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Old 09-19-2014, 12:41 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by mmyap View Post
My hat is off to you, Addie. I've always been somewhat uncomfortable with trend of the SNAP experiment. Unless you live it you can't possibly understand all dynamics involved. Like being able to physically get to grocery stores that have the best quality food for the best prices. I can't imagine lugging home grocery bags on public transportation. You are fortunate in having family to help.

I appreciate your sharing your real life experience.
The point she also missed is the mother that has small children. She has to take those kids with her or pay a babysitter with her small funds that she receives from the welfare department when she goes shopping. You can bet that by the end of the month she is at the food bank to get enough groceries to feed her kids. And during the summer it is even more difficult because there is no free breakfast or lunch at home like there is in school. And she doesn't get more in her SNAP benefits because the kids are home all day, every day. Throughout Boston there are day camps in all the parks and community centers. The kids get free lunch and snacks there. Those programs are filled to the max just for the sole purpose of the free lunch and snacks. But this is not the case in other cities and towns.

Unless you are actually living it, an experiment of make believe proves nothing. That melon that she had in her fridge that was on the verge of going rotten doesn't count. She didn't purchase it with her imaginary SNAP money. She didn't go to the section of the store where there are dented cans at a reduced price. Or to the produce dept. where the food was no longer appealing to the eye and priced to sell. Did she look for manger's specials in the meat department? You get them home and into the freezer as fast as you can.

If the author really wanted to try to live on a SNAP budget, then she should have followed a real SNAP recipient around a store and bought like her. Then she would have had a real lesson in how to budget. Personally, I think her experiment was just a lot of hooey. She needed to write an article and decided to try and live poor. No wonder she failed.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
I feel bad that she wasted her money on Ziploc containers instead of recycling some jars or plastic food containers.

It's getting tougher and tougher to stick entirely to a SNAP budget.

I think it would be impossible with a family of school age children.

I am always curious about what people buy in the grocery store and how they approach living on a tight budget. I'm the nosy old fool sneaking a peak at what you have in your grocery cart!
Aunt Bea, every three or four months, I treat myself. I buy one small bottle of house brand root beer. And then I kick myself. It always gives me heart burn.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:49 AM   #13
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in a situation where a person receives food stamps, do they usually (or often) receive monetary aid for other things besides food?
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:53 AM   #14
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I totally agree with the learning curve. Things that are "normal" for her to buy really don't make sense on a food stamp budget, bone in leg quarters may have been a much more sensible choice.

I can kind of understand the whole foods purchases, if you have limited funds you may not have enough money to buy a whole package of something, but you can get some out of a bulk bin, even if it isn't the best unit price.

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What she bought in the bins can be purchased as a small package for a lot less than what she paid at Whole Foods. And what kind of store does she buy the rest of her groceries at? Is it a store like Andy, Cooking Goddess and myself shop at? A store that definitely has much lower prices than any other store near where we live. Or was it a high end store like Stop and Shop or Shaws? I don't think she gave much thought to how she was going to perform her experiment.
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:15 AM   #15
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in a situation where a person receives food stamps, do they usually (or often) receive monetary aid for other things besides food?
Some do bt. But most of the recipients are workers who are barely making just above minimum wage and have a family. The other are elderly who live alone or may still have a spouse.

The rules for the elderly are a lot different than folks who work. We can own our home (even if paid in full), a car, and any other property of value. The only thing they consider is how much is our income. From that they deduct for rent and utilities, and any medical expenses such as copays, taxes of your home, and water bills. Those expenses help increase their SNAP benefits. For me my only expense is rent. All my utilities are included in my rent. And my rent is subsidized. My rent is $237.00 a month and that's included everything.

For those who work, their deductions are different. Rent, medical copays, utilities. If they have a car, the don't give a deduction for any expense that they have for that. If they have a bank account, they have to spend it down to a certain level before they qualify for SNAP. They are allowed to have a checking account, but not a savings account. The land line if they have one is part of their utilities. Their cell phones are their own expense and not considered as a deduction. It is considered a luxury. They are encouraged to get rid of it. Most don't.

My total gross income is $821 a month. My total deductions are $663.00 That leaves my total accountable income at $158.00 a month. That qualifies me for an allotment of $141.00 a month of SNAP. So the total if you include SNAP as income and my SS check of $821.00 my total income for the month is $962.00. With careful spending of my cash and SNAP, I usually have a little left over at the end of the month. But not always.
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Old 09-19-2014, 02:05 AM   #16
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...Unless you are actually living it, an experiment of make believe proves nothing. That melon that she had in her fridge that was on the verge of going rotten doesn't count. She didn't purchase it with her imaginary SNAP money....If the author really wanted to try to live on a SNAP budget, then she should have followed a real SNAP recipient around a store and bought like her. Then she would have had a real lesson in how to budget. Personally, I think her experiment was just a lot of hooey. She needed to write an article and decided to try and live poor. No wonder she failed.
Personally, I think she should be commended. Even though she is only pretending to be on food assistance, she is working through the thinking process of someone who suddenly finds themselves without an income and in need of help. I know one of the "rules" of the SNAP Challenge is to not use food you already have, but a real-life situation would differ since you would still use up anything in your fridge. In fact, I think someone would stretch what they had in place to make sure they had more money to work with when they shopped. And who's to say she would learn more by duplicating the purchases a SNAP recipient is buying? I've been behind someone who uses a card for their purchases and don't buy half that crap that they buy!

"Beth" is not the first person to take the SNAP Challenge, nor will she be the last. It appears she has been blogging about budgeting and cost-cutting for a while. It must have come as a surprise to her that buying with a limit of SNAP benefits wasn't easy. If she brings awareness to one person about how hard it is for a family to eat well on limited funds I think she's done a good deed.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:20 AM   #17
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What she bought in the bins can be purchased as a small package for a lot less than what she paid at Whole Foods. And what kind of store does she buy the rest of her groceries at? Is it a store like Andy, Cooking Goddess and myself shop at? A store that definitely has much lower prices than any other store near where we live. Or was it a high end store like Stop and Shop or Shaws? I don't think she gave much thought to how she was going to perform her experiment.
I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with you, I'll just give you my experience as someone that works in grocery retail.

Most of the items that she got at whole foods, would be merchandised in the "natural" section of a regular grocery store and the price would be at a premium. There are certain things that I will not buy in a regular grocery store, because believe it or not, they are less expensive at whole foods. Whole Foods isn't always the most expensive, there are quite a few things that they move a lot of because they are a natural food store that a regular food store carries out of convenience to the customer, at a premium.

Yeah, the brown rice and almonds weren't probably the best choice to buy at Whole Foods, but she's in the process of learning. I'm pretty sure that anyone who finds themselves suddenly on SNAP, has a learning curve, old habits die hard. People don't become savvy and frugal overnight.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:28 AM   #18
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The last person I had in front of me at the check out lane that used food stamps had perfectly manicured nails. Very well dressed. Nice purse. Both hubby and wife had I phones. I was amazed she had food stamps. Her and her hubby were separating everything out of the cart. After she paid for the food with food stamps her old man pulled a huge wad of cash out and paid for the rest. I also personally know some people that have sold their food stamps for cash. Pennies on the dollar so they can go drinking. You know them huge bottles of water. People buy them with food stamps. They pay the deposit on the bottle and everything. Then the low life goes out and dumps the water out and immediately return the bottles to get cash from the deposit.

Way to many people abuse the system. If we can catch the abusers and kick them off then there would be more for the honest people that need help.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:53 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Addie View Post
The point she also missed is the mother that has small children. She has to take those kids with her or pay a babysitter with her small funds that she receives from the welfare department when she goes shopping. You can bet that by the end of the month she is at the food bank to get enough groceries to feed her kids. And during the summer it is even more difficult because there is no free breakfast or lunch at home like there is in school. And she doesn't get more in her SNAP benefits because the kids are home all day, every day. Throughout Boston there are day camps in all the parks and community centers. The kids get free lunch and snacks there. Those programs are filled to the max just for the sole purpose of the free lunch and snacks. But this is not the case in other cities and towns.

Unless you are actually living it, an experiment of make believe proves nothing. That melon that she had in her fridge that was on the verge of going rotten doesn't count. She didn't purchase it with her imaginary SNAP money. She didn't go to the section of the store where there are dented cans at a reduced price. Or to the produce dept. where the food was no longer appealing to the eye and priced to sell. Did she look for manger's specials in the meat department? You get them home and into the freezer as fast as you can.

If the author really wanted to try to live on a SNAP budget, then she should have followed a real SNAP recipient around a store and bought like her. Then she would have had a real lesson in how to budget. Personally, I think her experiment was just a lot of hooey. She needed to write an article and decided to try and live poor. No wonder she failed.
Did you read the entire post? She is doing the experiment for her family as it exists - herself - so her experience and budget are based on that. She's not trying to pretend to be a different kind of family.

You can nitpick her choices to death, but you're missing the point.

Quote:
I’m approaching this challenge as if I had to suddenly go on SNAP and will definitely utilize some of my pantry staples. Those staples will not be counted as free and as I replenish those pantry staples throughout the month, I will have to do so within my weekly budget of $30. A good portion of what I bought during week one will actually be spread out and used during the following weeks, so it only makes sense that I also would have had some things left over from previous weeks. And hey, this challenge isn’t perfect, but it’s still incredibly insightful. My goal isn’t to get every detail perfect, but to draw attention to and start the conversation about food insecurity, as well as recalibrate my own spending and food consumption habits to be less wasteful.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:01 AM   #20
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The last person I had in front of me at the check out lane that used food stamps had perfectly manicured nails. Very well dressed. Nice purse. Both hubby and wife had I phones. I was amazed she had food stamps. Her and her hubby were separating everything out of the cart. After she paid for the food with food stamps her old man pulled a huge wad of cash out and paid for the rest. I also personally know some people that have sold their food stamps for cash. Pennies on the dollar so they can go drinking. You know them huge bottles of water. People buy them with food stamps. They pay the deposit on the bottle and everything. Then the low life goes out and dumps the water out and immediately return the bottles to get cash from the deposit.

Way to many people abuse the system. If we can catch the abusers and kick them off then there would be more for the honest people that need help.
I'm not defending what you say you've seen, but you saw only a snapshot of someone's life. You have no idea what the rest of their journey through life entails.
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