June Food Stamp Challenge Update

by Katy on May 20, 2010 · 10 comments

The specifics for the June Food Stamp Challenge are well underway. And by “well underway,” I mean that I’ve been mulling and re-mulling it over in my head. My trusty readers have brought up great questions, and have been helping me to figure out how this idea of mine is actually going to work.

  • My family will spend the month of June only spending the average Oregon food stamp allotment for a family of four. ($294.90, but I have yet to 100% confirm this number) Any money saved will be donated to The Oregon Food Bank.
  • My sons will be in school until June 15th, so I will add $3 per day for half the month, which is how much assistence we would be getting for school lunches.
  • I do have a medium amount of stored food in my cupboards. I will try to eat this down some. Especially things like individually frozen chicken breasts, which my husband always buys when he goes to Costco. (I complain about the expense, but I secretly love knowing they’re there!) I will continue to stock up on loss leaders, which is how I have so much extra food to begin with.
  • Items that cannot be purchased using food stamps include paper products and toiletries, vitamins, hot foods and pet foods. I will get a more precise list when my schedule opens up a bit more. (I’ve been very busy this week with two family birthdays and my day job as a nurse!)
  • I am trying to find different experts who will be able to guest post and add to the conversation. People who specialize in couponing, home cooking, food waste issues, organic cooking on a budget and the like. If you are interested in doing a guest post, please shoot me an e-mail.
  • My husband and kids are already groaning about the imagined sacrifices they are soon to make. I pointed out to them that last night’s dinner would have been well within our soon-to-be tightened budget. We were eating chicken drumsticks, (88¢ per pound.) oven fries, made using a ten pound bag of potatoes, which cost $1.99; a big green salad, which included half a 79¢ avocado, some Dollar Tree feta and homemade salad dressing. The head of lettuce set me back $1.29 and yielded enough for four big salads plus sandwiches.) There were even leftover drumsticks, which served as my older son’s pre-dinner meal, (he’s 14-year-old and eats like a freakin’ horse!)
  • I am looking forward to researching and writing about alternative food sources like foreign food markets, gleaning and the like.
  • Those of you who already are living with food stamps, I hope you stick around to add your wisdom to the conversation.

Thanks to everyone who has been adding their two cents in the comments section. I think this is going to be a very eye opening experience, and look forward to sharing it with you!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate in NY May 21, 2010 at 3:24 am

I am up for the challenge, and so I checked the NYS food stamp website – apparently, the maximum benefit for a family of 6 (like ours) is $838! That would actually be an increase in what I am currently spending – – – and we eat pretty well – mostly organic (CSA) veggies, meat, etc. – even an allowance for wine. So I don’t really get it. How do the “maximum allowances” work?


J. Smith May 21, 2010 at 5:30 am

You may want to check out farmers markets. I don’t know about Oregon, but in Kentucky food stamps/EBT cards can be accepted at farmer’s markets.


Cyndel T. May 21, 2010 at 5:47 am

Hello! I’ve never commented on your site before, but I absolutely love reading your articles. I am currently receiving only a living stipend because I am a national volunteer and would qualify for food stamps. However, I’m living with my boyfriend and by splitting rent, utilities, and food down the midle, I have not had the need to get food stamps. However, some weeks are still tight, so I understand being right on the edge of deciding whether to purchase food or a bus pass to get to work.
I talked to my boyfriend and we’re going to do this challenge! We live in Maryland (close to DC), which has a high standard of living, so our allottment may be higher than some in other parts of the country. I’m doing the research right now! Thanks for this great challenge. I’m not sure that our allotment will be much lower than our budget now, but hopefully it will give us a chance to see what it would be like if we used food stamps.


Molly On Money May 21, 2010 at 8:03 am

I knew nothing about this but strangely last month my husband and I decided to cut our grocery budget in 1/2 for the rest of the year. What is half? $300! Right now we have $25 left to get us through May.
Some of my girlfriends think I’m going to warp my kids and scare them. My response, the difference is they know we have the money to spend if we wanted to. That’s miles away from parents that don’t have that option. I’m not starving my kids but we are having an adventure trying new things.


Lisa May 21, 2010 at 9:01 am

Molly- I think you’re teaching your children a great lesson and not frightening them at all. I’m old enough that I can recall being taught frugal ways of living as a child. In those days, it was just a way of life. Beginning somewhere around the ’70’s parents began centering their lives around their children’s wants and activities. Designer clothing and the latest electronic gadgets became the “in” thing. Kids were drowning in after school activities. People began putting more emphasis on attaining the outward status of wealth and didn’t stop to consider the long term costs to their own well-being or that of the planet. I’m thrilled to see that this tide is turning.

Katy- I’m really looking forward to the June challenge and reading how others manage their food budgets. I do receive food stamps and always have leftovers at the end of the month so will be sharing with you all my methods of scrimping.


Ruthie May 21, 2010 at 8:51 am

I would like to try, but I can’t figure out how much to budget. We are a family of 2.


The Saved Quarter May 21, 2010 at 10:47 am

I’m on food stamps and I’d be happy to write a guest post on menu planning to make the most of my budget, and how to take advantage of store offers to get free paper and personal products.


Angela May 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

Hi Katy- Search The Crunchy Chicken for the “food stamps challenge” or something like that. She issued it sometime last spring and the idea was to prove that it is possible to eat healthy and local on the food stamps budget. My husband and I have been doing it for over a year now and that’s even including a bi-weekly organic produce delivery.

The allowance was about $38 per week per person, I forget the exact amount. I remember that I calculated we needed to stay under $330 a month, which we have been able to do almost every month, and not including paper goods and toiletries.

It’s funny I haven’t even talked about it on my blog for ages, it’s become ingrained. I’ll have to bring that up soon. And I’ll talk about your challenge for June.


Angela May 21, 2010 at 11:08 am

Here’s the sustainable food/food stamp allotment challenge:

It’s a great post- very inspiring!


Michelle May 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Good luck Katy! I can’t wait to read how this is going.


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