Eating on Only $4.50 a Day
Anti-poverty activists have thrown down the gauntlet to those of us lucky enough to eat regularly and (as obesity statistics show) too much.
Anti-poverty activists are challenging Rhode Island residents to spend just $4.50 a day on food for a week as part of a campaign to draw attention to the importance of funding for food stamp programs.
The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Fight Poverty With Faith is conducting a “Food Stamp Challenge” beginning Thursday in which participants will be asked to spend on food the national average received by food stamp recipients. That translates into $31.50 over a week, or $1.50 a meal.
Here are a couple sample shopping lists for those up to the challenge. You can’t buy everything from these lists, but you can get a pretty good (and healthy) week’s worth of meals out of it. And if you’re smart, you’ll have some left over to go into stocking the pantry. The first list is comprised of items found in the weekly flier of a “big chain store“.
Cereal – 2/$4
Frozen Vegetables – 10/$10
Fresh Strawberries – 2/$5
Mangoes, Avacadoes, Oranges – 10/$10
Pasta – 10/$10
Spaghetti Sauce – 10/$10
Chicken Breast (5 portions) – $6.99
Tuna – 5 cans/$4
Applesauce (ea. pack=6 servings) – 2/$4
Frozen entrees – 6/$10
Apples – $.88/lb
London Broil – $1.88/lb
Or, if you don’t like the big guys, you can go to a local chain:
Hamburger – $2.59/lb
Chicken Breasts – $.99/lb
Cereal – $1.88 box
Fresh-baked loaf Italian bread – $1.99
Rotisserie Chicken – $3.99
Bulkie/Sub Rolls – $1.29 (6-pack)
Cheese Slices (Individ wrapped 12 pack) – buy 1, get 1 free @ $3.99
Deli Bologna or Ham – $2.99/lb
Fresh Marinara Sauce (20 oz.) – 2/$6
Pasta – 4/$5
Tuna – 5 cans/$5
Frozen Vegetables – 4/$5
Grapes – $1.99/lb
Bag of Potatoes (5 lb.) – $2.99
Remember, these are just from the fliers. Who knows what deals you’ll find when you actually walk the aisles. I even stayed away from the Top Ramen and frozen burritos! There are plenty of affordable and healthy options if you’re willing to take a little time, stay out of the snack aisle, buy what’s on sale (even stock up!) and “resign” yourself to buying cheaper store brand items. An enterprising shopper might even “cherry pick” the best from each store and save more. If you do that, you may be able to even splurge for a steak every now and then by, for example, dipping into your pasta reserves (each box of pasta has, what, 4 servings?).
My point isn’t to denigrate those who rely upon food stamps to eat (which, as Justin already pointed out, are supposed to be supplemental anyway). It’s to show that it’s doable. And guess what? These lists are pretty darn close to what my family of four shops for regularly (incidentally, the food supplement would be $126 for all of us). My conclusion? The current level of food stamp subsidization is plenty sufficient.