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This past week more than two dozen Democratic members of congress decided to compete in the SNAP Challenge and in their words "call attention to the necessity of the program" while also showing how difficult it is to eat on the average of $31.50 per person, per week allocated under the SNAP program.
I read the article in Politico and looked at the receipts posted and could not stop thinking that these people either don't know how to live on a budget or that they were intentionally trying to make it look overly difficult to budget and eat healthy. Maybe it's both.
I was struck by the ignorance of the statements from some members participating in the challenge. Rep. Ted Deutch from Florida said,
“Standing in line at the grocery store, it’s relatively few items in my cart, and calculating how much I think they’ll cost only to learn that I was off by a little bit, which necessitated putting back a couple of items and leaving with even less — it’s just really difficult to do once, I can only imagine how excruciatingly difficult it must be to that every single week.”
What? You had to calculate how much you had before you spent it and you may not get everything you want? This is news? Isn't this what the majority of Americans do when they're buying groceries? They figure out how much they have to spend and then they live within that budget. I would love to stock my cart with lobster, ice cream and choice bacon, but I can't afford it, so I don't. Is this congressman so out of touch with reality that he doesn't realize that families, unlike the government don't spend money first and figure a way to pay for it later? Probably.
Don't even get me started on Rep. Donald Payne who spent $1.08 for a single hard boiled egg. Yes, one egg. At the grocery store in my town you can buy an entire dozen eggs for $1.13, and for one person that's a lot of meals.
First, let's not forget that the SNAP program stands for "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program." Supplemental. It was never intended to be the only source of food for an individual or family, it was intended to keep people from starving. The Democrats want you to believe that people can't possibly live on less, therefor you need to increase the amount given to the program. They don't want you to know about the waste, fraud and abuse occuring, just that shopping is really, really, hard.
Maybe instead of wasting time on publicity stunts like the SNAP Challenge, members of Congress should spend time with housewives and moms who know how to make a budget stretch. Our family of four eats very well (follow me on twitter and instagram if you don't believe me) on less than $300 a month, or in SNAP terms, $17.50 per week, per person. Our average weekly grocery bill is $70. If we were living solely on the supplemental program of SNAP we would add nearly $204 a month to our budget!
Democrats in congress want you to believe that you have to survive on merely peanut butter and tortillas, but it's simply not true. I watched others on twitter posting their receipts and pics and figured I'd join in the fun. Eating healthy and low cost can be done. Don't believe me? For $70.64 I purchased the following:
Honey Nut Cheerios
3lbs Top Sirloin
1lb ground beef
1lb ground turkey
1.5lbs fresh cut sharp cheddar
1lb fresh brocolli
4lbs fresh oranges
3lbs frozen chicken breasts
One package of roasted turkey lunch meat
Kraft Ranch Dressing
2 cans Santiam green beans
3 cans Santiam corn
1 whole 4lb chicken, fresh
1 gallon 2% milk
1 head of lettuce
1 loaf sourdough bread
2lb spaghetti squash
5 fresh tomatoes
1 dozen eggs
Now, if I really wanted to show what can be done on a tight budget, I'd have used coupons, bought large amounts of meat to freeze, bought tons of pasta and rice and maybe even thrown in a canning lesson. But, none of that is necessary to survive on SNAP. What is necessary to live on tight means is a little common sense. You'll notice I didn't buy processed foods, bottled water and soda which adds up fast! I bought food that you can prepare and make healthy meals with.
I'll gladly go head to head with any congressman on a budgeting challenge. They want you to believe that it's difficult to spend $31.50 a week wisely, while simultaneously racking up billions of dollars of debt by the hour. The real SNAP Challenge should be figuring out a way to get people off of government assistance and provide for themselves and their families. Jobs are the solution, not more government assistance.
The number of Americans on food stamps is soaring, even after trillions in stimulus and failed government intervention. Maybe, just maybe the people who can't figure out how to grocery shop shouldn't be running the country.
Follow me on twitter at @KristinaRibali