Reading this NPR left me shaking my head with the subjects of the article as much as the persistent efforts by the media to victimize poor people in America. Quite frankly the two women profiled in this article are not sympathetic at all and if this is the best that NPR could do then they just made the case for further welfare reform.
If anything this article is exhibit A for how taxpayers are funding programs are not providing temporary assistance to people as they were intended, but instead funding a class of citizens who’s livelihood is provided by housing, food stamps, and a meager income at the expense of taxpayers.
I took a look at the graphic featuring this family’s budget and I really question the food budget part. I do all the grocery shopping in our home because I do the cooking. When taking out the luxuries like alcohol and sweets, we spend about $500 a month on groceries, or put another way about $170 every 10 days. A little more than a 1/3 of that goes to proteins (meats) and the remaining amount to produce and sundry goods. I am feeding a family of three and we don’t eat a lot of volume, we strive for flavorful foods over quantity.
I asked myself if I could cut that to $250 and I think I could. I buy expensive meat from a local butcher because it tastes better and I have more confidence in their sourcing for quality and health concerns. If I bought more chicken and pork, cutting back on expensive fish and beef, as well as shopped smartly at the big box grocery stores, I could probably feed my entire family on $70 a month in proteins, ramp up to $100 when you include dairy products which are also good protein sources. It would probably be a stretch but I think it would be doable to limit produce and sundry purchases to $150 a month. In thinking it through I’d say that starches would definitely be a bigger part of our diet, as would legumes and corn, but if anything the only thing I would be cutting out entirely is processed foods, which are not only expensive but significantly less nutritious.
It takes more time and work to shop for groceries smartly, it entails multiple sources like local produce and farmers markets and searching out deals, but seeing as how both of these women are chronically unemployed I am assuming that time is not that much of a factor for them.
The rising cost of food means their money gets them about a third fewer bags of groceries — $100 used to buy about 12 bags of groceries, but now it’s more like seven or eight. So they cut back on expensive items like meat, and they don’t buy extras like ice cream anymore. Instead, they eat a lot of starches like potatoes and noodles.