Food benefits don’t provide much to eat
To the editor:
I took the SNAP Challenge. I agreed to limit my food consumption to $4.50 per day for one week. Per day, not per meal. $4.50 per day is the average amount a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) participant is allotted.
Taking the challenge seriously, I scoured newspaper ads and made a tentative list based on sale items. Cold cereal, milk, eggs, soup, canned tuna, ham steak or chicken, raw vegetable medley, margarine, potatoes or rice, grapes, apples, bananas, or pears, bread, cold cuts, fresh vegetables. I headed off to the grocery and browsed prices. I found that the actual deals involved purchasing multiple quantities of the same item. Before heading for the checkout, I quickly added up my costs. I then returned various items to the shelf which I could not afford. I ended up with a box of bran flakes, a half-gallon of milk, one dozen eggs, four cans of soup, four cans of tuna, a ham steak on sale for $2.96, two vegetable medleys, margarine, grapes, 3 bananas, bread, and a package of rice pilaf on sale for 79 cents. When available, I bought store brand items. No coffee, no juice. Tap water was to be my beverage for the week. Total price was $30.43.
Meals quickly became repetitive. Cold cereal or a fried egg for breakfast, egg sandwich or soup for lunch; ham, rice, and steamed (rather limp) veggies for dinner, with an option for tuna on toast instead of ham and rice. Bananas and grapes were my treat for the week. I quickly learned grocery stores could not accept my food stamp EBT card for a sandwich from the deli. Derryfest occurred in the middle of my challenge week. To my chagrin, I could not buy food at the vendor booths. Instead I packed a cold egg sandwich and a handful of grapes. Going out to eat with friends was out of the question.