Friday, May 18, 2007

$21 per Week

I’ve been fortunate in my life. I’ve never had to go on food stamps. So I had no idea just how low the average weekly allowance in food stamps actually is until I saw this Liberadio piece via Volunteer Voters (This piece actually began its life as a comment at VV, but I got frustrated and put it here when the VV page refreshed, wiping out everything I'd written)

$21 per week. That shakes out to $3 per day, averaging a dollar per meal.

Now, I can already hear the voices from the right chiming in to tell me how wrong I am to want an increase. Read the rest of this before you do, though.

Keeping the limit at $21 forces the poor into miserable nutritional choices. I’m not saying that the poor will necessarily make better nutritional choices if they’re given more to work with--- But as it stands now, they are forced into the very worst of everything. Fat is cheap because it has very little nutritional value. I’m sure I could save at the grocery store if I quit buying the 90% lean ground beef at $2.99 per pound and went with the ridiculously fatty ground beef at $1.79 per pound. But buying the $1.79 per pound ground beef has side effects that I don’t want, the least of which is an expanding waistline. Limiting your weekly grocery shopping to $21 per week forces you into the fattier foods. It guarantees that your diet will consist almost entirely of fats and starchy foods such as potatoes.

We face an obesity epidemic in this nation. From 1976-80, our nation stood at 15% obesity. A similar survey taken in 2003-04 put the obesity rate at 32.9%, according to the CDC.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the health risks associated with obesity. Type II diabetes, heart disease, hypertension leading to increased strokes, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems--- The list goes on.

The $21.7 billion in the year 2000 alone. That factors in health care, work absence, and school absence.

Simply put, keeping the allowance at $21 per week virtually guarantees that people are forced into the kind of nutritional choices that will make them more likely to drain our resources in the future.


vibinc said...

$21/week for food stamps is criminal. How in the world can ANYBODY be expected to even get 2 squares a day off of that?

Hell 1?

Mac and Cheese, and Top Raman are not nutritional choices, they're the last resort in just about ANY case.

That we can't even feed our own damn people just makes the Bush Doctrine of "spreading liberty throughout the world" look even more asinine.

Freedonian said...

Oh, you can do it--- If you're eating a bunch of crap that makes you sick. I'm working out the math on what someone could eat for a week on $21, and it's obscene. The health implications alone are staggering--- You'd be eating a ton of bread, rice, pasta, and potaties--- Which are part of a well balanced diet, but are not meant to be a diet unto themselves. You're asking for a fat, sick population keeping it at this rate.

ed said...

Rice and beans are very cheap, and nutritious.

I can make a great loaf of bread for under 50 cents.

I can buy a pound of carrots for less than a dollar.

I'm glad I don't have to live on $21/week, but I doubt if my wife and I really spend that much more than that now, and we eat pretty much whatever we want! It does take time and planning, though, and many of the poor are probably not up to it.