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Food Stamp Challenge

48 comments


Welcome to the July Food Stamp Challenge, where Non-Consumer Advocate readers attempt to feed their families on the amount they would receive if they were food stamp recipients. Some of us already meet this description, while others do not have to budget for our family’s food needs. I am suggesting that participants donate any money saved to their local food bank.

As the July 1st Food Stamp Challenge start date draws near, it’s time to pin down the specifics.

How much can I spend?

The SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) website states that “The average monthly benefit was about $101 per person” which is what I’m going to work with. This number appears to be based on 2008 numbers, but is the most recent info on the website. This number simplifies the challenge, although your state, (Alaska and Hawaii) may have a higher allotment.

The “Maximum Monthly Allottment” is much higher, and is actually significantly more than my family spends per month, including eating out! Here is a chart from the SNAP website:

People in Household Maximum Monthly Allotment
1 $    200
2 $    367
3 $    526
4 $    668
5 $    793
6 $    952
7 $ 1,052
8 $ 1,202
Each additional person… $150

What is included within that amount?

Foods for the households to eat, (bread, cheese, meat, cereals,etc.) Seeds or plants who produce food for the household to eat.

What is NOT included in the amount?

Paper products, alcohol, pet food, vitamins and medicine, soaps, household supplies, hot food, food to be eaten in the store.

Can you glean produce from public areas or do some urban foraging as part of sticking to the food bank budget?

Absolutely. I encourage participants to get creative about food rescue and alternate means of food “shopping.”

Do I have to donate to my local food bank in order to participate?

No. Although I am going to donate any money saved beyond my normal monthly food budget, you can choose to participate in any way that feels right to you. (Note — I spent $350 for the month of June last year and donated $100 to The Oregon Food Bank.)

What if I Qualify for WIC? (Women, Infants and Children)

The Oregon WIC website states that “WIC vouchers provide an average of $44 in nutritious foods to each participant monthly.” Those served by WIC are pregnant women, breastfeeding women whose babies are 12 months or less, non-breastfeeding women whose babies are six months or younger, and infants and children under five years old.

You can add this amount to your monthly food stamp challenge if you meet these criteria.

Confused yet?

$101 per person for the month is the amount that I set. Although it is only the “average amount” a food stamp recipient receives, it feels right to me.

For my family, this adds up to $404 for the month of July.

I am going to withdraw this amount from my checking account and only buy food from this stash o’ cash. I will give some to my husband to simplify things for him. (The poor guy is awfully worried that he’ll be uncomfortably deprived!)

The SNAP website has a helpful frequently asked questions page if you’re craving more information.

Please e-mail me at nonconsumer@comcast.net with any additional questions concerning the July Food Stamp Challenge.

Now, let’s plan some delicious, healthy and inexpensive meals for July!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

 

{ 2 trackbacks }

Time For Another Food Stamp Challenge?
September 13, 2012 at 9:02 am
Could you eat for $4 a day? | Klingtocash
February 28, 2014 at 7:45 am

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dianne Andrews August 9, 2011 at 7:14 am

Great idea! We’ve been spending waaay too much on food and I chose $600/month for our family to get down to. We have 6 people so it seems doable to me!

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2 Tamika August 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Wow….that would make 707 a month for my family. I feed them for an average of 400 a month living frugally….

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3 Aimee July 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

How do you spend that little? We have a family of seven, too, and I would love to know how you do it.

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4 albert davis February 10, 2014 at 8:15 am

I am a single disabled dad of a 12 years old girl and I am 57. I get less than 1020 dollars a month and I only qualified for 16 dollars a month. My mortgage and light bill and essentials equal 2000 a month’s so I am now 40000 more thousand in debt for borrowing on my paid in equity because my x refuses to pay her court ordered child support f 478.00 for 4 years now. The state of NC sucks as they won’t even do anything or give me a just legal remedy. Just 7 continuances going thru two Years now now .I live in the country so its an 84mile trip to town-i can’t even afford 20 dollars in gas to buy 70 dollars of food .no pizza del every here.no trip to town to eat a MacDonald 1
Dollar burger . So I starve so my daughter can eat noodles and an occasionally rare piece of fruit or hamburger meat.

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5 Jean September 3, 2011 at 4:54 am

I just found this. I may try this out and see how it works for my DH and me. Seeing the ideas of how people utilized their saved money, I will think about ways I want to share the savings.

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6 Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares September 4, 2011 at 10:31 am

I love foraging for food. If you admit to people you do it, they’ll start telling you where all the good fruit trees and berry patches are, making it ever easier to engage in this activity.

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7 Megyn @Minimalist Mommi September 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm

LOVE IT! We have a food budget of $100/week for our family of 4, but also receive WIC right now too. We make it work, and that’s WITH buying 90% organic AND local (even meat!).

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8 DeAnna December 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

Wow I spend about 600.00 a month for our family of 7 and that includes dog food, toiletries and paper products and we eat very well and very balanced…and it is nice to know that I could increase what I spend and still be considered frugal. We have special dietary needs : gluten free, dairy free (for one child) carb free for me. Wow is all I can say.

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9 Katie January 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm

My family was on food stamps last year. We are a family of four and we received $438 a month. I actually thought that was a lot to receive for a family of four. We have been off food stamps for a few months now and I only spend about $70.00 a week and we get by just fine with that.

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10 Jane ulness February 28, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I spend half the USDA stats for our family for the low income . We are retired on a low fixed income and have my daughter and her daughter living with us. With that , I have added to my stock. I started a blog to help people make it on less.

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11 Anne January 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I was laid off in June, and am still unemployed and NOT collecting unemployment (no transportation to look for work), so we are living on my husbands pay. We spend $200 a month for groceries, cat food, paper products and all. I’ve lost weight, hooray!

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12 Carla January 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

Holy moly! We’re a family of 6 and never even come CLOSE to spending $952 & I buy local organic/free range meat, eggs, etc, & GF foods too!

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13 HomefrontSix February 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

We are a family of 4 (though my 8yo eats as much as his father) and easily make do on about $400/month for food. That includes all paper products, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. We don’t even come near the SNAP Maximums! We rarely eat out, use coupons when we can, and do our best to avoid buying processed foods. My goal is to get us down closer to $250/month once I get our stockpile built back up (military just moved us).

Love the site!

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14 Tee March 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I have to say, that chart has to be off. Back in 2007 when we were on leaner times, I got food stamps for my family. We are a family of 5 and received $250/month. I just don’t want to the perpetuate the notion that people who get food stamps are just living high off the hog. Not true. Maybe if my husband had made much less, that chart might have been more true for us, but we definitely weren’t making ends meet on food stamps. We were also promptly off it as soon as he got a $20/mo raise on his paycheck.

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15 Katy March 28, 2012 at 7:04 am

This chart shows the very highest that people receive, which is when they have zero income. Many people have shared that they receive far, far less.

Katy

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16 kim April 2, 2012 at 8:52 am

here in Vt every time you swipe your EBT at a Farmer’s Mkt you will receive back 40% in coupons to use at that market. This in addition to your monthly allotment. Therefore you should buy all of your fresh produce and meat at the Farmer’s market. (There about 4 in the state that do not participate. ) So that being said they eat better than me because I don’t buy $15 per pound grass fed beef. Or $5 per loaf of bread.

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17 Lasair April 6, 2012 at 10:06 am

It is just me and my husband and am kind of shocked to see that we could be spending 202 a month on food. For a year now I have been budgeting only 100 dollars a month on food and we live just fine. Sure we don’t buy the fancy fish and cheese and we raise our own meat (which is probably where most of the savings come from) but even without that we would be fine. We eat lots of rice and beans and we buy flour and cheese in bulk. I also bake a lot, we bake our own bread and tortillas. It is possible.

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18 Alison Moore Smith May 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Wow. We have six kids and, so, have been feeding eight people for years now. We spend about $220 per week INCLUDING all the household stuff you mentioned.

This summer we’ll be putting in a garden (we just built a new home), but haven’t had one for years as we’ve been building. That will bring some expenses lower.

It doesn’t include eating out. My husband and I go out once per week on dates, sometimes an extra lunch date — and we almost always use 2 for 1 coupons (at nice-ish places, not fast food). We rarely take the whole family out, but once in a while we do (yesterday we went to the museum and a matinee performance of a play, so I took four of my kids out to the college cafeteria.

I’m honestly kind of baffled at how people can need so much.

We don’t get any kind of government assistance. We do well financially and don’t need to scrimp, but I was raised by depression-era babies and I suppose they taught me to be frugal. In addition, we spend the first four years of our married live in college, so we go really good at being poor.

For the record, we eat very healthy food. Lot’s of veggies and fruits, beans/legumes, almost always eat meat sparingly, such as in a casserole, whole wheat everything (although I almost never bake bread). But very few convenience foods. (Mostly just frozen burritos for my boys who are ALWAYS hungry and eat about three times BETWEEN meals. :)

Anyway, just wow. Maybe the welfare office should spend more time educating people on how to eat frugally.

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19 ginger October 24, 2012 at 5:23 am

alison amen to that i work in a grocery store and it is unbelievable what is purchased when it doesnt come out of hard work. 7 dollar mustard and 29 dollars for 3 steaks, lobster tails. Yes there should be some type of education for making better shopping decisions.

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20 JaneUlness April 9, 2013 at 11:26 am

I do and write a blog. I thought so too. Heard that people were running out of money before they ran out of month.

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21 Kate in NY May 13, 2012 at 3:27 am

In suburban NYC, where I live, that $952 comes pretty close to what I generally spend on food for my family of 6 – and I am quite frugal. Many of my friends budget around $300 a week for the entire grocery store trip – including household and pet items (this would be for families of 5-7 people, generally). And this is with using coupons, shopping 2-3 different stores each week to take advantage of specials, etc. It’s just crazy expensive!

BTW – I have been reading a really fun blog lately (2nd in my heart only to Katy’s, of course) – called onehundreddollarsamonth.com, where the blogger feeds her family of 4 for – you guessed it – $100 a month! She grows a ton of her own food, barters, gleans and does extreme couponing for the rest of it – then publishes the delicious-looking and healthy recipes she makes. It’s been very inspiring to me – although, when I went to the store yesterday and tried to employ some those methods, I still left having paid $200! Oy.

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22 Poor to Rich a Day at a Time May 27, 2012 at 4:54 am

To me the dollar a day challenge is far more challenging, I have a family of 5 , 6 if you count the fact I cook a homestyle diet for our dog and she does not get dog food. I spend an average of around $300 to $350 a month which includes personal and paper products! I spent $500 in May on a Couponing experiment which is VERY high for me! Also my average should come down this year as we are growing a lot of our own this summer! The average until now has been without us growing any of our own…………

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23 namastemama July 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

What is the dollar a day challenge?

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24 Lili@creativesavv June 2, 2012 at 7:14 am

If the SNAP allotments sound ridiculously high to you, it helps to put yourself into the minds of those living in other regions of the country.

I think how much a family spends on groceries varies depending on the resources available. Inner city areas tend to have much higher prices, and fewer healthy options. And many inner city residents do not have transportation to get them to the less expensive shopping venues. SNAP takes this into account when determining their allotments.

If you live in a suburban area you have warehouse style stores, Wal-Marts, several grocery stores to choose from, farmer’s markets/produce stands, dollar stores/salvage stores — quite a lot to help bring your grocery costs down.

If you live in a very rural area, you typically have just a couple of stores to choose from and they may be quite a drive away. However, you also might have land yourself for a large garden, as well as access to local farms.

For my family, the allotments would be very high. I spend $220 a month for 5 of us. But then, I’m in the burbs and have plentiful shopping resources available. I like the idea of donating the balance to a local food bank. There are so many people out there who just need someone to care enough to give them a hand. It’s not always just about filling tummies, but also about being our brother’s keeper.

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25 sandy November 17, 2012 at 5:57 am

Lili, I appreciate your comment on brothers keeper. I agree a good use of surplus is helping others. That is what frugality is about-doing more with less, not just having more for less.

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26 Laura July 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

You who have posted here are inspiring. I am paying $300 a month for the two of us, and we do NOT eat organically – although we basically eat chicken, ground beef and two slices of center cut ham a month (my weakness) I use every scrap in leftovers, I don’t use paper towels, make my own laundry detergent and softener, household cleaners etc. Our dogs eat table scraps and high-quality (but not overly pricey) dry food. We don’t buy sodas, rarely buy ice cream or cookies (I bake) so I am feeling I am missing the boat here somewhere.! We live in northern California… Some suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!

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27 Lili@creativesavv July 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

Hi Laura,
my post is just directly above yours. I’ll briefly tell you how our family of 5 eats on $210-220 per month. We eat a lot of beans and grains, and buy those items in 25-50 lb. sacks from a wholesale institutional/restaurant supply (United Cash and Carry, here, Smart and Final in other places). I also buy things like tomato paste, salad and cooking oil, margarine, bottled lemon juice, vinegar, in large commercial size packages at this same restaurant supply.I bake all our breads and rolls.

I keep a vegetable garden and have planted several fruit trees. The produce that I do buy either comes from the Cash and Carry or a local produce stand.

I buy dairy and meat either on sale or from clearance markdown sections.In November, I buy several turkeys, to keep frozen and roast throughout the year for additional meat.

I make sunflower seed butter for my kids sandwiches, instead of buying peanut butter. I make granola instead of buying cereal.

But. . .and it’s a big but, I’m a stay at home. I work part time from home, so I can do all these things. Maybe you don’t have all the time to do these things that I do. So, don’t be so hard on yourself. Many spend way more than you do on groceries. Perhaps there are a couple of things your could add to your routine to lower your grocery bill some. Just keep reading blogs like these to glean ideas, and start trying some new things out. Best wishes in all this.

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28 Laura July 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

Thanks Lili! The crux of it, as I see it, is that I do not buy in bulk. We live in a very small (less than 500 square foot) house, with only one closet (for clothes, pantry or whatever) and no freezer, nor room for one. We do have a garden, but must eat seasonally, since I can only freeze a small amount. We have some fruit trees as well, but ditto – I used to can food, but again, storage rises up and bites me in the butt! I do bake, bread, cookies etc. I appreciate your encouragement, and I will keep on looking around for solutions and ideas….

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29 Lili@creativesavv July 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hi Laura,
you might be interested in a book with a title something like “Year round gardening”. I don’t know if you’re inland or coastal in No. Calif. I’m in the Seattle area. But even if you’re inland where it’s quite cold in winter, there are things you can grow in your garden for harvest late in to fall.

My vegetable garden is small, so I don’t freeze all that much in the way of vegetables from it (I do freeze fruit, though). So, I grow things that will be harvestable well into fall (like kale and swiss chard), and that come back early in spring (again kale and swiss chard). I do 2 plantings of these, one for this summer, then one late for fall and next spring.

Also we use raised beds, so the soil warms in the spring earlier and we can harvest earlier. Plus I use a row cover to plant under for one row, so that we’re eating fresh greens about a month early.

Just some ideas for prolonging the period that you can eat fresh out of the garden and not have to store it.

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30 Poor to Rich a Day at a Time July 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

oops I meant to do my post as a direct reply to you Laura but I just posted it under the main thread if you want to check it out, we have similar challenges!

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31 Poor to Rich a Day at a Time July 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

Laura , I live in 750 square feet , a family of 6 in michigan and spend 200-300 a month on food , hoping to bring it down even further with my garden this summer. Space is an issue and I only have my fridge/freezer.

But I do buy flour, sugar, molasses and honey in bulk ( 25 lb bag of flour, gallon of molasses etc.) although 1 each at a time. I also buy a 25 pound bag of whole wheat (actual whole wheat, not flour and crack it with a good blender 1 cup at a time and put in pan cover with water, bring to boil take off heat let sit. When cool put in fridge and in morning add enough water for hot cereal consistancy, bring back to gentle boil for 5 to 10 minutes for delicous hot cereal…add fruit, jam or cinnamon and honey!)

I buy 5 # bag of boneless skinless chicken breast sometimes 2 bags. If not then a couple packs of hot dogs or roll of hamburger…….I use 1 or 2 chicken breasts at a time for stir frys, casseroles, quiches etc.

I make my own pasta, tortilla shells, refried beans, baked goods, pizzas, it is all from scratch. We drink Water.

Right now my garden is the star where I come up with the main course based off of what is coming in garden…..like layered greens which basically is a lasagna using collard and turnip greens in place of the noodles.

I do freeze surplus and can and get creative for storage. I have one decent cupboard for the large bags of flour and sugar and wheat. My fridge freezer is large so I do get a decent amount of frozen greens and veggies from garden in it. As summer progresses and I get more into canning, the surplus will go in plastic tubes that store easily under the unused area under me and hubby’s bed.

Under a coffee table could find a storage bin that could fit under it for food storage! Or make shift shelving ( I use boards layed across 5 gallon buckets with a nice material over the buckets.

Any unused area can become usable with some careful thought put to it. Sometimes it is removing things we do not even have use for to make room for what we really want to store! Good luck!

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32 Laura July 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Great ideas- thank you so much. We don’t even have room for a coffee table, but we have gotten creative with shelving! :)

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33 JaneUlness April 9, 2013 at 11:41 am

I used a rattan ottoman when I was in a small. Apartment. It worked well and kept my three yea old busy looking for the green beans ! LOL

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34 Kelsey August 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm

That’s really much higher than I had thought it would be! I feed my boyfriend and I a 100% organic diet on only around $250 a month.

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35 pam August 23, 2012 at 5:45 am

I live in southern Illinois with my husband & our 5 children. My husband works 2 jobs, I work 10 hours a week at church & yes we receive food stamps, but no where near the list. We get $303 a month. I am frugal, use coupons & we still have trouble making it. It will last me about 2 weeks. I would love to have help to make this extend even longer.

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36 Little red ridding hood August 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Pam, I too live in Illinois and recieved SNAP for a year, our allotment for a family of 4 was only $163.00 a month. I got super creative with coupons and shopping the sales flyers. I weekly put together a list of what is on sale and what we can make around the sale items. I mostly buy meat and dairy from the grocery store. I have found that if I make things from scratch I save a great deal of money. I started out by making pizza crust and bread and moving on to canning and preserving fruits and vegetables from our garden. I would strongly suggest you plan a garden for next year, even if it’s only a small container garden you can grow tomatoes, peppers, zuchini, and even cucumbers in a container garden. My mom does it every year. You can do it, you just have to think out of the box. I remake leftovers………say you roast a whole chicken. We have chicken for dinner and then I strip all the left over meat of the bone and safe the drippings in the pan to make chicken A la King for dinner the fallowing day ( you only need a cup of cooked chicken). Not enough for that, okay make chicken salad for sandwiches. I am constantly remaking leftover into something new and delicious. Seriouly any left over taco meat gets made into taco macaroni add a can of red beans and a little cheese and you have whole new meal. I wish you Good Luck, I know just how stressful it can be trying to feed your family. I spent many nights crying about our situaion, but I am happy to say it taught me so much not only about budgeting, but about my beautiful family too.

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37 sharon August 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I get food stamps and its not $200 a month it is less than that. And with out food stamps I would starve. But with me I go to a local store that has everything for $1.00 even food. It works. But food stamps does not pay for personal items, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins. and other things like that. So the dollar store is great for that too. Unless you have a friend who can get toilet paper someplace for free, the rolls that the place cannot use anymore. Its great. I use it.
Look on line for free items laundry products, many companies give free samples. I love salads, so is buy lettuce, and things that last a long time for me. go to your local food banks that will give you free food. I have. Even churches do this. Left overs are great to eat.

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38 Little red ridding hood August 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Please remember that the amount you see in the chart is the Maximum monthly family allotment, in actuality it is much less. My family of 4 was on SNAP for a year and our monthly allotment was $163.00. A god send when you can’t afford groceries. I managed to feed our family very well. As a matter of act I still stick to that as our monthly budget for groceries. We do plant a garden every year and home can from our garden.

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39 Telisa August 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I have a family of 3 with 5 dogs and 3 cats. We live off $200 a month. We do not qualify for food stamps but this is all we can afford. That $200 includes our food, dog food, cat food, kitty litter, TP….etc.

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40 janell h August 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm

I live in Georgia and I don’t spend that much a month on just food for my family of 3. I’m not even sure I spend that much on paper/cleaning/laundry/dog food products inclueded. If I was givin $526 a month for food, we would eat a lot better foods than we do now.

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41 Megan September 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

Our max would be $756 with WIC for a family of 4.
Background:
*I am a SAHM, my husband is the breadwinner.
*we are middle class, we don’t qualify for any government assistance
*we have 2 kids 4 years and 8 months
*we live in rural Iowa
*I am frugal not because I am forced to be-we have a cushion to rely on if we screw up- or if we want. (I don’t mean this to sound high and mighty- just saying that I ‘m not sure now how I would function if I HAD to survive on less). However me staying home does mean that I have less to work with.

I’m not sure what to think of this challenge. It’s a great idea, but it seems like the “max” numbers aren’t what most families actually get. If we got the max amounts, there would be absolutely no problem doing this. I’m gonna think on this, it would be interesting to find out what families in my area actually get…

While reading comments: It does seem like people are challenged by managing either money or food or time resources to their best advantage. I totally get that!

I have some frugal and quick meals, and some other cheap fun ideas on my blog simplyinspiredbymegan.wordpress.com. It seems there are a lot of questions about how to use time and money wisely when it comes to food, so I’m going to think it over, and you may see a blog post with my thoughts sometime soon.

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42 Jane Ulness March 23, 2013 at 2:25 am

I was a single parent for years. It was the 70 s with double digit inflation and I had a low paying job with no raises for three years and almost no child support. I made it on 25 dollars a month some months. Now, I am retired and my husband and I along with supplementing my single mother daughter spemd an average of 70.00 a week. ThenUSDA publishes stats on 4 different income groups and breaks down the ages of family members. The amount for my husband and I and the baby is 104.00′for the thrifty plan. I supplement both of them, but that was the most fair breakdown I could come up with. I have been growing a stock with that. When it was brought to my attention that people were running out of food before they ran out of food stamps, I began writing a blog. Food stamps take onto consideration where you live and what other income you have. You can do it on food stamps, it takes some work. Planning and organizing. There are creative ways to store food.
it is not good for a child’s sense of security to wonder where the next meal is coming from. Keeping a stock gives you a sense of security and prepares you for a disaster. We had snow and the main highway to get food was 8 feet under water. Grocery stores were not getting deliveries.
We still had food in the house. the trick is education, Many people , especially the generation food scampers and the new poor, don’t have a clue. That’s why I started my blog.

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43 janell March 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I know this is an old post, but I saw a link to your page on another site and wanted to check it out. We are a family of 3 and wish I had the maximum amount for our family to spend on JUST food. I don’t spend that much on all my consumer goods.

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44 Kelly April 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Hi Katy – curious if you plan to do this in 2013?

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45 Katy April 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I did a food stamp challenge this last fall.

Katy

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46 Allison October 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

That’s for those with no income . were a family of 5 we get 200. We eat rice potatoes with every meal and dint eat lunches or snacks but we have 2,900 before tax budget and we spend a good 400 when we can afford to a month in our own cash about the same amount of this income is paid out for child support for my step daughter but foodstamps doesn’t count it as a deduction for some reason . its difficult but I’m about to invest it in seeds after income taxes so i can get a garden going and buy a gun to hunt forr meat because as my kids get older they want more to eat and we just ant surviving well on this sometimes my husband and i just don’t eat.

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47 Curt November 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I know this was posted a long time ago, but I thought I would clear something up. I didn’t read all the comments, but in a quick scan I didn’t see this point brought up.
A families monthly food stamp allotment is NOT meant to be their food budget for the month. This is a HUGE misconception. Look at the program’s name: SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Plan. Food Stamps are meant to supplement and enhance a family’s food budget. Food Stamp Clients are informed of the supplemental nature of the program when they come through the door. This is important because everybody taking this challenge are trying to feed themselves and their families on a food stamp allotment. Clients are expected to contribute to their food budget. Eligibility is determined based on income, so if there is no income then I guess that would be an exception. It has been my experience (5 years determining Food Stamp and Medicaid eligibility)however, that the vast majority of clients have some level of income.

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48 Daphne March 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

First off, I don’t know if anyone will read this. This article is pretty old. I think this project had good ideas but using the max undermines the point of the challenge. Many people do not get very much. I also have read that most of you have gardens, livestock, organic markets, etc. Look at it from the perspective of a citizen that does not have those extra perks.

For example,

I am 24. I make a little more than a dollar over minimum wage. I rent my home. I do not have very many cooking utensils or pots and pans. I don’t have a microwave. There is nowhere to make a garden. So no extra stuff and what I can purchase and prepare is limited.

My gross wages are roughly $1200. Net is about $800 after you take out taxes and the $250 I pay for health insurance.

My expenses are:
Rent: $200
Utilities: aprox. $125
Car: $170
Car insurance: $190
Phone: $25 (necessity I work from home)
Internet: $60 (also necessary)

Total: $720

That leaves me $80 to pay for food, toiletries, and anything else I need. This is on a good month where I did not take any time off and maybe worked a little overtime. On a bad month I have no money for food. My eligible SNAP amount? $25.

If you want to be realistic with this challenge, try cutting that number in half and making it through the month. Try to pretend you don’t have a garden, or you have to buy overpriced food, or you don’t have all of your utensils, appliances, and dishes. Try starting out with bare cabinets, because when you are on food stamps and don’t have children the cabinets are always bare when you receive the benefits.

I feel like you all made this sound so easy. Of course it is when you are pretending with the best possible situation. Most people don’t have any food by the time they get their first benefits.

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