Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Congress (At Least Part of It) Tries to Live on $21

Interesting story in today's Washington Post about members of the newly-formed House Hunger Caucus who have taken on a difficult challenge -- to try and live for one week on only $21. Definitely worth a read.

Lawmakers Find $21 a Week Doesn't Buy a Lot of Groceries
by Lyndsey Layton

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) stood before the refrigerated section of the Safeway on Capitol Hill yesterday and looked longingly at the eggs.

At $1.29 for a half-dozen, he couldn't afford them.

Ryan and three other members of Congress have pledged to live for one week on $21 worth of food, the amount the average food stamp recipient receives in federal assistance. That's $3 a day or $1 a meal. They started yesterday.


Kristen said...

Thank you for posting this article. My first reaction was, "It's about time!" It's too bad more members of Congress didn't agree to participate. It's true that it's possible to live on that paltry amount of money each week, but not in any healthy, nutritious way, and that just leads to disease and sickness - which means people can't work and end up visiting the emergency room because they have no healthcare. It's such a vicious cycle. I don't know that throwing more money into the food stamp program will have enough of an impact because it doesn't get at the cause of people needing food stamps in the first place, but hopefully it will at least ensure that people can buy slightly more nutritious foods to feed their families - or at least enough food to keep them from being hungry. Such a tough issue!

Lone Grasshopper said...

Those guys were buying the weirdest food. Eggs were only 1.29 for 12 eggs. We had eggs for supper tonight and only used 4. Cheese is $1.69 for 2 cups. Sprinkle a handful over the eggs. Add a slice or two of burrito bread ($1.69 for 10 slices) and a fresh tomato ($1.50) for a filling meal. And it tastes much better than cornmeal or lentils. That uses $7 of the budget and you have enough ingredients left over for 2 other meals during the week. Tuna fish and noodles with peas ($4) or baked chicken with cucumbers ($5) and bread are other good choices for supper. Or why not buy many different fresh vegetables ($7) and make a stew that will feed you for a few days? And coffee is a cheap breakfast--I have it everyday--why not buy coffee if you want to?

It sounded like those guys were purposely trying to eat nasty food to make a point.

Another factor that is not mentioned in the article: food banks. Every county in the U.S. has a food bank. You go there, tell them how much money you make a week, and they give you groceries. But no fresh produce. If a person bought produce and milk at the store, he could get the boxed and canned foods at the food bank. Years ago, that's what my parents did; now, as an adult, I have plenty of money, so I drop off food in the collection box at the grocery store. The circle of life...or at least the circle of helpfulness.