If you only had $4.33 a day for food…

What would you eat? What would you do without? And how would you feel if that extravagant sum was suddenly decreased to only $3.75? That’s the amount food stamp recipients will receive if Congress lowers food stamp benefits. In order to boost state Medicaid and education funds Congress has proposed to cut $26 billion from food stamp programs, sort of taking from the poor and working class in order to help the poor and working class. It’s a very odd decision, to say the least.

The New York Coalition Against Hunger has a post that illustrates how much food you can buy with $4.33/day, and what you have to give up if you only have $3.75. Here’s five days of food on the cheaper budget:

Five days food at $3.75/day


Note there’s no butter or salt for those potatoes, no flour and oil to make fried chicken, no fresh fruits or vegetables at all. The Coalition offers a “Food Stamp Challenge” to everyone, to try and live for five days on a typical food stamp budget. You can read reports on their blog from participants who’ve tried it. Most write about how scary it is to go to bed still hungry, and how tired you get of eating the same one or two things every day. And all note that it was very difficult to drop to the new, lower allowance.

As one participant wrote:

At first I thought that the difference between the two daily allowances of $4.33 and $3.75 wasn’t that much—but 58 cents per day can buy two oranges and now I feel like that is huge.

And that’s from people who are in the program voluntarily, and know they’ll be out of it soon. More than 14% of U.S. citizens now live below the official poverty line, the highest rate since 1994. This is not a small issue. Many of our fellow citizens are going to bed hungry at least occasionally. Children are not getting the food they need to grow up strong, and no one is getting a diet that will keep them healthy.

Still, $26 billion is a lot of money, and Congress is trying hard to balance the budget. So we have to make tough choices, right? Then let’s at least note that $26 billion is only 4.33 MIA units, or “Months in Afghanistan”, at $6 billion per month. And we’ve been there for nearly ten years, while more and more of our people go hungry. Why do we always seem to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and needy?

Hat tip to the Iowa Independent, which has been following this story all along.

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