June Food Stamp Challenge — Day 19, Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on June 19, 2010 · 9 comments

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

Anyone up for a No Shoplifting Challenge?

Today is day nineteen of the June Food Stamp Challenge, and I’m spending the weekend visiting my sister and her family up her Seattle. (A three-and-a-half drive that somehow took five-never-ending-hours yesterday!)

We arrived during my nephew’s elementary school carnival, and went straight over to bouncy house mania heaven. Do not pass go, do not unload the car. Not only were there three different bouncy houses, but there was food, face painting, games and a raffle. My sister joked that I should buy a couple of raffle tickets, but I declined stating that I was on a “No Gambling Challenge.” We laughed at this, (we’re cheap dates) and then started coming up with additional Non-Consumer Advocate challenge ideas.

  • No shoplifting challenge
  • No petty theft challenge

I know there were a few more, but my I-5 addled brain didn’t retain that information. Perhaps I’ll just stick with the Food Stamp stuff for now, as I’d hate to have to moderate the comments that would come with these new challenges.

Attitude is Everything

Julia Park-Tracey, who writes the blog Modern Muse is not only participating in the Food Stamp Challenge, but is chronicling her progress in a manner that’s putting me to shame.

She wrote yesterday about an experience she had while food shopping:

“I just returned from food shopping, done with great caution (more on that in a minute). As I was swiping my ATM card at the grocery store, I noticed that there are options such as debit, credit, or EBT. The EBT card is the food stamp card. I had never noticed that option before. So I asked the cashier, “If I swipe my EBT card, does it (the computer) know if what I’m buying is OK?” (qualifies for a FS purchase, I meant). I don’t know how to express how her face changed. Her smile changed a little, definitely less smiley. Her eyebrow lifted a little. Her head jerked a little. Her glance lingered before she answered, “Yes, the computer knows.”

I don’t have an EBT card. I was really just satisfying my own curiosity. But the way I asked it changed how this woman saw me. It was very clear on her face. I have made that same expression before. When The Boy brought home a jarful of bugs from school last week and showed me, I knew I wasn’t supposed to register complete disgust at some of G*d’s creatures. I faked a smile and said, “Make sure you keep those fed now,” and wondered how long till they die. Honestly, the look on the cashier’s face did just that: Must not sneer. Must be polite. Answer question. End transaction. Next…

Perhaps I imagined it. Perhaps not. I will experiment with this question in some other locales and see what happens. Very, very interesting. But shocking, I must admit. I didn’t expect to see a visible change in attitude from a mere question about the food stamp system. Lucky for me, I didn’t pull out a wad of paper stamps, or they’d be tarring and papering me now, I suspect. Perhaps not. Just a fluke? Hmm.”

I have certainly been guilty of grilling the cashiers at my grocery store about issues related to food stamps lately, but it’s all been in a very journalistic and impersonal manner. And I have to say that I am lucky to be in a situation where no one is going to judge my grocery purchases. It’s a privilege.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Marti June 19, 2010 at 8:24 am

Very interesting. I may have to help her with her research. I’ve never noticed that either.


Annie Jones June 19, 2010 at 9:29 am

I have never received food stamps, but back in the mid-80s, I qualified and accepted WIC vouchers for my daughter. She was a premature baby, so my husband and I qualified automatically at the time, although we also qualified based on income.

Only 1 or 2 stores accepted the vouchers where I lived, so I always ended up going to the same store. When I would use the vouchers after work, dressed professionally for my office job, I would be treated rudely by the cashiers. When I dressed down — jeans and t-shirt, no makeup, etc. — I was treated with at least a bit of courtesy.

The only thing I could figure out is that when I was dressed nicely, I didn’t fit the cashiers’ preconceived notion of what a WIC recipient should look like. Unfortunately, people judge and stereotype all the time.


Beth D. June 19, 2010 at 9:31 am

When I worked in the grocery store’s accounting office, I liked counting the paper food stamps. It was like Monopoly money! Seriously though, I hope the woman was just imagining the cashier’s attitude.


Cheryl June 19, 2010 at 9:58 am

I calculated the 101. per person and marveled at having that much to spend on food. I think we would think we had gone to fat city heaven.
I have a family of 9 and we spend about 500 a month on food.
I realize most people could not pull off what I do. It gets OLD, OLD. But, I am blessed for my efforts.
Most would not be willing to use powdered milk, make every bite of bread they eat and live on a narrow diet. But, I feel it is important for my family to be as self sufficient as possible.
Our diet is not varied and it is not usually interesting. But, if I am willing to put the effort in it can be more interesting.
We eat much less beef than the average household, but I believe we are healthy for the choice.
I make tortillas, homemade corn dogs, amazing bread etc…
Yes, we do eat a lot of Ramen and PB&J.
But, we are doing it without big brother’s control.

Free to choose


Tammy June 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Updating for week of 6/13. Spent $39.59 @ Kroger for lasagna noodles, 2# elbow mac, 5 pasta & sauce mixes for kids lunches, 2 boxes poptarts,, velveeta, 2 multi-packs ramen, 5# flour, 5# sugar, 2 cans cream of chicken soup, dried Italian seasoning, garlic powder, Italian Dressing & 2 tubes crescent rolls. $17 Food 4 Less for 6+# ground round for cabbage rolls, stuffed green peppers & precooked for freezer. $4.41 for 4 tomoto plants, 2 oregano plants. $3 ice cream to take to friends’ for dinner & movie night. $5.39 Farmer’s Market for 2 monster heads of cabbage, parsley plant & small loaf of quickbread. $1.10 farmstand for 2 cukes. The pasta, ramen & pasta mixes were kids lunches while they’re off school & I’m @ work. Dinners were Turkey, mashed taters & gravy, fresh peas (turkey from freezer @ $0.29/lb). Turkey crescent wraps, baked potatoes, glazed carrots, mango. Scrambled eggs w/leftover potatoes & various veggies w/ cheese, toasted home made bread & freezer jam. Wed – kids w/ their dad, I had grilled cheese sandwich on home made bread. Mexican casserole (mixed leftover ground round, pasta, tomatoes, spices, celery,corn, onion, pepper, salsa, taco cheese, etc.). No kids this weekend – pasta & meat sauce. More grilled cheese sandwiches – love ’em. In addition, I put shredded cabbage in freezer for soups or stir fry later, 2 meals & 2 lunches of stuffed cabbage, 2 bags cooked ground round & 2 stuffed peppers – also froze unused turkey meat. Turkey scraps supplemented dog food & gravy added to food later in week. Total for week $68 against goal of $75. Not bad considering that I actually put meals into the freezer. Need to increase veggies and didn’t get to farmers’ market this a.m. – bummer. Another $7 to food pantry.


Tammy June 19, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Oops – forgot to add in ice cream – corrected total $71 – also forgot that the pizza that went w/movie night was bought by friend. Grocery shop tomorrow.


WilliamB June 20, 2010 at 4:58 pm

No throttling relatives (especially kids) challenge.

No throttling other people’s kids challenge, even if they’re not supervising them properly so you have to become Fire Pit Nazi to kids you’ve not met, have never seen before, and will never see again. BTW, Fire Pit Nazi has the power to douse the fire, notwithstanding potential appeals to so-called higher authorities.

No torching the house challenge. Not even the house of someone who hasn’t taught zir kids to behave safely around fires.

Why, yes, I went to a friend’s cookout this weekend, why do you ask?


Alison June 21, 2010 at 6:14 am



Tracy Balazy June 20, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Wow, I haven’t been keeping track, but the challenge Katy issued has made me think about it. My husband and I are the only ones in the house (aside from four cats and two dogs) and have a policy of trying to limit eating out but buying whatever we want at the grocery store. We’ve begun harvesting the bounty of our garden, starting with spinach and butter lettuce (we live in southeast Michigan, and due to frosts until late May, didn’t plant the garden, which we grew from seed, until the very end of May), and we know that will save us somewhat at the grocery store.

I’m vegetarian, and we don’t buy meat, the cost savings of which we feel frees us up to buy all the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and locally made artisan cheeses we want. We earn a pretty modest income, as a heating and cooling guy and an unemployed copy editor, but living the nonconsumer lifestyle makes all the difference!

And Katy, I’m so glad I took you up on joining The Compact! I’ve gotten such good ideas from the other members on how to live while creating a smaller footprint on the Earth!!


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