May 5, 2007

Governor On Food Stamps?!

Did you see this? The Democratic Governor of Oregon (Ted Kulongoski and his wife, Mary Obers) spent a week living on the cash equivalent of food stamps to see what it was like - ie: how the other half lives.

Yeah, it was all a "gimmick" for Oregon Hunger Awareness week, and to highlight how the "evil" Bush administration has proposed cuts to the food stamp program for the 185,000 recipients that qualify only because they are on other government assistance programs.

How much is that? About $3 a day per person. YIKES! Could you feed yourself for $3 a day, much less your family? I read in one place that they couldn't use pantry storage items, and that yes, they could on a limited basis in another.

Once upon a time, we were young(er), poor(er), and in need of serious budgeting help. While we worked on getting our butts in line money-wise, I was on an extremely limited budget for food without qualifying for WIC or other assistance. We cut out everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) that we absolutely did. not. need. to subsist. No, I think we were spending more than $3 per day per person, but not by much.

(Side note: I went on a church trip one year to a large multi-flagged amusement park with only $3 in my pocket for food the whole weekend and survived. Other than no one wanting to talk with me (I was the "n-eeeww!" kid), it was an okay weekend in that no one threw anything at me intentionally. Good thing I was a little padded, even then!)

Now, our lives are in a better place. We have a few extras like cable modem and a regular DVD movie night, but I still plan my grocery lists and shop frugally. We don't eat name-brand items, we eat less meat, we do shop sales, and I'm not against using the internet and/or manufacturer 800 numbers for coupons.

In a comment made by the First Lady of Oregon, Mary Oberst, we find out that she "splurged" on half and half for the big man since his ship of state don't run 'thout it. Miss Mary, would you still splurge on "food" of this sort if you knew that next week you wouldn't be back on your Governor-and-Attorney salaries?

So while the Governor of Oregon may have done it for a week, could he have kept up with his frugal way of life, food-wise, for any substantial length of time? I'd be willing to bet that the answer is no.

So what I REALLY REALLY want to know is this:

When people are using food stamps/state benefit cards to purchase food, why do they seem to choose crap like potato chips, soda, candy, and other such items which really ARE wasted non-food calories?

Before you bop on down to the comment section to leave me a love note, I must amend that this is based on the people that I've seen when I ended up behind them on line in the grocery store. I must also say that I'm a woman with strong Republican tendencies, for whatever that's worth.

Do the food stamp people enforce learning about proper nutrition? Do they teach how to cook nutritious foods on a small budget? Is there any hope for these people and their big government?

Food for Thought:
Did you know that my state (and perhaps yours) offers an (Idaho) State University extension office class on nutrition, frugality in the market, and healthy choices? I took this class several years ago and learned SO MUCH valuable information.

World Breastfeeding Week: August 1 - 7


Barb, sfo said...

I cringe when I see anyone's grocery cart loaded down with everything processed. Not that I never buy that stuff, because I do, but I try to mainly shop for "ingredients" whenever possible.

I do think that some home-economics lessons would be in order for people accepting food stamps. I also don't think chips and soda (etc) should be "payable" by food stamps. I'm sure those complicated supermarket cash registers could code for that.

I also wonder, though, if the problem is not ONLY that there is a lack of knowledge about nutrition, meal planning & budgeting, but ALSO there may be a lack of equipment/location to cook and store nutritious foods. When our church donates to a food pantry we are encouraged to bring the kinds of packaged items I will not feed my family, because the clients of the food pantry have no means to bake/roast/slow-cook other meals. It's a microwave and a hot plate. Sometimes there is no refrigerator.

sara - The Estrogen Files said...

That is a seriously succinct comment, Barb. Thanks for leaving it - and giving /us/ me more to think on.

Dana said...

That is one of my biggest pet peaves. It makes my blood boil when I get behind someone at the grocery store only buying junk food with their food stamps.

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