Monday, October 21, 2013

Challenge Learnings

Today is Monday, I completed my food stamp challenge yesterday.  I was able to make my food last and had some left over.  I lost 9 pounds which is good but probably not healthy to lose that much in a week.  My sugar levels remained the same.

My Observations:

·         My week on food stamps is nothing like living on them week after week.   I saw light at the end of the tunnel, and just wanted to be done. I can not imagine doing this long-term. 

·         I am a fairly good cook and I know how to mix foods to make food work

·         I have electricity, a refrigerator, stove and microwave, some people don't.

·         I have a car.

·         I have little stress at home, just me and my wife.  No children to feed, no stress with homework, diapers to change, arguing with teens,  etc.   Having a quiet home gave me time to think with no children hanging on me while trying to cook or plan.

·         I have a flexible job, where I am able usually able to leave to go home and cook lunch. 

·         I do not have to hear children complain of hunger, when they get home from school or at meal times or have to give up my food to provide for children

·         Don’t use a great deal of milk as with families with children.

·         Would have been easier for me to have a whole month of food stamp money at once.  Could have purchased larger size items to be used on other weeks.

·         I observed that everyone thinks where they shop is cheaper,  I wonder where the cheapest store really is and if there really is one.

·         I had a lot of people tell me that they could do this better than me.  My response was , “Go for it”.

·         I know that there is some abuse of the food stamp program, but it is not nearly the majority.  People like to tell the worst case scenario implying everyone does it.   They often make the case that we should do away with food stamps because of abuse.   My question is should we stop sports because some players take steroids?   Should we close banks because some bankers embezzle?  Do we cancel school because some teachers take advantage of students?  Do dishonest politicians mean we end government? Well, maybe, “yes” on the last one .  We can’t judge people based on a few people.

·         There is a great deal of judging what people buy.  It is true healthier choices would be better.  However, we don’t know if a mother is buying a snack for good grades or a birthday party.  Meals in a can or TV dinners may be the answer to quick meals to save time for other family activities.

·         If large corporations that are making billions of dollars in profit would pay a living wage, less people would need government aid.

·         Most of the people KUO serve are working.  There is the belief that those needing food are not working. 

·         Did you know that in September of 2013 there were only 193 families receiving welfare(cash from the government) in Howard County with the average family receiving being $188.60 for the month?  There are 6, 592 receiving food stamps with the average amount for a family being $285.39.     There are some who get a lot more and some a lot less based on income and family size.

·         Remember, “Welfare to Work” that passed congress and was signed by President Clinton on July 1, 1997? (  With this law welfare recipients have a lifetime benefit of 5 years and then off welfare forever.   Meaning that in Howard County over 6,399 food stamp families have some kind of income(jobs, social security, etc.), while, perhaps, the rest on welfare.

·         With food pantries, Buddy Bags, and meals provided by the Rescue Mission, KUO and area churches.  Hunger would even be greater.

What I learned:
·         Fear of running out of food kept me from eating a lot of food each meal.  I have a better understanding of what it means to be food insecure.  Fear makes you do a lot of things like buy a bag of chips with your last three dollars.

·         In order to make it for the week, my food had to be measured (i.e. 3.5 serving of green beans per small can, Lima beans the same).  Protein was a challenge 2 ounces of tuna or chicken per serving.  This is not all you can eat.

·         I tried to limit carbs as I am a diabetic.  I did have rice a couple of times and pasta a couple of times, they were cheap and filling.  I see why families fill up on mac and cheese etc, more filling for less money.

·         Really wanted fresh fruits and vegetables, was only able to buy iceberg lettuce for 99 cents.  Could not afford anything else. It is difficult to eat healthy with food stamps.

·         All food had to be cooked at home, meaning that time had to be expended to cook.  Did not always have time to come home and cook lunch, resorted to a peanut butter sandwich on the run.

·         A great deal of planning, menus, shopping etc. a person needs to be very organized to be on food stamps, for some that is a struggle.  

·         Contingency plans must be put in place in case food is depleted.   I thought about going to the food pantry or the Rescue Mission to eat.   Did not have to, but thought about it.

Without help from the community; children, senior citizens, veterans and low income families would suffer even more.   Thank you for all you do!!!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to document and share. It was enlightening.

  2. Thank you for showing people what it is like for food stamp reciepents. Being a family who does receive them it is very difficult. My 6 person family recieves $235 a month, an even with having to put bills on hold to use my husbands paycheck and coupons we still can't provide3 meals an 2 snacks a day. A lot of the time my husband an I go without meals so our children can eat 3 meals a day. Allot of Americans just don't understand what its like to be worried if you eat that 1 Pb sandwich will your children go without at the end of the month? You wouldn't believe the looks an comments I have gotten when on the rare occasion our kids get treated to 1 $5 pizza if by chance Daddy had overtime that month. A large majority of us live literally paycheck to paycheck, we have to chose between the light bill paid on time or food for the week. We don't get to eat out like other families.
    Again thank you for showing some light on what its really like for us low income families.