Stumbled across an interesting blog earlier this month, The $25 Challenge. As a result of Hunger Action Month, a bunch of people made the attempt to live on a $25 weekly grocery budget, to prove a point. The average Illinois family on food stamps collects $25 a week, so they wanted to see if it was possible to simulate, and what would be the ramifications.
Not so different is our $100 grocery budget. We wouldn't be able to manage a weekly budget, since we do the Angel Food boxes ($30), but so far we've been relatively successful in keeping to our goals.
What The $25 Challenge found was that living on that dollar amount of food per month, especially with the recent hikes in grocery prices, is very difficult. And I'd agree, unless you're willing to put a lot of work and effort into feeding your family, you'd be hard-pressed to make it.
Not to disparage many food stamp recipients, but I've worked in the grocery industry before. Long, long ago I had the best job, working in a supermarket-owned convenience store. And, what I've seen concerning food stamps was disturbing. I have never seen anyone use food stamps in a responsible manner. Buying name-brand food, convenience food, swapping a paper dollar for a 25-cent pack of gum, then having your kids do it as well, until you have anough change to buy a pack of smokes (it was a long time ago, the debit card was just coming out, and smokes were around $1.75). It got hard to watch people using my tax dollars in such a careless way.
But I digress. I'm sure people today are more effective, buying less meat, hitting the discount bread store, using AFM. And, even using all these resources, we would not have been able to make our grocery goal without a well-stocked freezer and an unlimited supply of pizza. And some good friends doing our leftover exchange (future post).
The government is talking about all these different programs to help the public. But if they really want to help the public, maybe they should address the rising costs of food. With gas prices here being $2.39/gl yesterday, why are the groceries still not dropping? When will they? If they worked on that, maybe they wouldn't feel the need to increase food stamps (and, in turn, taxes).
But my guess is that might be too much effort for them. Far easier to pass a pork-laden bill.