Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp budget Day 27

I begin with 3.49

I had a plan today and had to have a good breakfast. I took the leftover rice from the other night's curry and fried it with Turkey, soy sauce and capers. This along with 3 plums and coffee started my day.
Coffee .25
Capers .20
Rice (leftover)
Turkey 1.00
Plums .66
Total 2.11...not good but very filling.

And I was off.

Yesterday I got into a heated discussion with GOPMommy on Huffington post. Read Here

She claims that her father died and she and her siblings lived with her mother in a car and the ONLY food choices were McDonald's or a Candy bar from a gas station; therefore McDonald's is a savior for the poor.

I do support the use of food benefit cards at restaurants because there are seniors who can't fend for themselves and others on food assistance who have no facility to cook. A hot meal, even one that is calorie dense and nutritionally void is better than going hungry.

I do not buy the idea that having no kitchen restricts you to candy or McDonalds.

Today I set off for St. Anthony's to talk to some of the people who know first hand what this experience is like.

I chatted up a few folks as they exited. One thing I can say for certain is that this food program is a lifesaver in a very literal sense for a lot of people living on the margins. The food, the staff, the whole sense of community was praised.

So what do people who have no kitchens eat when they are on food assistance. A few mentioned dried fruit. One said he always keeps nuts around. One woman said she keeps bananas in her pocket and 'those bars, you know the bars.'

Finally I met a man whom we will call Max. He is a Vietnam vet on disability; he has both physical and mental issues. He offered to show me his pantry.

He lived in a very small apartment. An SRO with a twin bed, small closet, and at the foot of the bed housed what looked quite similar to a military foot locker.

He said he used his Snap card once for a Subway sandwich but it gave him indigestion. I asked if he ever used it for McDonalds or other fast food.

"Are you kidding, that stuff will kill you."

He unlocked his metal box and lined up along one side were his medications. In the middle a few memento and on the far right a small food store.

In it was Trader Joe's peanut butter, some cheese, re-wrapped in wax paper ("It molds in the plastic.")along with a bag of apples, Ak Mak Crackers and a few cherry tomatoes in a plastic container, along with a container of instant coffee. He had an electric tea kettle sitting on a shelf. No hot plates are allowed in the rooms.

"Not much left, my benefits come on the 10th but I still have money on the card. When the apples are gone I'll take the walk to Joe's."

He walks to the South of Market location of Trader Joe's twice weekly. It is a decent walk and there is only so much he can carry but he likes their food and they always have a good deal on a bag of fruit.In the mornings he has instant coffee and fruit with some peanut butter and crackers. Then he makes the trip to line up for lunch. He likes to be early because if they run short they serve hot dogs and the meals are a high point of his day.

He tries to keep enough money on hand to eat Chinese lunch at 5.00 a plate a couple times a month when Doctor's appointments interfere with lunch. In the evenings he usually has some cheese and on shopping days has pre-packaged sliced meat. He won't keep it around otherwise because he won't risk food spoiling.

He said several times that he feels better off than most. When the clementine oranges are in season he buys a case with his benefit card and puts them in his pockets to share.

Despite his problems he is organized and neat and capable of budgeting his benefits as long as he stays on his medication. We chatted for a little while but then he started to get tired and to repeat himself. It was time for a nap.

I didn't ask his age and it was hard to tell by looking. His hard live was etched on his face.

Having a kitchen makes a difference. No matter how organized and efficient one is the ability to heat food (for anyone who is not a raw vegan)is a big plus.

I felt very grateful to come home to my kitchen and heat some soup. I had new appreciation for my cup of potato leek with cabbage.
1 cup .48

And on with my day I went. I went to the gym appreciating that I could and then met my dear Arthur who was taking me out for pizza. My friends in San Francisco make a birthday a month long celebration and who am I to say no to pizza.

After a gorgeous glass of wine and several slices of Delfina's incredible pizza I was sated, the remainder was packed into a to go box.

Not content to merely have me full he wanted to stop for pie. Offer me a cupcake and even on this budget I will turn my back, but a piece of pie from Chile Pie and I get very happy. I managed to eat half of my slice of strawberry rhubarb. The filling was tart and fruity and the crusty totally melt in your mouth.

If we are going to allow food benefit cards to be used for food why is the program restricted to fast food chains. Why not open it up so Max can get his Chinese or even a piece of pie for his birthday?

At 2,227 I had no calorie deficit today. It lagged in the nutrition department but I got my B6 and B12 in spades.

Day total (thanks to dinner out) 2.59 giving me .90 to carry into the morrow.


Presto said...

WOW! very inspiring post today! Thank you!

(and GOPmom gives me indigestion)

Presto said...

Wow! very inspiring report today! thank you!

(and GOPmom gives me indigestion)

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks GOPMommy was making the whole story up.

It got more and more dire as she needed to make her point about McDonald's being good.