Stop the Presses: 1 in 10 Americans on Food Stamps.

336237_20081211211247_320_240Over the past few weeks, nearly all of our posts have been about the press coverage of the One Dollar Diet Project. Our number of readers has skyrocketed, and the types of comments we’ve been getting are more thoughtful and developed than ever before. Many of you have even donated money to the project (last day for donations is the December 17), which will be given to the Community Resource Center this coming Thursday. We’re honored that so many people have shared their stories, insights, and compassion with us.

Today, however, I’d like to make mention of an Associated Press article by Tom Breen. As of right now, 10 percent of Americans are receiving food stamps. That’s over 31 million people. The current national average for montly food stamp allotment, through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is $101 a month. In places like West Virginia, where the surge has amplified, close to one-sixth of the state’s population is receiving assistance.

Having been to West Virginia a couple of times, this shook me up a little.

I thought about the numbers as they would relate to my everyday life. In a classroom of 40 students, that means at least four kids would be struggling to eat on a daily basis. When thinking about it school wide, there would be 250 students whose families need serious support. This is unlikely in the area where I teach, but I’m positive that in places that share our area code, where there’s only a few miles between us, the problem is a daily reality.

If you can, take a minute to read the article.

– Christopher



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126 responses to “Stop the Presses: 1 in 10 Americans on Food Stamps.

  1. Amy

    Consider providing information for HS teachers across the country? Kids and/or teachers could perhaps do a weeklong eating on $1/day fundraiser… (I suggest week because we don’t want the kids getting sick)… could be a great awareness movement… and raise money for those who need it as well…

  2. I just read the article and it really made me think about how we (middle class Americans, although I don’t exactly live in America, I’ll use my sister as an example) think we are hardly scraping by, while people even in America are starving.

  3. Stephanie

    Hello guys i was just reading about your project and i think it is amazing and courageous. I too am a high school teacher in victorville california and i can tell you that i see the result of healthy food being unaffordable everyday. i hope that what comes from youd results and exposure is that our country realizes what a crisis we are in where food and obesity are concerned. As a teacher i try to talk to my students about choices and let them know that they have them, however, it sometimes falls on deaf ears when all they can think of is their hunger pains. Also, i have seen all of these ads on television promoting eating healthier, but as you have seen that is easier said than done. for many americans the choice is not what is healthier but where can they gert more for their money. and unfortunately, that is in the fat filled junk food at the market. And that isn’t even touching on eating ot. well i will get off my soapbox now and just tell you to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep doing what you are doing. and hopefully you will attract attention from the right people who can help make some changes. thank you!!!!

  4. Mary Ann McFadden

    All this suggests, don’t you think, that we need to learn to grow our food? I have a small garden patch, about 15’x15′. I compost and have been building up the richness of my soil. You just wouldn’t believe how much food I grow in this area. Lots of greens that grow all winter are adding vitamins and nutrients to my diet: collards, beets, turnips, chickory. I plant lots of seeds, eat the small plants as I thin them, and eat the leaves, mostly cooked in various ways. Tomatos grow but don’t turn red, so I do the fried green tomato thing: delicious. Do I live on a dollar a day? No, but I could if I needed to, and with my garden, I wouldn’t be vitamin deficient. Great experiment you’re doing, and great information and understanding for your students. Good for you!!!

  5. fran

    thanks—for doing this–i feel americans are obsessed w/food–

    i plan to promote your efforts!

    god bless & keep healthy

    fran from cny

  6. CJ Hunt

    Dear Christopher,

    saw your fox and friends interview where you mentioned that your next question was how much does it cost to eat healthfully in America.

    What is your definition of eating healthfully?.. or a “healthy diet”…


  7. I just watched your Fox news clip. I was thinking that vitamin supplements would be a must when your living on peanut butter and jelly – but then you would have to include the price of the vitamins in your budget, so forget about the $1 day goal if you have to buy vitamins. And does “Tang” really have that much vitamin C ?
    Hats off to both of you for sticking with this for 30 days! Imagine that a diet plan that saves you money ….watch out Jenny, Weight Watchers, and Nurtisystem.

  8. T

    Yeah, I can understand the high amount of people on foodstamps. In 2003 I moved to Boise, ID, and my first job after college was a as teacher’s assistant, (my take home pay for a month of full time work was $500.) My rent was $290/month for a basement. I deferred my loans. I was single and I qualified for $12/month in food stamps. Luckily, I landed a teaching job the next year. I’m married now and that helps too. We are on a very strict budget though because of our massive student loan debt. I almost wish I hadn’t gone to college because we’d be better off financially.

  9. KellyAM

    The headline is an attention grabber, that’s for sure. One might even surmise that our society has “let them down”. But I think a lot of factors go into why a family applies for food stamps — and not all of it is the fault of “society.” Some of those families’ choices go them there. Those statistics are interesting, but in the past I’ve learned that there are many community resources reaching out to people in need — I can’t count how many times our church (and other churches) have regularly scheduled times for us volunteer to stock and work the food banks, there are barrels in the hallways to donate to the food bank, etc. I also found that some of those families don’t make the best choices for themselves — many of them smoke and/or drink (my own parents did when I was young and we didn’t have much money) which is an expensive habit that has long term expensive medical consequences borne by society………or waste their money on things that are unhealthy financially for the family. (That’s not even including the ones who can’t hold a job.) They are the first line of defense for those children, and in my opinion, they let them down. It’s hard to be the savior of those who won’t aid in the effort to save themselves. I don’t want to minimize that those families are struggling, but many of the families included in that large statistic are suffering the consequences of their own choices. Choices have consequences — and it both saddens and maddens me that some of these children are not served by their parents. The fact that food stamps exist, to me, shows an effort by the government to help, but some people misuse the intent of the program. For decades I’ve seen constant and steady community efforts to fill the gaps to feed and clothe the poor — So, I can’t just look at the headline and take it at face value. A lot of factors are at play, not all of them indicating society has let those families down.

  10. Rhonda

    Check out Angel Food Ministies. My husband and I started getting their food a few months ago and sliced our Food budget. You get enough food for a family of four to eat for an entire week for $30.00. THAT’S RIGHT A FAMILY OF FOUR! If you two had each gotten the regular $30.00 order you would have eaten very well throughout the month. There’s FRESH FRUIT and VEGETABLES as well as frozen veggies and 28 servings of meat ALL FOR $30.00! See, enough for one person to eat well for the month AND SINCE YOU TWO SPENT $60.00 THE AMOUNT WOULD BE DOUBLE. Please try it and let more people know about this wonderful resource.

  11. Fiona

    I’ve got a really interesting set of photos that show families in different countries and their food expenditure each week. I’d love to send it to you but can’t find an email address on this page. If you tell me where to send them, I’ll forward them on to you.

  12. I was drawn to check out your website after seeing the Fox clip — and read your blog(??) about food stamps, so I’d like to share additional information.

    I am a single mom of two and there was a time where money was very tight and I was concerned about the three of us obtaining proper nutrition. Therefore I looked into the food stamp program as an alternative.

    I found out that in order to qualify, I had to have less than $2000 in assets (includes all of my liquid assets, all my children’s liquid assets and the value of the car, but not the house). I wasn’t about to “hide” assets or sell the car that enabled me to go to and from work — nor was I going to “spend” the money my children had accumulated via birthday and holiday gifts, so I changed direction.

    However, it concerned me greatly that what has oft been touted as effective government support is instead a means that keeps people down and out.

    At the time I was living in western Tennessee — and this may be a TN requirement — but if it isn’t, this is a dynamic (Catch-22) that will be leaving a lot of people who need help in a situation where they have two bad choices — to go without help and possibly never be able to recover from what could have been a momentary setback OR to get rid of everything that will enable them to (someday) no longer need assistance in order to receive assistance “now”.

    Since I believe knowledge “sets us free” (I’m an ex special ed teacher ) — and you have the eyes and ears of the country — I am hoping my experience will facilitate your teaching not only your students, but all the others you are also reaching.

    Thank you for all you do.


  13. KellyAM

    The headline is an attention grabber, that’s for sure. One might even surmise that our society has “let them down”. But I think a lot of factors go into why a family applies for food stamps — and not all of it is the fault of “society.” Some of those families’ choices got them there. Those statistics are interesting, but in the past I’ve learned that there are many community resources reaching out to people in need — I can’t count how many times our church (and other churches) have regularly scheduled times for us volunteer to stock and work the food banks, there are barrels in the hallways to donate to the food bank, etc. I also found that some of those families don’t make the best choices for themselves — many of them smoke and/or drink (my own parents did when I was young and we didn’t have much money) which is an expensive habit that has long term expensive medical consequences borne by society………or waste their money on things that are unhealthy financially for the family. (That’s not even including the ones who can’t hold a job.) They are the first line of defense for those children, and in my opinion, they let them down. It’s hard to be the savior of those who won’t aid in the effort to save themselves. I don’t want to minimize that those families are struggling, but many of the families included in that large statistic are suffering the consequences of their own choices. Choices have consequences — and it both saddens and maddens me that some of these children are not served by their parents. The fact that food stamps exist, to me, shows an effort by the government to help, but some people misuse the intent of the program. For decades I’ve seen constant and steady community efforts to fill the gaps to feed and clothe the poor — So, I can’t just look at the headline and take it at face value. A lot of factors are at play, not all of them indicating society has let those families down.

  14. Rob

    I totally respect what you are doing, but like many Americans, I routinely spend around $100 per person for my grocery bills.

    The way I do it, is by shopping at ethnic grocery stores. In particular, ethnic grocery stores in the bay area, where food routinely is around 1/3 to 1/2 the prices of traditional grocery stores. Due to the poor economy, my family typically relies on grocery stores like ranch 99 market and miscellaneous asian grocery stores for the majority of its food.

    I think part of the reason this diet works for my family, is as an Asian-American, with an Asian diet, rice and other carbohydrates make up the majority of our food.

    I can’t imagine going on a vegan diet on that price, but generally, with an omnivorous diet, I can generally obtain the following for roughly $250 a month.

    4 Liters of Juice (Instead of Tang, Sunny Delight – $4.00)
    2 Liters of Milk ($6.00)
    4 lbs of Korean barbecue meat (20 dollars, enough for 4 meals for 3 people).
    4 lbs of ground beef at 2.99 a lb. – 11.96
    20 lbs of chicken (.99 cents a lb – 20 lbs) $20
    20 lbs of Tilapia/Bangus Fish (.99 cents a lbs) $20
    6 lbs of napa cabbage at (.50 cents a lbs) $2.94
    6 packages of tofu at (.99 cents each) $5.94
    5 packages of noodles (5 servings each at a total of $10)
    20lbs of miscellaneous fresh vegetables: average .99 cents per lb (bok choy, cheap tomatoes, cheap onions, squash, chinese brocolli). $19.29
    Large Ragu bottle from costco 7.99
    5 packages of spaghetti ($10)
    8 cans of sardines ($10)
    6 cans of spam like food/corned beef ($20)
    50 lb bag of rice ($25)
    1 liter soy sauce (2.00)
    1 liter fish sauce (2.00)
    1 liter vinegar (2.00)
    1 package of garlic (3.00)
    20 lbs of potatoes (6.00)
    4 24 packs of diet coke (36.00)
    2 36 packs of water (15.00)
    Total to feed 3 people: 249.12 a month.

    If you’re trying to save money and survive, you might want to check out some ethnic markets. I’m not sure if that follows your rules for your diet, but hey, it works for me.


  15. KellyAM

    P.S.: I also saw your story on Fox & Friends and was both impressed and inspired. I just bought a book (shipped from the UK — I haven’t seen it here yet) about a woman who decided to live on one pound a day. It’s an interesting read — your experience reminds me of it.

    Good for you — we waste so much food, it’s good to have a reality check like this. I was getting robotic about going to the grocery store — and spending way too much. Then throwing some of it out at regular intervals.

    Thanks for doing what you did — it’s a great learning experience for us all.

  16. I think your project is great! One amazing paradox I wanted to comment on is that internationally, 75% of the world’s “chronically hungry” are farmers, whose profession is to grow food – they just can’t grow enough. I live in rural Western Kenya, and work with farm families on increasing their yields. I took this video with my digital camera:
    of the “hunger season” in Kenya – an annual 3-6 month season where people cannot eat enough. In the video, the girl is mixing a little water and flour together, and the family drank one cup each, for lunch. 10% of our kids don’t survive to age 2. Thankfully, 75% of the world’s poor people are farmers and we are helping them to double their farm profits – they don’t need handouts, we can help them grow food for themselves!

  17. Hey there! I’m here because of the press coverage. Just watched you being interviewed and describing your diet. Yikes – No fruits and veggies! Having eaten organically (and mostly vegetarian) throughout my adult life, I’ve felt that pain of paying for live food.

    The past few years, I’ve belonged to a CSA farm and pay $60 per month for more organic plant food than I can eat myself. I have yet to read through your archives, and I’m sure that someone must have mentioned this, but if you’re not aware of square foot gardening (, check it out.

    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration. Looking forward to perusing archives and to future posts.

    Suzanne McDermott
    Landscape into Art

  18. I’d probably change the part about struggling to eat to something else. I know a lot of people on food stamps in my area they and buy steak and lobster, not peanut butter. I wish my family qualified for food stamps. Would help a bunch. My two cents. Flame on!

  19. rich in palmer

    why not target 25 cents per day…in the fine state of Massachusetts, Food Stamps recipients get about 500 dollars/month…I try to purchase food at discounted prices and with decent quality…I am usually the only one paying with cash; those paying with Food Stamps are often obese..seems like they should get by on alot less.

  20. dana

    Hey, I feel rich right now. I receive 176.oo a month in food stamps. After the costs of other groceries (toilet paper, etc.) I figure about 4.oo a day for food. Of course it never seems to work out that way. In the last two weeks, due to an extended illness, I had to use a weeks worth of grocery money for medications. I’m not complaining–without the food stamps I would be starving.
    Getting people out into the garden to grow their own food (and growing for others who are unable to) is one of the best ideas. The problem I see is that many who are living in poverty in this country also live in high density urban areas and do not have access to land to grow. I live in a city apartment that gets very little sunlight on the patio. The landscapers are constantly spraying chemicals around my outdoor area. Growing clean, healthy food is just not an option here. Access to community gardens is limited–waiting lists of up to four years in this city. How do we create opportunities for the urban poor to grow their own food if they want to do so?

  21. The whole money situation for my husband, son (2 years old), and myself has been rough. We often debate what’s more important, food or bills. We live in Michigan, and I can let you in on our experience with food stamps (The Bridge Card).

    My husband went a good 6-7 months without a job, and about 3 months into it, I decided we didn’t have enough in savings to keep it up until a job opening was available, so I went to our local Department of Human Services (DHS) office. I filled out the paper work for food benefits, temporary cash assistance, medical assistance, I met with the case worker, and eventually got assistance and a bridge card. The process took about a week.

    The temporary cash assistance gives you a lump some of what you would get in a 3 month period if you were on regular cash assistance. The difference is that you expect to have a job within the time frame, and you avoid a lot more paper work with the temporary one. We had enough here to pay rent and bills for 3 months.

    I’m afraid to say I was happy to be able to afford food. Even when we had an income, we could never imagine being able to afford things like fresh fruit and veggies. We were allowed $465 a month just for food!

    Before benefits, we only made about $1000 a month. After rent and bills, that left only about $300 for food and other things like clothes, diapers, and all the other normal everyday items you need. It wasn’t much. We pretty much spent $40 a week on groceries. That’s for 3 people. So $465 for food was great.

    One thing I noticed was we didn’t eat out at all. We could afford enough food so we never had to rely on the double cheeseburger as a meal. We always sacrificed our good eating so our son could have healthy foods. On the bridge card we got salad, apples, grapes, and dare I say it, actual meat. Salmon, steak, chicken, things we could only sacrifice for. No more hotdogs and tuna for us.

    We will be going off benefits very soon because my husband got a job, and I guess it’s state law that you have to make less than $700 a month to qualify for benefits.

    What I learned was, unless we make more money, it’ll be hard to eat healthy. Times are tough and the only thing we can do is evolve beyond it.

    Don’t know if this helps, but I’m more than willing to talk about it.

  22. Your experiments are at first thought absolutely crazy. With a little more in depth reading I find them absolutely fascinating. Like most people in the recent past we all saw you on the news. I saw your post on Yahoo News. I think with some small modifications so kids and adults alike don’t lose such drastic weight your diet could catch on. It also seems like the food you were eating wasn’t the best but it also wasn’t the worst either.

    I find this and your future experiments very exciting. I added you to my favorites so I can keep up 🙂

  23. whwong

    How much of the current bailout monies could be used to feed the hungry … maybe, our current public representative are not hungry enough. Our lame duck president, vice president and staff members are making last minute changes to our nations rules … could one or more of these changes include aid to feed the hungry or food stamps support. Will program(s) to feed the hungry be an item on the change list for the new administration … major corporations develop strong management teams through ‘outward bound’ programs, maybe members of the new administration should live on food stamps for a month to gain knowledge and understanding can come later.

  24. Wow! I think you guys could have done a lot better using coupons. Did you ever consider it??

    My family and I (5 people 2 dogs and 1 fish) have a $250.00 per month budget on food. We do very well and are able to buy fresh, organic, vegan products. With pleanty left over.

    Here is a tip: try hot coupon world (dot com)….you’ll be amazed about how much money you don’t have to spend on food.

  25. Suzanne

    That is how my daughter and I almost always eat. The problem is that carbs are cheap, if you get assistance you get ALL carbs, no meat. No veggies, no fruits, my daughter gets that at school and at relative’s houses. I don’t usually eat meat, veggies or fruits because I can’t afford to buy it. I eat pretty much carbs. When we have money for food, we get 6 boxes of mac and cheese for $1 or whatever. That is why people on food stamps might be overweight. In order to be at a healthy weight, diet MUST be balanced. If 100% of your diet is carbs, you will be overweight. Then they can’t afford to go to the gym and they are constantly stressed about financial things and stress causes your body to hold onto fat. That is the pure truth from someone who has been there. Tired, cranky, maybe that is also contributing to holding them down where they are. Really makes you think…

  26. Penelope

    This has to be one of the most interesting projects that I have seen. I’m a single mom with one child and I am always looking for ways to create a healthy diet for my son, while still remaining in my budget. And that budget is always tight. Considering I do not meet the requirements for assistance in my state, I looked for alternatives.

    Like a lot of other people, I have struggled with the option of processed foods versus fresh foods in an attempt to create a healthy menu. I went to the older members of my family for advice. Considering some of them had been through the depression, I figured their wisdom would be invaluable. I was right on the “money”, so to speak.

    My grandmother suggested that I start a “victory garden”. Something the war brides did. I bought a book on how to can. I also scrounged the flea markets and garage sales for canning supplies. I was suprised to find out how many of the supplies I needed were available at very cheap prices. I also hooked up with the people at the local farmers market, where I purchase a majority of my meat protiens. It may be a few cents more a pound, but I know the people that raise the animals….and, more importantly….I know how they raise their livestock.

    Needless to say…for my son and I, I spend about $50.00 a month on food in the summer (most of our diet consists of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables) and about $75.00 a month in the winter (most of that expense is in meat protein). My son and I are very healthy because of this major change in our diet. It also teaches him to be a little more self sufficient and to appreciate where his food comes from.

    I hear all kinds of excuses from people. That they don’t have the time, the resources, the money to start out…blah blah blah. The resources are out there. I live in a major Northern U.S. city. I have limited space. I have limited income. But if I, a single mom, with a house, a car and a job that grosses $1,800.00 a month can do it….anyone can. It just takes commitment and dedication.

    As Harry Nilsson said in “The Point”…..”You see what you want to see….and you hear what you want to hear.”

    And I am still saving for New Dehli………

  27. If you would use the and food ministries you would eat very well for 30 bucks a month. And if you feel bad about getting assistance do volunteer work. They always need extra hands to pass out the foods.


  28. Shalis

    I am an 20 year old female in DC. Eatting on a dollar a day is my reality. Some people just dont see that alot of people who truly need food cant get it.

  29. KCurry

    I am a single mother of 2 living in WV. I recieve foodstamps. I am working part time and attending nursing school in order to get off public assitance. Before I decided to go back to school, I had what in this area was a “good” job and I make $9.00/hr. I qualified for $14.00 a month in food stamps. Now that I’m part time I get about $200 a month which still isn’t really enough to feed a family of 3 for 30 days. What is sad is that I already have one college degree and I’m starting on a second one. I can’t afford to feed my kids with a college education.

    I’ve become very frugal in the kitchen. I can usually feed my family on about 3-10 dollars for the entire day. My kids get free lunch and breakfast. I rarely buy fresh produce, and I make things from scratch. I never buy soda or processed beverages and we drink a lot of iced tea. Fortunately for my kids I’m a good cook. I hate the fact that I can’t afford to buy fresh veggies and fruit. I think this project is a fantastic wake up call to how much money we waste and how lucky most of us in America truly are when it comes to food.

  30. feemcgee

    just found out about your site through yahoo news and i must say, this is incredible. it’s such a neat way to raise awareness and put things into perspective. i definitely look forward to reading your site every day!

  31. Nice follow up today. When you break the 1-in-10 number down as you did, it really hits closer to home. Even more so when you mentioned that your students were unlikely to be affected; made me realize then that means there are communities where more than 1 out of every 10 are in trouble.

  32. Ryan

    I just saw your video clip on frontpage today. First thought…no way on a dollar a day. Now you have me thinking on how I can save so much money on food. And great timing too as I was just laid off. Simple, awesome idea. Thanks for sharing.

  33. TSunnyBlue

    This is a fantastic subject/project, because those living in poverty are noted to live on less than a dollar a day. I think this is a political issue as well as a moral one. We (Americans) waste so much on food and material pleasures.

    …After determining what is “morally significant” I have changed my life and try to live as frugal as possible 🙂

  34. J

    DO you 2 go 2 stores like “99cent store” or is that too pricey??

  35. Dearest Teachers: I found your project amusing, having lived “simply” out of necessity, during several periods of my life (at one point, sleeping in my VW Karmann Ghia, digging in dumpsters, and eating macaroni and cheese). The biggest irony of your project is that neither of you could not afford FRESH vegetables! Healthy eating is JUST as important as just plain ingesting of calories… Also, having once worked as a county welfare worker, I have found– at least in California– that many who receive assistance in our state don’t really NEED assistance– as an example, two of the “workfare” clients on my crew made more money than me! (under the table, of course). Is there hunger in America? Certainly. Is there starvation in the U.S.? I’ve never seen it. I applaud you for your efforts, but would remind you that many folks CHOOSE to go hungry, selling their food stamps to buy alcohol and drugs… so sad, but the reality of life in a wealthy country. regards, jeff

  36. Robin

    People are finally proving what I have been arguing, complaining and worrying about for ages. My hat is off to you two, and your ambition and dedication to making everyone aware of the crisis that OUR low income families are facng everyday.
    We have millions of starving and nutrionally challenged people in our own lands. Good, honest
    hard working people and their families struggling to not only afford to be able to eat, but to try to get the nutrition, vitamins and minerals that we each need daily to be healthy! We might squeek by, being able to eat each day, BUT not with the right foods that are needed to supply our bodies with the foods necessary to give us the right nutrients to keep us healthy. I toot your horn for the awareness of a plight that runs rampant in our own neighborhoods.

  37. Maine Dietetic Student

    Food Stamps, as of October 1, are now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Here in Maine, if a single person earns more than $1079 per month before taxes, SNAP as well as all medical care is canceled. This policy keeps people poor and on the system, not allowing them to save up to buy a decent car that runs, fix things, insulate their house, or save for their children’s college. I’m a college student, in dietetics, and due to having psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia, being extremely fatigued, in chronic pain, getting the flu every week due to a depressed immune system, I am unable to work full-time. Luckily, I am on SNAP and MaineCare, and I am very grateful for the assistance I receive. I would not be able to attend college if I did not receive SNAP and MaineCare! I grew up on an organic farm, and learned healthful eating habits, and therefore I do very well nutritionally on SNAP, and I feed my mother also. I buy reduced, or extremely on sale fruits and vegetables, the cheapest per pound lean meats and freeze them, stock up on sales and use coupons, grow a summer garden of spinach, romaine, herbs, squash, and tomatoes, can and freeze garden produce, and buy day-old bread at outlets, or make bread at home. I usually buy only stock foods at groceries and health-food stores, such as rice, dry and canned beans, whole wheat pasta, canned, frozen, and fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, etc and make foods from scratch. With the $172 a month I get from SNAP, we eat hearty stews, baby spinach/romaine salads with artichoke hearts, olives, and flavorful cheeses, spicy Indian dishes, light meat vegetable stir fry, mostly vegetable lasagna, spinach feta-cheese bread, and so many other great foods! It can be done and we have tons of food in our freezer and on our shelves! But one cannot buy lots of soda, $10/lb prepackaged cookies and chips, ready-to-eat foods, highly advertised junk in glossy packages, and expect to eat healthily or cheaply! Educate yourselves about what is healthy and what stores and mainstreet media actually advertise!

  38. Perry

    I want to inform you of a program that would compliment anyone that… eats, yes, eats! Eating is the only qualification (well, sort of.) ;o)

    The program is SHARE or SHARE Food. It’s an acronym for Self Help And Resource Exchange. In essence it is a co-op that buys food in bulk and then sells the food, or baskets, to it’s ‘users’ at a greatly reduced price, due to the buying power of the group. For approx. $15.00, one can obtain a basket with 5 meat items (usually) and 6-8 fresh vegetables and fruits. The value is approx. $28-$30.

    Volunteers with vehicles transport bulk foods from a central distribution point, to numerous local distribution points. Upon unloading the food, an assembly line of sorts is set up where the volunteers pack boxes of food for the buyers as they make their way down the distribution line.

    The volunteers with vehicles usually receive a basket or two for their effort or reimbursement for fuel expenses. The local SHARE organization is permitted to charge up to one dollar per basket for the fuel and distribution costs.

    Each buyer is asked to volunteer 2 hours per basket to a community need of the volunteers’ choice. One is not qualified or disqualified based on their income. One only need eat to qualify!

    Anyone on social programs will not have their benefits reduced by participation. It is my understanding, that SHARE does accept food stamps as payment for the baskets.

    A sign up/payment deadline exists each month, usually around the 10th of the month, in order to give the bulk food buyers, time to acquire the necessary number of units for the next scheduled distribution, which is monthly and is either the 3rd or 4th Friday of the month.

    One can get a meat only basket, a vegetable and fruit only basket, or the standard mixed meat, fruit and vegetable basket. A buyer can purchase any combination or number of baskets that one desires and can afford. Ex: with $105 a buyer might sellect 3 meat baskets ($45) and 4 vegetable and fruit baskets ($60) for a total food value of $196-$210. That would amount to approx. 15 meat items (1-2 lb range) and 24-32 fruit and vegetable items. A single fruit or vegetable item might be a head of lettuce, a bunch of bananas, a package of carrots or a 1 lb bag of beans, etc.

    A monthly newsletter is distributed with the baskets containing helpful recipes for the items in that months’ distribution, and news is included about the organizations that are responsible for the buying and also the distribution of the baskets at the local level. Plus, important deadline dates for ordering baskets and the local distribution schedules are always included in the newsletter.

    If my memory serves me correctly, the Catholic Charities started the SHARE food program in San Diego, CA, and began the localized distributions initially in the parking lot of the San Diego Padres baseball stadium.

    SHARE Food programs can be found throughout the nation. A simple www engine search will locate one nearest the reader.

    I have been both a SHARE buyer and volunteer and attest to the high quality of the food, especially in it’s freshness and nutritional value.

    The food feeds the body and the volunteerism feeds the soul.

  39. jason

    Wow Chris, watching your interview, it looks like everything you say goes through your wife first. Just watch her facial expressions and her eyes everytime you say something. She sits there and mentally rates every word coming out of your mouth. Your a lucky man ha ha. You should try a new project. 30 days without your wife. I think you’ll be astonished by all the new found energy you’ll have. Not to mention less headaches. Good luck to you my friend!


  40. I love this blog. This will definately open the eyes of others in many ways. Even without going to the extremes that you guys went to… there are many great thoughts and ideas here to help lower your food costs. Thanks for a great “experiment”!

  41. april

    I hope that your efforts bring great awareness to thepoverty, hunger and food issues we have here in the USA. We have access to soooo much food, yet we have starving people.

  42. MHall

    I’m really pleased that people are now being more aware of America’s hungry. I am a single parent who’s been struggling since before I can remember. Most people try hard to make their ends meet while my daily focuse is trying to make my ends wave. Cause I know they may never meet. Not by lack of trying, but lack of what’s out there. There are a lot of loop holes and red tape that people fall into or get snagged in. I applied for food stamps and they gave me $11 a month because I made 50cents too much. The goverment goes by gross income when they are calculating if you qualify or not. I don’t know anyone who takes home their gross pay. So in order to survive I work, use the $11 in stamps and go to food pantries in order to feed my family. There no room for wants, only needs. I had my son ask me about a month ago how is it that you work and we are still poor. I told him there is a such thing as working poor. He looked at me as if that was something unusual. Yes we are out here, and because we work low paying jobs we don’t qualify for much. I was threatend with being homeless last year because I got sick and had to stop working for a few months. I couldnt get any help from our goverment, because they calculated my income from 6months prior and that made me be over income for the year. Now I cant pay rent on icome that was given to me prior. The system is set up wrong. We need to really do something about this. They were willing to help me get in a shelter, but not willing to help me keep my apartment now there is something really wrong about that concept of things. Thanx for allowing me to vent this off.

  43. Donald Barber

    This really puts into focus how much we spend on food. My wife and I just got back from grocery shopping and spent $150 dollars. We even leave all of the convenient take and go items that seem to drive the prices up and only go after store brand items. We do however shop once every two weeks and only go back weekly for the items like milk, eggs, etc that spoil or go quickly. Perhaps we need to really sit down and look at what we need and what we want.

  44. Becca Wood

    have you guys thought about the angel food ministries program. you could be eating a whole lot better on a dollar a day. one food box from them feeds a family of four for two weeks. its a great resource. Ever since gas prices skyrocketed, and with the recession, i know that times are hard for almost everyone these days. This is a great way to get food for your household, and you can use cash, credit card, debit card, or food stamps to purchase the food boxes.
    I am on food stamps. I know that federal programs like this can be a godsend for families in need. It’s not a hand out, its a hand up for me.
    the food boxes from angel food ministries are 30 to 35 dollars each and come with a variety of nutritious food. they work through local churches and you can find your local distribution center on the website with an easy to use menu. I have been getting the boxes for several months now, and they have really saved us money and time grocery shopping and it makes the rest of the food stamp money go farther. Just a though for you and anyone else that may need a little help with food. Check out this non-profit organization, and see if you like having some chicken for lunch instead of a spoonful of peanut butter and tang. Have a great holiday season and blessed be!

  45. Pepper Owen

    I enjoyed the segment on Fox News.

    Sadly, I live in a state that is hard hit by Foodstamps. What’s even worse is we’re also in the top ten states with a growing obesity issue.

    I worked as a casiher for extra holiday income and I’ve seen first hand what people buy on food stamps. The majority that I witnessed bought instant food (frozen pizza, fries, meal kits, chips, soda).

    People need to get back to cooking their meals from scratch. Planning out what they’re going to prepare for the week and head to the store with a specific list.

    My family of five (sometimes seven because we’re foster parents) live off $15 per day for food. Each Sunday I check the sale papers, see what meat is on sale and plan that weeks dinners.

    Feeding your family is an effort and it can be time consuming (research, food prep and shopping). It’s paying off for our family, I’ve reduced a $700 per month bill down to $450.00. (this price doesn’t include household products like shampoo, laundry soap, etc. I keep a seperate budget for that.

    I look forward to checking back and seeing where you go next!


    Pepper Owen

  46. Holly

    I think its is neat that you tried and lasted on your experiment. We all could do so much better on cutting back on what we eat and what we waste.

    Just wanted to comment: I live in St Joseph Missouri and my 4th grade granddaughter recently toured our Second Harvest Food Bank with her classroom here in town. She learned so much from that trip. She learned how much food the Food Bank has the power to buy with only one dollar. They taught them the quality of the foods needed to make it healthy for people who need the nurishment. If you do donate food to a system like this, peanut butter, rice, pasta, and canned meats and so important, as you learned, so are vegatables and fruits, even if canned. And if not sure what to donate, don’t let that stop you give MONEY. As I mentioned, they can do so much with $2.00. Here at our food bank, $1.00 can buy TEN DOLLARS worth of food, with them doing the buying. Also, after the kids toured the Food Bank, the school had a food drive and the children in the classes who took the tour ..brought way much food donations and money than the classes that did not take the tour!! Some of these students even went door to door in their neighborhood asking for food donations!! Lesson to learn to other school teachers whether elementary or high school: Take kids to the food bank if possible! They will learn and WANT to help and pass that on to their parents, as my granddaughter did me. High school teachers, may get students to volunteer for a day. I think it is a lesson these children learned well.

  47. I teach in the area with the highest concentration of poverty in the nation–Fresno–and our school is 100 percent free lunch AND free breakfast. When the schools close for the holidays, many of these kids do not eat. They are always hungry, always looking for any little extra morsel. I am always bringing in snacks to my yearbook class, just to keep them going until lunch.

  48. Marianne

    Christopher, I would just like to add to the above response by “Jason” that its disappointing (and a little immature) that your wife had to “win” the cookie war instead of “settle.” To “win” someone has to lose… Was it really that important to feel like the victor? Just settle and move on. Keri, was it really necessary that you post on a later day that you were the winner? (and that Christopher was not… I digress to Jason’s comments above… ) Did it make you feel better (or bigger) for us to know that? At any rate, I applaud you both for your efforts on this “experiment.” I couldn’t have done it.

  49. Arnikka

    OMG, you guys are right here in SD! I live down the road from you off the 56 prkwy. You mentioned in your blog about the 1 in 10 not affecting the students that you teach. You never know!—the only way that I am able to afford to live in such a high rent district is by living in an affordable housing community. With all of the development companies seeking a way to build at a lesser cost(it ends up being some type of tax break for them), more and more communities such as mine will be built on the edge or in the midst of expensive communities. As such a new type of dichotomy results—you end up having a variety of different income levels in a community sleighted by various organizations as high income. This affects those living at the lower end of the totem pole in those communities in a variety of ways.

    As an example, I am a full time student with two small kids. I have needed daycare for my children–however a person like me ends up getting caught in an interesting catch-22——you can’t afford to move into one of the lower income areas for the county as your rent has been substantially discounted by living in affordable housing (and the scenery is a bit nicer than your average East “day-go” hood-and I’ve lived in one) BUT because of the area that you’re in there aren’t any of the supportive community resources (such as reduced daycare) available that someone in my income level would normally have access too. This ends up creating a different type of financial hardship which then makes for a heavier reliance upon certain state/federal benefits. I have been blessed to have my needs met, but I know there are families in my community who despite all of the BMWs and Lexus driving around, are barely making it and might not have food OR are relying upon foodstamps to make it. You’d never think it though, because one would think that only happens in the obviously lower income areas.

    Conversely in traditional “lower income areas” a great deal of gentrification is going on such that families living there might not necessarily have the lower income that is associated with their zipcode—-I’m just saying that with the mixed development going on in terms of housing, those old ideas of “lower income neighborhoods” are going to be turned on their heads

  50. Alex

    I would just like to say that as a resident of West Virginia I have heard many stories involving food stamps and their benefits and disadvantages. I do not know how many of the responders on this page actually have any concept of the abject poverty that some people in America really live in. People may say that they are having too many children and blaming them for poor life decisions, but that truely shows how blind people are to the reality of the ecconomic situations in place like this.
    I grew up in Southern California and moved here in my early twenties, around 5 years ago. At the time I had a minimum wage job and could not surrvive on my own. I tried to get some assistance, but was turned down because I made too much for a single person to receive benefits. I was working 50+ hours a week and still have to survive off of food that I “stole” from work. Not that i was stealing caviar and filet mignon, more like the cold leftovers from my fast food job. Many people I have met have simalar stories, of working and not being able to support themselves, not for a lack of trying, but for a lack of support from the enviroment that we live in.
    Although I was working an average 54 hours a week, I only had around $20 left over after living expenses to buy food. If i worked 15 hours less, I would have received $35 a month for food stamps.
    I apperciate that so many responders have left suggestions on how to “strech” or “supplement” food supplies, but in places like this, there are simply no to very limited resources.
    Fortunatly for myself, I have never had children or I might be stuck in an impossible situation. It is an arrogant and ignorant assumption that most people who receive benefits do it because it is the easiest way and that everyone is happy, lazy people who eat steak and lobster everyday. It is equally insulting to think that people have not tried to grow their own food. MANY people here in WV have gardens if they can, but the porportion of people who own or rent land that they can tend, is negitively correlated to the probability that they are receving food stamps. We DO have cities out here and many of them are dying ecconomicly.
    This is not a self-created problem by the people who are “benefiting” from food stamps, but a symptom that points to a larger problem in America. I am glad that there are areas that provide such excellent services like giving fresh fruits and veggatables for a lower price, but in a place like where I live, it is not so common. If everyone is poor, who gives to us?
    A terrible ecconomic crisis is at the forefront of everybodies minds these days, now imagine that you have already BEEN in an ecconomic crisis. Welcome to WV! For more insight, do some research into the ecconomy of WV and then look into how it affects our minds, souls and bodies. This is one of the places with the highest rates of cancer and poor health. The city that I live in was rated the worst healthy place in America. If you want to know what it was like to live in the Great Depresssion, look into the faces of some of the people who live in West Virginia now. These are people who after a life of hard work and sacrifice, have nothing to show for it but the lines on their faces and callouses on their hands. Look closer and see how it could be your future, because after all, the ecconomy IS in a crisis… now that it’s not just in West Virginia.

  51. Meredith

    I teach day care at a local school. After taxes and student loans (I’m so glad that I went to college for this! /sarcasm *sigh*) are taken out of my paycheck, I make just over $1000 a month. I don’t have a car, as I cannot afford one, so I walk the 2.5 miles to and from work or “splurge” and pay the $1 to ride the bus (which still requires a .75 mile walk). In addition to saving up for a car, I also have heating expenses (high, as I live in the northeast, with lots of snow), telephone expense, etc. Consequently, I have little money for food.

    I completely agree with the person who said that a lot of poor people are overweight because we live on carbs, which are cheaper than anything else, because we don’t have the money to go to the gym (I do walk a lot, though), and because we stress, which causes our bodies to retain weight. I would love to eat better, but leaving my house at 6:15 in the morning and getting home at 6:45 at night (with additional work to do at home) precludes having much time to cook, not having a car pretty much precludes buying in bulk, and not having money pretty much precludes buying more than rice and pasta with butter or jarred sauce.

    It sucks, but it keeps me alive, if not as healthy as I wish I could be. Just thought I’d add my experiences to the mix when talking about food and poverty.

  52. Linc

    I’ve just become aware of your project and website. I would like to bring to your attention Reid Stowe, who is sailing and living on his boat for 1000 days without sighting land and without resupply. Today is day 600

    This is a question from the site.

    “How much food are you bringing?
    Sunday, 18 March 2007
    We will bring enough food to last two people a full three years. Our diet consists of mostly rice and beans, pasta and sauce, dried fruits, sprout salads, and salt fish. ”

    He originally began the trip with his girlfriend, Soanya Ahmad, who left the boat to have their baby.

    Another excerpt from their blog.

    “Day 23 Growing the Sprouts the Daily Routine
    Monday, 14 May 2007
    May 14, 2007

    Well you may be wondering what it is that I, Soanya, am doing while Reid is sawing away at steel on the bow. It’s nothing fascinating, just necessary. I do the breakfast clean-up (oats with dried apricots, raisins, cranberries, and figs accompanied by cowboy coffee), then rinsing the sprouts, emails, then making lunch (usually beans and rice), and the clean-up after that. Afterwards, I might get a moment of free time; usually I’m organizing something or writing.

    Rinsing the sprouts is one of my favorite tasks. It is one of the major consumers of our fresh water, but we don’t use more than a gallon on them per day. Our main beans are mung, fenugreek, and lentils with broccoli, clover, and alfalfa as luxuries. When the sprouts are doing well, as they are in this warm but temperate weather, they glow with health. There is also something miraculous about seeing a seed swell and transform into a plant, even if you’ve seen it in action over and over again. First the little tap root emerges, then tiny shoots come out signaling they’re ready to be eaten, and if left longer, the roots begin to multiply.

    We usually have a handful of each or whatever is ready which makes a surprisingly variegated salad. Then we add a little olive oil, and vinegar, maybe some soy sauce, or a dab of mayo (we don’t have much mayo) with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds or flax seeds. Dressings are fun to make and lend themselves to experimentation. If you grow sprouts, don’t forget, the dressing is part of the fun too. More on sprouts later.”

    Sprouts could be a way for someone to live on $1 a day and still maintain health and vigor.

  53. Alba

    <After seeing the clip on yahoo, I just had to check out the website.
    <<The whole idea of surviving on a dollar a day was mind puzzling.
    < As a high school student I get told by many teachers to put dedication and commitment into everything we do.
    <<Its actually really amazing for a teacher to actually demonstrate how it should be done and not just say it.
    <Congrats with your accomplishment and keep showing dedication and commitment to others!

    PS. I would love to be added onto your e-mail list to get newsletters and to here your thoughts and opinions about your discoveries.
    Thank You.
    ~ Alba

  54. jerome

    after reading a little about your experience and your significant weight loss over the month, i can only conclude that one dollar is not enough to live on. in fact, i would have to say rather than living on one dollar a day, you were in fact slowly dying (by starvation) on one dollar a day.

  55. Professor X

    hahaha… re: jason’s post above… sorry to say.. but that would be an interesting experiment. weighing your words can be draining as “the victim.” i’ve been a victim of such once before and have since addressed that with my spouse. must say that it’s not always intentional or noticeable… but yeahhh… when noticed and addressed, it’s … enlightening/lightening.

    🙂 of course, this is only inference and conjecture from the body language read!

  56. Bob

    A few comments…
    1. It takes a lot longer than 30 days to develop scurvy, perhaps as long as a year. 30 days without citrus would not do it.

    2. This reminds me of a story from my childhood. My family was from the lower-middle class. We had volunteered to bring Christmas dinner to a “poor” family. When we arrived, the family had a brand new color television (this was when they first came out and were incredible expensive/extravagant); my mother was so upset. We, who lived within our means, had one small b/w television and this “poor” family had blown their money on a color television…. only in America.

  57. Martyn Strong

    I take photos of all the food that I eat and find that it helps keep the cost $ of my eating down. I also lost weight at first and have kept the weight off. I have been doing this for a number of years now and the savings has more than made up for the cost of taking the photos (the cost of the camera etc.).

  58. I admire your courage to do this! While a bit on the extreme side, of course, this defines America on a many levels.

    For one thing, as mentioned previously, the Americans’ obsession with food. I will add that most of it is highly processed, as well.

    When I used to be a cable technician a few years ago, I would install cable tv in the most squalid neighborhoods, and one customer called her mother, begging for diapers and milk because she had no money, while she was waiting for me to install her digital cable.

    Yes! Only in America!

  59. Sherry

    I just wanted to share my situation. I live in San Diego. I’m very low income and overweight. I have had a different experience than you did as you lost weight. It is very hard to lose weight when you are low income. Vegetables and fruit are very expensive while rice, potatoes and pasta are not. There are always specials on Soda and fast food (dollar menu). Here in San Diego my family will also buy Chorizo and fry it up with potatoes, eggs, or beans. Lately I haven’t been able to afford eggs as much either. Everything good for you seems to be more expensive. Any ideas? (I usually have $100.00 to a maximum of $200.00 a month to spend on groceries and there are 3 of us) I’m a single working mom with 2 teenagers.

  60. According to many, our family is eligible for WIC, but we don’t really need it because we’ve been so careful with our money and downsized our lives so dramatically that it’s not necessary for us.

    It’s common in the military as well, which is a real shame. We received a box of food for Thanksgiving when I was pregnant with our first child. I was stunned. We donated to that food drive, and then we received food from it. I couldn’t believe we actually fell into the category of requiring assistance to live.

    I don’t know about people receiving assistance in the civilian world though. But it’s hard to swallow (no pun intended) the idea that so many children in a school could be struggling to eat. How horrible that so many children are starving while others are obese.

    What’s happened to us?

  61. We wanted to cut down on taking supplements

    and include more fruit and vegetables in our diet when a friend asked if we had heard of

    We had not so he told us that that company with its world famous food scientists developed a 19 fruit blend surrounding the health benefits of the Super food Acai berry as seen on Opera and Fox News and you tube.

    They spent no expense to combine the best fruit of the top 300 tested to have this high nutritional valued combination….. all for less than a Starbucks coffee per day you can get 7-13 SERVINGS of fruit nutrition and it tastes delicious.

    It can be taken plain or mixed with other things… the body beneficial effects are being confirmed with studies, testimonies and documentation.

    Good health and proper diet is well worth the money!!

  62. Shelley

    I’m a high school student living in New York City and at my school, they would always provide free food for us (if we fill out the lunch forms and that our income isn’t too high). Though the breakfast and lunch aren’t the tastiest in the world (and sometimes is pretty disgusting looking), it’s still edible.

    Our school have an estimate about 3000 students, but we always have more than enough food that is needed for the students. My teachers said we even get fresh food daily. But all the food that the students cannot eat is thrown out daily when it can go to people who actually need it. I’m sure that other schools are doing that too because it’s required of them to throw out the food.

  63. Hey guys! I just saw you both on the news. Wow… $1.00 a day, thats impressive! I think its honorable that you tried this. It probably gave you at least a little taste of the way of life of a lot of folks around the world.

    I’m interested to know what advisement your doctor gave you before staritng the project. I didn’t find that anywhere here but I’ll look around a bit longer to see if I can find the info.

    Keep up the great work.

    -Terrace Crawford

  64. crumbs

    You guys are doing awesome, meaningful work. Thank you for highlighting the overconsumption that is prevalent in Western society. And for always underscoring the reason for your project – that too many cannot afford to eat healthily, that too many live below the poverty line, and that it’s time to change that. Have a very happy holiday guys! You deserve it.

  65. Great story. I vlog on you tube and would love to a. either talk to you guys on the phone or b. on video.

    Give me a call 951-688-1266


  66. Sorry I posted my phone number…YIKES…didn’t see a email sorry

  67. krn

    I just read about your project online. Kudos to you for giving this a try! I can’t wait to read what you learned and what questions arised, so off I go. Great idea, you two~

  68. Linda

    I was impressed with your experiment. Yes, there are many who have food stamps, there are others of us that need them but because a $20 difference in our income can’t recieve help. How do we eat, pay rent and utilities? If you ask me the goverment needs to relook their plan. The other subject is I agree that we Americans could do without some of the over consumption of food and all the junk but, like you stated it is the junk that often cost less. How are we to be healthy when we can’t afford the things that are healthy. I have high colesteral but can’t afford all the foods that are best for me. I can see why so many Americans have helath issues, besides the cost of medications our food is not helping.

  69. Linda

    My feeling great project.
    the government needs some smart people to rethink how they are doing things.

  70. dvjeovi

    very good start, good inspiration and seems workable under less stringent cost ceilings also

  71. Scott

    I’m not an expert on this, but I’ve heard that the number who go hungry on a day to day basis is much greater than the number who receive assistance. Not everyone knows about programs that could benefit them, or even how to get involved to get assistance. On top of that, some people have a real hard time admitting that they need help, and they end up going hungry.


    I came across this on yahoo and decided to take a look. Yes, I read all the blog entries and the majority of the comments. I think that, while it was definitely in the extreme, the experiment was outstanding!
    I just did my once a month shopping trip for my family of 4 (including 2 special needs children, hubby with kidney disease, and me with ulcers and pre-diabetes). With those various helath issues, I have to monitor artificial colorings, preservatives, etc, as well as sugar and sodium, which tends to make things interesting. However, for 34 days (through January 16th), the total spent on groceries (including food for the cats and dog) came to $403. Divide that by the 4 people, then by the 34 days, and you get a daily total of $2.96 per person. We are not vegan and I actually have a hard time getting the family to eat melas without some form of meat in them, however with coupons, shopping around, and hitting awesome sales (like the buy one, get one free on roasts, or whole chickens for $, we are able to have a variety of foods – including fresh fruits and vegetables. I do meal plans based around what is on sale, and since August, have cut $600 out of the grocery budget!
    This spring, we will be planting our verison of a victory garden and I will be joining with some friends to can most of what we produce, thus cutting costs even more.
    Best of luck with your book deal and I look forward to seeing what other experiments you come up with!

  73. Paula Collette

    Thank you, for bringing so much awareness to a muliple amount of numerous issues our society today faces. I do understand that people make their own choices as mentioned by Kelley. However, a bad choice (with so many different bad choices in todays world) in todays society costs human beings their jobs, families, their soul’s. Because of a bad choice, people are lving in below povery levels, and there are alot of these lost soul’s.

    I know for me, where my life’s path has brought me to today, without the awareness made, the people who never gave up on me and faith and love, I would not have made it out. I soon learned to start making healthy choices for me, something I was never able to do, that would bring me back to living a normal, productive exisistence.

    Meanwhile some people still do not have enough self will to pull themselves out, and are living on the streets. Thank God for the people who drive around and bring fresh food and hot soup, along with hot drinks or cold drinks, the kind people who walk by and cover you up, while you are sleeping in a park under and spruce tree so you dont get wet. People helping people.

    When I first seen the title of this story, I thought right on, finally facts are shown. Congratulation’s as you two have brought so much awareness to important issues in our society.

  74. KC

    I am amazed that you were able to survive on $30.00 for a month for the both of you.
    I spend $50.0o a week for my teenaged boys for lunch alone. They get $5.00 daily. My husband and I have cut back on eating out for lunch and he is the cook. We recently went out to dinner at a restaurant and I spent $87.00 including tip. It blew my mind. If I continued to eat out for lunch along with my husband, we would be spending over $100.00 a week for LUNCH!!
    However, we are to be blame for our children’s lunch allowance. We stopped packing their lunch after they started fifth and sixth grade. Just imagine if we continued to eat out only twice a week. We would easily spend over $200.00 per week for food. I think we will be starting a money saving and food nutrition awareness project of our own.

  75. Jerry/Palm Springs Ca

    I wonder how you are able to do your jobs as teachers well while under this program. I get crazy irritable when I miss even one meal. Your story has made me think. I did some calculation and I found that I spend $5.00 plus a day feeding my 2 small dogs. What an amazing country we live in.

  76. Well done.
    You’ve inspired me to look at what I eat and what people eat…around the world.
    It has made me waste less food.

    Here is a website you can relate to, I am sure.


  77. Erik

    here is something to consider…
    vote/petition out grocery taxes there are a few cities in Colorado that have this in place
    consider this.. where being taxed to eat
    sounds as wrongful as taxing for the air you breathe

    here is an example of some info on it in the town i’m in

  78. Wow, I found your blog via Yahoo.I am impressed with your ability to stick to your vow!
    I did an experiment where we ate on $3.oo usd a day (roughly $33 pesos at the exchange rate of the time). I was inspired by an article I found online. I also blogged about it on my cooking blog, We ate pretty well, but we also live in Mexico where food costs 30 to 50% less than in the USA if you are buying unprocessed stuff but some spices cost twice or more what they do NOB (north of the border). I only did it for a little while but here is the link

    In your search for vitamin C, you could have eaten broccoli and or chili peppers and forgone the Tang.Citrus isn’t the only source of vitamin C, though it may be the easiest.

    Many people here buy their food daily, but unfortunately less and less people cook and instead of buying tortillas and beans they are eating “Sopa Nissan” and a coke for lunch. Or a bag of saboritas which are nothing more than white flour,flavoring and oil, sort of a cross between pretzels and chips. This is a country where coca cola,bottled water (a necessity since most municipal water is unfit for drinking) or beer pretty much cost the same amount of money, so usually the coca wins as being a better value for the money!

  79. I did something very similar. Mine was not spending on anything!

    It is so hard….but you learn so much from it, don’t you?

    You made people think…including me. I love your site!

    Great job guys!

  80. Just watched the video. Inspires me to be more budget-minded again on groceries.

    While my husband was in Bible college we used to eat on $100/ mo.

  81. Brian

    The key to $1 a day would be to remove yourself from buying food retail. Buy seeds, grow some food, learn where food banks exist. Our urban neighorboorhood has numerous community gardens. It amazing, but many plots are never utlized.

    I’m sure there are people that go to bed hungry at night. My concern is that is often due to poor education on resources that are available as well as how to develop your own food sources.

  82. Dawn

    Cheers to the pair of you! Very admirable, and reminded me of backpacking through Europe. It can be done, people have to just be willing, and also commit to not so healthy of eating (as you found out) unless you grow your own food.

    I wanted to comment on the food stamp issue. I know there are people who desperately need the help, and as intended, assistance should be a temporary situation until you sort your family’s finances out. Instead most recipients have been on food stamps long term and the crisis need has turned into a perpetual expectancy. I also know we as a country have enabled complete abuse of this aid. Let me reiterate saying that I am sure there are truly destitute people out there who otherwise would not be able to eat. Having said that though, there are more out there abusing the system.

    First, if children are involved, do not fool yourselves into believing they are starving to death in America due to Government failure. If there are any malnourished children I can guarantee it is due to parental neglect or abuse. Children who receive food stamps also receive free breakfast and lunch at school, with free meals given through daycare as well. If they are under 5 years of age (in New York State at least), they are eligible for additional free food through the WIC program which mandates which nutritional food can be given through coupons. So formula, cereal, peanut butter, milk, carrots, beans, cheese, juice, etc. are directed to the mouths of developing children as long as their parent/guardian gives it to them. That in itself is more food available in a day to American children than in a week to truly starving children globally.

    Problems arise with parental abuse of the system. I personally know someone who has two children ages 6 & 4 and only collected WIC checks for a less than a year because it was too much of a hassle to go down to the County office and get qualified, and as well, use the coupons instead of swiping a credit card full of food stamp monies. That person has received food stamps since the birth of her first child, she collects $406 a month for 3 people and I have never known her to be frugal as in using a coupon. I know she has purchased shrimp rings for parties using food stamps, oh and she smokes too.

    I know the Government agency suggests recipients buy sale items, and use coupons but it is in no way regulated, as the WIC program is. Correct any erroneous statement I make, but my understand is only tobacco, alcohol, and pet food are banned from food stamps. Candy, gourmet, ready-made, & lobster can all be purchased using food stamps. And aside from my personal acquaintance, I have witnessed food stamp abuse time and time again in the check out counter. I wish I could afford to eat like some of those receiving assistance.

    I have another acquaintance who may not smoke, but she has cable TV and defends having it because it’s her only outlet. My argument is if she didn’t have a TV to watch all day, then maybe she’d go out and get a job. People have internet, multiple vehicles, smoke, drink, go out to the movies, or for dinner, buy new cloths, but yet need my tax money to feed themselves and their children. In my town there is a food pantry, and this same person with cable, also receives bags of groceries every month and twice a week can go to the pantry and pick out donated food; this has been going on for years with her.

    People sell food stamps too. Even if their children are hungry, they’ll sell the stamps for cash, or cigarettes, or alcohol. Like I said, there are definitely people in need but there are more out there in sheer dependency and teaching their children how to abuse the system.

    How do you fix it? I think we should start by demanding food stamps move to a more WIC type system, issuing coupons for specific items. You want carrots, you get a coupon for produce, not frozen ones mixed with cheese and spices that cost $3.99 for 10oz. Pay $1.29 for a pound and peel them like I do; it’s the healthiest anyway. High cost items should be banned and non-essentials like candy. Now if there is health conscious people who eat organic, I’m not saying forbid such items. But people who eat like that should prove they have been, or for medical reasons need to be.

    Everything is computerized now, I’m sure a computer program can pick out items on an individuals food stamp card. If my local grocery store can keep track of my spending habits through a discount card program, then certainly the government can review the spending habits of those who received thousands upon thousands of taxpayer’s dollars. It should be part of some government official’s job to review the items purchased and then a doctor (Department of Health) make a recommended list of approved foods. If they are getting it for free anyways, why should we care if they complain? Get a job, or another job and buy it yourself!

    I cook for my family everyday, most things from scratch. Imagine that, I peel potatoes, wash heads of lettuce, season my own vegetables, cut, chop, use a stove, and manage to pay taxes. I have a right to demand others be expected to do the same!

  83. Your “experiment” is a very relevant story in today’s economy! We’ve had to learn to live with less especially since we’re living in the state of Michigan which has been in recession for at least 5 years. It began several years ago for us when we made the decision to discontinue our cable since our budget could no longer afford that luxury. We heat with wood, limit the use of the dryer, have a garden in the summer, rarely go out to eat, cook mainly from scratch, bake our own bread, can and freeze our own food. We buy fresh produce as inexpensively as possible… discovered this week that buying an organic red pepper by the pound was cheaper than buying the tainted ones 2 for $4.00! We’ve learned that processed food is very unhealthy. When shopping the grocery stores, we generally stick to the perimeter of the store – that’s where the healthier choices tend to be… produce, dairy, chicken, meat, eggs… the closer into the store, the more processed/unhealthy the choices become. It’s become increasingly more difficult to avoid high fructose corn syrup in food products… a very unhealthy product that needs to be avoided! We’ve, also, become more aware of the wasteful food habits we had in the past… just throwing leftovers away or forgetting about them in the back of the refrigerator. There’s an advantage to these difficult economic days our nation is in right now, it’s forcing us to take a serious look at how we’re spending money and not just on food. Our family has drastically reduced the purchasing of stuff… a reality check being do we really need it and if so, is it “Made in America”? As a “baby boomer”, it’s encouraging to see the younger generation starting to take a serious look at living a more frugal/thrifty life. It is now a “fad” to be frugal! May the good things you learned during your 30-day experiment become a new way of life for you and blessings in the book project! Merry Christmas!!!

  84. downcastmysoul

    I could write a book on having not enough money for food, the food stamp people, food banks, and soup kitchens, but I won’t. I might put a post up later, though.

    Suffice it to say, however, I have had to choose between food and bills. I have entered the local supermarket with a 5 dollar bill to eat for a week. I have tried food share, been to food banks and eaten at soup kitchens.

    Your diet seemed extreme and the amount of weight lost pointed to me that it was indeed a starvation diet since even a “good” dieter would not lose that much in one month! One cannot eat on a buck a day.

    I agree that gardening helps a lot in summer and that using ethnic groceries saves a ton. It’s like they RESPECT their shoppers by not charging them scary high prices for FOOD. I have noticed that eating fast food is actually CHEAPER in some instances rather eating good home cooked food. I think people are junk food addicts and actually cannot afford to shop and eat the quality food they want at home due to high prices and lack of education on cooking/nutrition.

  85. Laura

    I live in the L.A. metro area. I do not understand why so many people who live in large urban areas say that fresh fruit and vegetables are too expensive.

    I too, shop at local “ethic” markets, where fruits such as oranges can often be found for 6 to 10 pounds for $1.00- depending on the season. Bananas are often 59 cents per pound, and all the other fruit is inexpensive as well.

    Fresh green vegetables such as a huge bunch of collards go for two for $1.29, cabbage 29 cents a pound, 2 pounds of carrots for a dollar. Onions 6 pounds for a dollar.

    I have even found after comparing the fresh chicken for 99 cents a pound at some of these stores and the chicken not on sale at Ralphs or such, as tasting fresh, if not sometimes even more fresh ( no weird aftertaste) then Ralphs or Vons more expensive.

    Skip the supermarket bottled water, and invest in a polycarbonate 5 gallon bottle and fill it up with filtered reverse osmosis filtered water for 25 cents a gallon.

    I do not drink any soda. My drink of choice is fresh water, and plenty of it.

  86. Fred

    Just think, there are those of us that do this everyday and have for the better part of 10 years due to a static wage rate and rising prices of food. And people wonder why some of us get a bit upset when we’re asked to help the starving in other countries when there are hundreds of thousands here in the states. Some of us don’t have a choice on this diet, we just survive somehow.

  87. please don’t starve, just make sure whatever you do you have a balanced diet, meanwhile thanks a trillion

  88. dsevans

    Thank you. I was homeless 2 years and my son is now. I didn’t get food stamps. I did go to pantry food places but except for bread or eating out of a can there wasn’t much I could do. I ate 1 bowl of rice from Jack in the box and had a Del Taco veggie burrito for dinner .Jack in the box used to have soy meat in their tacos so sometimes I had that. I lived in a car and worked part time jobs or temp jobs and had to pay car insurance, gym pmts (so I could bathe), car payments, etc. and the little jobs barely covered that and a little food and a post office box so I could vote. Many of the homeless are denied because they have a car (that is their home and only protection) or make too much (200 a week) but they pay taxes and get no food stamps, medical help, etc. and there are no low cost housing, etc. available because those are overbooked and only for people with children.
    I got a job teaching english in Korea and give money to my son to help him but they need far more than I make so they are living in a vw bug. They mainly eat a lot a burgers (not good).

  89. susan

    I thought this was a really interesting thing to find on my news site this evening..While i totally commend you for the project, it actually hit home when you talked about your breakfast..about two years ago I was out of work and recently separated from my husband..I survived on instant oatmeal for every meal for about a month and a was hard but because I made too much money to get state assistance, and had to pay my bills, I had no choice. Im happily divorced now and on my feet..I often think back to those days of oatmeal and it makes me feel good to know that I did what I had to do to many people live like this much longer than I had to..youre bringing this to light..congrats and, thanks!

  90. this is so sick, i’m amazed by you two!!

  91. divalyn

    What about trying to eat on $60 a month??

  92. I think we now have a generation of young people who were raised in a home that did not model home cooking nor healthy eating… this is a foreign concept to too many individuals. However, that can be overcome… go to the library and check out some basic cookbooks, search the internet for coupons and deals, read food labels. It does take some time and planning. Don’t do it and you compromise your health. Our bodies are not designed to live on junk/fast food loaded with toxins. We owe it to ourselves, our families and our next generation to be a better example. Turn off the TV, stop buying soda pop and do something constructive & healthy… you/we can do it one day at a time!!!

  93. Pingback: Stop the Presses: 1 in 10 Americans on Food Stamps. | Blog posts trends

  94. eric-yamaro

    wow amazing,, but i think that was not really healthy at all, why dont you try guys a$2/day diet.. im eric 23 from philippines ordinary citizen of manila city,i spend 45 peso per meal ($1)… that was really great guys. let me try that also, keep up the good work about your book project,god bless happy xmas

  95. sam

    I wonder what’s the minimum spending for a healthy diet?

  96. greta32

    I can’t understand this at all. I’m a single parent in Australia, and recently I lost my job, but my pension is more than what most waged people seem to earn over there! I get almost a thousand dollars a fortnight. We are never hungry. I never live in fear about how I will eat and pay the bills. Nor do I feel guilty because I am not currently working – I’ve paid taxes for a long time, and intend to pay taxes again.

    Why should I feel guilty because I want to focus on my young son?

    And what is this about not being able to afford to eat fresh fruit and veggies? That’s insane! T’hat’s a basic human right, and you’re supposed to be the most powerful nation on earth! I don’t know anybody in Australia who goes without fruit and veggies. That’s just unbelievably wrong.

    I also have a father with cancer, who is getting treatment which is also being paid for via the government. I hear over there, you have to pay thousands of dollars. What a harsh dog-eat-dog way of doing things. I’m sorry, but your system stinks over there. I feel sorry for low-income people in the US, I really do.

  97. Linda

    I find it very interesting that as residents of the richest country in the world we have a very limited understanding of poverty and hunger. The downturn in our economy has certainly brought about an awareness of less comfortable times but has not curbed our wastefulness of food, money, clothing, water, electricity and the list goes on…I applaud your efforts at living on $1 per day food-wise, but looking at the bigger picture did your consumption of other resources decrease as well? I certainly can not brag about my resourcefulness in these areas but from downturns in my “personal economy” I have come to appreciate the benefits of recycled clothing from the local thrift stores, household items from estate sales, and frequent soup (slop-in-a-pot) meals. Unfortunately, I am still buying gasoline for my 16 year old car to do all these things, need electricity and under appreciate clean tap water. I guess I am a spoiled American too. We all need to get more in touch with the realities the rest of the world deals with daily.

  98. Trade a few pine needles for the tang, make them into a tea or just chew them, plenty of vitamin C and free.

  99. Mary

    I’m so glad you related your finds to the food stamp issue, I wish you could have said something in your interview about it. I have been a recipient of food stamps for a while now, (can’t find a full time job) and that has always been my quandary. Why is it that the poor aren’t able to be sustained like the rest of society? Does the government want to slowly knock us off so that they won’t have that bill anymore? You can’t buy good food when you are poor, but society want’s to frown on the obese population of those impoverished. Ultimately, it is inevitable when all you can buy are starches and processed food with the money allotted by our ‘wonderful’ food stamp program. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know what I would have done all this time without it, but I would love it if people would stop judging the ‘ever growing bigger’ poor community. It’s going to be funny when the economy pushes all the wealthy down here to the slums…I’m personally going to have lots of fun with

  100. liz

    Is that 101$ per person or per family? Do you raise a garden? I have a very small one but am able to raise the kinds of vegetables that don’t require alot of space and purchase the veges that do require space in frozen cases from a foodservice distributer at a very reasonable price.

  101. Sue

    Hi. Yes, the ‘Economics of Feeding’ is very interesting.

    There is an initial investment but these boxes allow you to grow easily an assortment of vegetables and herbs at your front (or back) door. With a simple cover you can have fresh veggies year round.

    Again, there is an initial cost and they require daily electric but you can have fresh salad year round (and start 70 seedlings at once in a small amount of space).

    America may want to consider contracting out to garden catalogs that provide live plants (i.e., orders for vegetable plants (HCG has an impressive system that grows healthy plants with well developed root systems).

    These are just a few ideas (if you haven’t already thought of them) to include you your project and book.

    Balanced meals are so important. Meals that do not include “junk food” or processed “foods” are essential, especially during these tough times.

    P.S. Why don’t you hold a community meeting and invite Tom Daschle to it. Here’s Obama’s website

  102. It does give a reminder as to “why” some kids can’t focus in class… It’s so easy to forget the struggles that some of our students go through on a daily basis.

  103. Thank you, Angie – you said exactly what I had hoped to, minus the anger! haha

  104. lynn

    I’m on food stamps, and they’re great… when I can actually get them. Unfortunately the government has seen fit to make my family reapply for them every other month. Since it takes about a month to go through the system (even if it’s expedited), that means every other month my husband and I are scraping to make sure our 7 month old is fed, which is especially hard considering we’re both unemployed.

  105. John

    Excellent project that will hopefully help others in these hard times. Ive been living off oatmeal for breakfast and lunch, and either a Barley/Lentil bean mixture or a Kidney/Black eyed beans soup (all bought at the bulk store) for the past six months. These meals are delicious and easy to make. Along with cutting my cable back and other spending reductions, I estimate I’ll save about $10,000 this year. Ironically, I am also a teacher.
    Good work you two…keep cutting.

  106. Alison

    What a great project. You’re enthusiasm and commitment to this as well as to the obvious connection you both have for your students and mankind at large is truly inspiring. It really made me think of how much extra crap I accumulate every day. I would be interested in trying a “less than diet” for all aspects of daily living. It would be hard and <$1 would not be feasible (particularly with gas included) but it would be interesting. Thanks so much for your efforts! It makes us all feel better that there are teachers out there like you.

  107. Ash

    I loved your learning experience and I think you two are members of a small group of people in the USA, people that are willing to go through an experience to see how other people live with the life they have.

    I find it interesting that the food stamps program exists in it’s current form. It is a completely f’ed up American invention that allows middlemen to profit while squeezing people at either side.

    People that have very few food dollars buy the cheapest food at the cheapest store that accepts their stamps. What does that buy them and what does that do to the distribution system that provides them? First off, it buys them heavily processed food, because it keeps longer and has cheaper by-products as ingredients. Second, it puts a price pressure on the producers on keep their prices low, distributors to only buy the cheapest products and stores to use the cheapest distributors. Cheap cheap cheap, that’s made in America for you. Ooops, not anymore.

    This situation creates this type of problem: the distributor forces the producers’ prices so low that farmers cannot make a living wage. This in turn either insures that the farmers are poverty stricken or they give up and an agri-business takes over. Does it help the economy of this nation to have fewer farmers? Do people think that a business actually puts their health and the quality of their products over profits?

  108. Maggie

    Hi! I’m in college now, but I grew up in WV on Food Stamps and on the Free Lunch Program; normally students can get more than enough calories at school with Breakfast/Lunch during the week. The problem that arises with some especially low income families (in these rural areas) is that drug abuse is also a problem. Some parents BARTER their foodstamps/EBT card for money so they can buy drugs/alcohol. Basically, a bad situation all around.

  109. In Canada

    The plight of people going hungry is one alive and well in Canada as well. Yes, we have food banks which you are allowed to use once a month or every three months depending on which one you visit. They are suppose to provide three days worth of food. Yet it is no nutrional windfall let me assure you. Overly processed, expired, high salt, high fat and very unbalanced. In Canada we do not have programs like WIC and other places that are there to ensure women and children are at least getting the basics.

    I have a child with a physical disability and a very young daughter. After I pay out all my fixed bills (rent, telephone etc.) I am left with the grand total of about $150 a month for groceries. True that this is slightly higher than $1 a day for three people by about $50 but that $50 is for things like toilet paper, soap, shampoo etc. I am able to shop for my family and maintain a very healthy lifestyle. Though as prices continue to go up it makes it more difficult in the past. Looking over this years bills I have seen an increase of about 25% and have stopped buying a lot of items we enjoyed in the past. Still with a lot of planning and work it can be done.

    Things like beans, flour and sugar are still affordable. I buy my meat at 50% off two days before the due date and freeze. I use coupons and write/call companies and ask for free product. (Surprisingly many send coupons for full sizes.) I hit the weekly farmer’s market about an hour before they close and bargin them down even more from the already reduced prices. (Yesterday yeilded 15 bags of produce for $25. I stayed up way too late cleaning, cutting, freezing and stewing.)

    Everything is made from stratch, bread, cookies, jams, puddings, yougurt etc. We don’t eat chips or drink pop. The kids have to budget their Halloween candy because that is all they get for the year. Ice cream is a rare treat. But fruit and other healthy snacks are there unlimited.

    The problem, in addition to funds for low imcome people, is that people do not know how to cook any more and frankly I think they are too lazy. Yes it does take me a couple hours to bake bread so I make sure I make three loaves at a time, if not more. I make cookies 12 dozen at a time and freeze. I don’t own a microwave. I firmly believe this is because classes like Home Ec. are no longer in schools. I was taught how to make jam and pickles in Home Ec. I had to read up on the process but it managed to come back to me once i started doing it.

    I could feed you both very well on a $1. And you would have left overs as well! Eating balanced and having NORMAL portions would make it easy for many people to do so.

    NOTE: I am in agreement that it is stupid the amount the governments of both our countries give those in need to live on. Not everyone can cook from scratch (elderly, disabled etc). And food fatigue (eating the same thing day in day out) is a real problem for children making them not want to eat.

  110. yoon

    I’m not saying communism works (because it so far hasn’t), but it is a good idea in its purest form. People corrupt it though. The main idea to it is that everyone works just as much as everyone else (adults), and everyone makes as much money as everyone else. I’m not stupid, I know this will never work, I’m just saying. I hate it when I work my ass off and get paid almost nothing, then people are sitting around getting paid for their looks or becuase of who they know. Anyways, that my 2-cents. Another problem I’m having with this governemnt is all the wasting they do. think of all the lang wasted to raise cows for beef when it could be used to grow better foods to help people who need it, not to mention what your taxes go to pay! Supermarkets are without blame, they throw away perfectly good look produce becuase “it’s old” (I’ve seen this in walmart, and trust me, its not old, they throw out bananas for a few brown spots, and a hole case of oranges becuase one orange looks bad).

  111. Amanda S.

    I just found out about your story yesterday after seeing it on the front page of Yahoo. I read every post and even read the news articles you linked. Very interesting and Great Job!!! I’m looking forward to the book. Oh and I watched King Corn. That is insane the way they morphed corn to be less nutritional to make more and then they are puting it in everything. I don’t know if I can change everything, but I used to drink ovaltine for chocolate milk, but then switched to hersheys syrup, but I have gone back to ovaltine. Now if I could just stop drinking sodas.

  112. ShlegsofTonka

    Chris & Kerrie,
    I am weeping right now because of your work, and the small snippets of coverage (, NY Times, etc) you have received. At the same time I am giving you a standing O.

    Our country tends to look the other way when it comes to these issues as we are “the land of plenty.” Yet in just about any community, you need look no further than the local foodshelf. My father-in-law works/volunteers at the ICA food shelf in Twin Cities west metro area. Work like yours on several local levels would go along way to help out such organizations – I am cut short b/c a 10-year old needs help with HW…So, BRAVO to you. I am so inspired!

    Peace and prayers for you.
    Love, Schlegs

  113. just me

    a previous poster metioned the amount of food bought for different prices around the world… check out the book “Hungry Planet” by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio… for a peek at the photographs (which show the amount of food a family of 9 in Equador eats for less than $32 American dollars a week, or a family of 13 in Bhutan eats for $5 American dollars a week): copy and paste it, it’ll give a little different perspective on the statistic of the number of people around the world eating for less than $1 a day.

  114. Laura

    And in response to Lynn, so the government is supposed to give you food stamps because you and your partner refuse to work? Are you poor, or just lazy?

  115. I as a Canadian agree with In Canada’s post.

    Our biggest problem is we do not know how to cook anymore. Local produce in Canada is pretty limited, but it is possible to eat very well if you know how to cook and preserve food. Oatmeal is more nutritious than any boxed cereal, dried peas and lentils make highly nutritious soups and ramen noodles with an egg and some frozen vegetables thrown in go a long way.

    We have been dumbed down by the processed food industries to the point where we can’t care for ourselves. By the fashion industries to the point where we can’t clothe ourselves. By the housing industries to the point where we are unable to shop without having a vehicle or gas. We are being forced in every way to consume what we do not need and actually having our quality of life reduced.

    We are being told to work harder, to school our children longer and for what? So we can consume more and more useless crap from China. Destroy our farmland to build homes that sit empty except for us to sleep. Burn oil and gas in cars that operate for only two or three hours a day carrying us back and forth to the same three or four locations.

    North America is a giant clusterfuck of bastards selling us everything we don’t need. That’s why 1 out of 10 Americans are on food stamps. If you Americans weren’t religious you’d kill every bastard taking in more than $100,000 a year.

  116. Regina

    I have a large family…there are 6 of us…and we recieve Food Stamps. My husband works extremely hard and has a good paying job for the area, or did. He was laid off on this last Friday and there are very few jobs in our area. This means that our food budget will have to stretch much farther since there is no income for now. Making sure my 4 children have all of the fresh things they need is difficult enough already. Why is it that the healthy foods are so much more expensive? I would MUCH rather my children have fresh fruits and veggies as snacks, but we simply cannot afford them any more often that I currently purchase them.
    We do participate in the Angel Food Ministry when we can but with a family our size, it does not last long. My children are ages 15, 10, 7 and 6 and eat a lot! None are overweight but growing , active children eat constantly.
    I get so angry when I go to the grocery store and cannot afford healthy food for my family. What are families going to do……….

  117. I too have the book Hungry Planet. The last three pictures of families living on very little show very basic foods,, grains and beans with a few vegitables and fruits.
    I have read through the comments and I find the different thoughts on poverty and the food stamp program interesting. I personally have more simpathy for the working poor than those on welfare. I think there are many good reasons for welfare but I have seen my share of abuses. I was in a fast food restaurant one day and was listening to two healthy looking young people with a baby teaching a woman how to get on SSI. They both were on SSI for supposed mental problems, he worked fulltime under the table,, the baby got Wic and other benefits. They brought home pretty good money with all their manipulations and bragging about it to this woman they were teaching. I personally know a couple with three children, he claims to have a mental disorder, she has a disability caused by her overweight, they get wic and food stamps. When the first of the month comes around they enjoy exotic, expensive foods but the children go with out fresh vegies and fruits. They spend the wic allotments on expensive cheeses that he eats. The school age children get school lunches. I have a neighbor who had an accident caused by drinking heavily and so got on SSI. She gets food stamps and years later she works under the table. She also has others on SSI live in her house and charges them room and board. Most of these people are drug addicts and alcoholics but are claiming mental problems.
    I don’t want to sound unsimpathitic but if you have been one of the working poor and worked more than one job while getting an education so you could get a better paying job it is difficult to understand the laziness of these people and lack of commitment to doing anything productive with their lives.
    One woman spoke of how she was able to live on very little by cooking from scratch, shopping bargains, freezing, canning and more. She puts in effort to be productive and furnish her family with decent food. I think if it is at all possible people should be required to do something for their food and the resources they receive from the government, after all it is paid by working people. It doesn’t come from heaven.Even Angel Ministries and others are supported by for the most part those who work and are willing to work. I would much rather see food boxes provided than let these people make such bad choices .Food too can be traded for drugs and alcohol so I guess you can’t solve the problem all together. I think working in a community garden or some other community benefit program would at least give some dignity to the handouts.

  118. Sandi

    I am fascinated by your project. As a Registered Dietitian, I would like to volunteer to help. I would be happy to do nutrient analysis of your menus or to help with menu development. I believe that eating well (from a nutrition point of view) is also best for our planet and can be kind to our pocketbook too. Can I be involved in some way to help you prove that?

  119. Jacqueline

    I’d like to begin by congratulating you for this wonderful and educational project, I’m sure it has shed some light on the subject for many people… There are two sides to this topic, however. For many, living on welfare is a lifestyle. How else do you explain someone paying with food stamps and driving off in a Lexus? There is no excuse. I personally don’t feel sorry for those people. That’s just my personal opinion, I don’t mean to offend anyone. There is a better option, anyone can have a better lifestyle. It begins with will and determination.

  120. Melissa

    People on food stamps do not neccessarily struggle to eat everyday. I grew up on food stamps and I had it pretty good. If anything, the struggle is to eat ‘well’. It’s too easy to buy crap with your stamps. And with a large family to feed, I could easily see that processed food is easier to prepare than anything else.

  121. Brie

    I currently am doing an Americorps VISTA position in Toledo, OH called Food Stamp Outreach. The number of person’s receiving food stamps currently can be further understood throught the number that are not. In Ohio we estimate that around 600,000 individuals/families who qualify for food stamps are not receiving them. In the area I serve the numbers are closer to 1/3 or 1/2 of the people who qualify are not claiming them (especially in rural areas). AND on a personal note I know many people who are struggling to provide food and other resources who DO NOT qualify! So the number of need (those struggling to make ends meet) plus the number receiving plus those who do not realize that they qualify makes the numbers down right scarey. And as far as I can see with the economy the way it is, the numbers will only increase. Make donations money or food to local pantries and food banks. They desparately need it, as do their patrons. Help your neighbors, yourself, and your community be strong.

  122. Brie

    Jacqueline just to correct you, food stamps are not welfare. They are not made to and do not pay for all of a family or individual’s food needs. They provide SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION. You have a restricted list of foods that you can purchase with food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program– the actual name today) which are fresh foods and cookable foods. This is to increase the nutritional intake of a family or individual. Nutrition is very important to job and school function as the brain and body gets fatigued if you eat only sugar/starch and have no nutritional foundation to build healthy cells and fight illness. For an individual to qualify for food stamps (one without dependents) you can only make 865/month or just over 10,000 per year. Rent for a one bedroom in my community is at least 400/month PLUS utilities. I live in a small town so I imagine it is far worse in a city.

  123. Brie


    There is no such thing as welfare anymore. It doesn’t exist. What you are talking about are not meant to cover the entire living expenses of a person. If you are unemployed you cannot receive food stamps for over three months. How do you know that those people you saw were not mentally ill? Mental illness is a type of illness that you don’t see directly. If the meds are working they can HOPEFULLY live a relatively normal life and people WONT notice their disability. There are so many many proofs that must happen and beauraucratic steps that someone who fakes all of that is not lazy but ingenious. Should someone who can’t work because of an accident (even though it was their fault) go with out food and starve? I think that is a value judgement not a need judgement and therefore thank goodness that the government isn’t deciding the morality of my life or yours or anyone elses because that is not their decision. I’m sure they have been punished for their ill thoughtout actions, no personal autonomy, etc.

    Anyway my main point was to say that Food Stamps are meant to assist the working poor. A classification of poor that is growing rapidly as good paying factory jobs are shipped out and low paying service jobs are proliferating and other reasons. Food Stamps are not easy to get and they require proof of expenditures as well as check on assets. A person or family cannot have more than 2000 dollars in assets and receive food stamps. A person with no employment (as I said above) cannot receive food stamps for more than 3 months. Food stamps are not one amount but a sliding scale depending on income, dependents and expenditures. They are based off of an archain and outdated understanding of family spending which is was decided in the 60s to be that food is 1/3 of a person’s spending.

    See my reply to Jacqueline for more.

  124. Regina

    Just another small comment.
    My husband and I are BOTH in school full-time. We want better for our children and ourselves. We are among the working poor who must use Food Stamps to feed our family. There is no other way for us right now and THAT is scary. There are few, if any, jobs in our area and that makes things even harder. Less money coming in means less you have to spend on additional food items. And we do not eat expensive foods or exotic foods. There is a lot of beans and rice meals and other simple meals like that. I do not believe in wasting what we Do have! I just wish the healthy foods were less expensive so that I could feed my family healhier meals all the way around.

  125. Jessica

    I found this article shocking and yet to be expected. I’m suprised that there are this many people on foodstamps. I am one of them. I am a single mother of two young children. My youngest child has a medical condition and because of the care required for her I am unable to work even a part time job. The only way that I survive is off of foodstamps and social security disability for my daughter. If either one of these things were cut off my children and I would be homeless. The government system for any type of assistance is very flawed. If if were to get a job, my daughter would lose all of the assistance that she qualify’s for. And that’s even including a minimum wage job that wouldn’t pay nearly enough to cover my bills. So I am expected to live off of assistance programs until my daughter is old enough to be more independent. This isn’t expected to happen for another 3 years. It was very hard for me to even qualify for these programs to begin with. It took three months for me to get approved for foodstamps. I called my caseworker everyday and all she would tell me was that it’s not her problem if I don’t have food to feed my children. I do however think that there are many people that take advantage of assistance programs. I don’t even have a car and it’s hard for me to get help, but someone can pull up to a foodstamp office driving an escalade and living in a nice house and that’s ok. It’s rediculous.

  126. Annitspurple

    Just a quick comment to “In Canada,” who remarked on the lack of Home Ec courses in schools as part of why people don’t know how to cook.

    I took Home Ec in the late ’80s in Junior High, and the only cooking we did in that class was to make spaghetti using boxed pasta and sauce out of a jar. Yes, you “heard” me. The entire cooking component of this class was teaching us how to open a jar of sauce and heat it up, while simultaneously boiling the pasta on another burner. The irony is that, as someone who had been a latch-key kid since the age of 6, I already knew how to do this.

    Baking bread? Pickling? I don’t know a single person under the age of 35 who learned stuff like that in Home Ec (i.e. old enough to have taken it, but young enough that we didn’t learn things like that!).

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