The Food Stamp Challenge: Seeing How The Other Half Lives
You all know that I've been talking about this for quite some time and I have decided to do it. The idea is, you take what the government will give you for food assistance and try to live within that limit for a week. The first thing I did was look up the maximum amount that a single person household is allowed per month, and that is $194 according to the USDA. Dividing that by 4.3 and assuming no income at all, that comes out to $45.12 per week.
So if Gwyneth Paltrow was trying to make do on $29 a week she was shorting herself or didn't read the fine print. I'm going to be keeping track of this here. I figure the closer I can come to $29 per week, the more real it is going to be.
I really don't have any idea where this $29 figure came from because the State of New York directs you right to the $194 figure, so maybe Gwyneth Paltrow sent one of her flunkies out to shop and when asked, the figure of $29 was plucked out of the air as it were. I'm going by the numbers.
One aspect of this is access to a proper fairly priced source of supplies. I'm aware that some folks live in what is yclept a "food desert"-that is, an area where there are no decent, competitively priced food markets-only convenience stores and burger outlets- and thus, for folks who don't have transportation they are unable to access more efficient and better providers of grub.
The good news is on $45.12 a week I can afford some coffee and sugar. Since I will have to share that with the Dragon Lady, I'll simply deduct the cost of it from my allowance. A heaping tablespoon of beans weighs in at 0.3 ounces which means that half a pound of Verena street locally roasted beans are going to cost me $4.50 and I'll have plenty left over.
Another objective of this project is to do more than meet the basic need as the prison dietitians do. It is to craft dishes that are ample, attractive and tasty. I did some research on the cost of food in our prisons a few years back and they feed an inmate for between $0.65 and $1.20 per plate. Call that $4 per day. Nobody's living large behind the walls, people.
My mom did not have access to a car during the day, so she walked to one of two markets that were nearby, Dessel's and the Garden State Market-with her trusty shopping cart in tow. These things are available for about $25 new, shipped to your door but some folks are shutins or disabled to the extent that they can no longer walk the 2 or 3 miles it might take.
Parenthetically this has the makings of a grant application for community service groups to invest in a slightly elderly airport van so as to provide transportation for those who need it.
For those who are mobile, and unafraid of the folks they may meet on the street Shank's mare is good transport. If I live through this coming week I may try that as well.
The first thing I've got to do is do some meal planning and making sure I have the right equipment, i.e. tupperware. Stay tuned.