Saturday, February 2, 2013
A SNAP experience
Waiting in line at the grocery store today, I noticed that the family (Mom, 2 kids plus an adult who appeared to be Mom's brother) were doing a huge stock up-2 carts worth. Being the first weekend of the month, I assumed that this was a food stamp family. The groceries selected were mostly processed foods, nothing fresh in sight. Things like 8 boxes of Rice-a-roni, 12 cans various Chef Boy-ar-dee pasta, triple pack white bread, fzn pizzas, fzn pancake and waffles, about 12 pouches of noodle mix, canned chicken noodle soup,large jars of prepared spaghetti sauce etc. Total came to $422-Mom says, "EBT card." and swipes the Credit card machine, stating that she'll come back sometime this week for the "healthy stuff" as she can't get it when the kids are with her. Huh? Shopping for family groceries is an opportunity to teach children how to make choices, that you can't get everything you want (but don't totally deprive yourself either, limit it to one treat per kid or whatever system works for you) The kids in question were approx. 6 and 9 years old.
College boy was here tonight having dinner and I recounted what I saw. What was most frustrating was that for MUCH less money, this family can be eating the same menu meals PLUS the "healthy stuff." Put back the 12 cans of Chef-boy ardee @ $1.59/can, and take advantage of the 88/lb box of Stop and Shop pasta on sale this week. Ragu sauce is pricey unless on sale plus a large coupon. Do I keep a few in my pantry for emergency meals in a hurry? Absolutley. Saves over ordering out. My point is that if Mom selected a 99 cent, 29 oz can of plain tomato puree, added some Ital spices, there would be a basic marinara on hand and then she would be able to add a simple green salad, steamed vegetable (fresh or fzn depending upon price and season), if not canned. There was no dairy, meat other than fzn prepared stuff, produce. A 99 cent/lb roaster can be stretched over many days, ultimately ending up as soup for a few more. This frees up monies for other items in the grocery cart.
I take no issue with those needing a temporary hand up out of a financial situation, but there needs to be some restrictions such as mandatory home economics classes/workshops where store ads are compared, coupon use is discussed, eating seasonally, home gardening (even if only in planters), using farmers markets/pick your own farms, comparing preparation methods and their impact on final cost to the consumer (buy a whole butternut squash, vs buying pre-peeled and cubed fresh, vs pre-peeled and cubed fzn, vs fzn puree). Based on what I saw, this is a family that either really doesn't know how to cook or chooses not to. First tip would have been to cross the street and head over to Aldi's.
Prepared to put my flame suit on.