOD and inexpensive fruit and veg at Aldi (to all the anti-Aldi snobs- Aldi is owned by the same German company who own Trader Joe’s). A bag of red delicious apples (about 8 small) was under $2.00. A head of cabbage is under $2.00 as well. 3 green peppers is about $1.50. It’s not locally grown and organic, but if people are truly starving, I wouldn’t think those details would matter.

    Also, try shopping at the local Asian markets. Cheap, cheap, cheap noodles and rice!

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