Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 7 The Diabetic Project living on a food stamp budget

Gloria said...
I hope you realize that not everyone knows how to dry cranberries, make dumplings and empanadas, and do all these things you can do as an experienced chef.

Most people on food stamps come home from work tired and hungry and can't devote hours of labor to bread baking and pomegranate seeding.
January 6, 2013 10:27 PM

This came in as a comment last night. 


You are entirely right. I want the Senate and Congress to read about this project and see that a chef with a high skill level, knowledge of nutrition, who takes a lot of time to prepare, plan, shop and freeze food is still not meeting his caloric, fiber and nutrient needs. 

I want people to stop saying, Well the poor just need to eat more fruits and vegetables (I would love to, but on this budget I can't). Many people who have never lived this 'know' how others could do it if they weren't so 'lazy'. 

I want them to see the number of hours I have spent and realize it has nothing to do with laziness. 

Ultimately Unions are the answer and we are going to need them from Walmart to the local Dentists office if we ever expect fair pay for labor, but in the meantime rather than cutting the food assistance budget it needs to be increased, especially in places where food is most expensive. The absolute maximum one can get is slightly over 6 dollars per day, and you can't have any assets, or any income, which means that few ever approach that kind of assistance. 

If I give up all empty calories and only buy what is good for me I need 9 to 10 dollars a day to meet my needs. And I've shown I can stretch a dollar tighter than Joan River's face. 

...and onto my day.

I begin my day with 4.34 and a more expensive morning eye opener. I bought the cream yesterday for the meatballs I am going to make today, but won't need it all for the meatballs so I've no choice but to use it. It costs me .14 per day for my pour of cream into coffee and my total will be .24 until the cream is gone. 

I do have to say my coffee is double the pleasure with that touch of cream. The cheaper coffee is more acidic and the cream smooths it out making it taste ...oh so good. 

Coffee w/cream .24
Pomegranate .50
Ground Turkey (5 ounces) .78
Home baked bread .16
Zabar's cheap cheese .15
Onion .10
Total 1.93

I have been spending the bulk of my daily food dollars on dinner and my energy has been flagging during the day. I decided to switch it up and make a big satisfying breakfast and see if I had a better day.

57 grams of carb. I am really pushing it with 60 being the absolute maximum. Onions have as much carbohydrate as apples. We forget how much sugar is in an onion, then with fruit and bread, it all added up. 

I do feel good, not stuffed but really satisfied.

...and then the day went to hell. Not in a bad way. I had a chance to have a good conversation with a social worker in the Snap program. I learned a lot about the frustration of working in the program from her perspective (will write about it in detail) was in touch with Dr. Rhonda Trousdale about some ways to keep educating the community in a grass roots way. 

and then two long but great phone conversations including one from an old friend who has been out of touch, and during that time I managed to sneak in a few pretzels and cheese for lunch.

Pretzels .14
Cheese. 15
Total .29

24 grams of carb

Dinner was way late. I had the ground turkey and needed to turn it into meatballs. I took 11 ounces of turkey 1.65, cream .28, I slice of bread .08. The rest was seasoning. 

I got 30 meatballs out of that making them about 7 cents each. Turkey meatballs can be a bargain. If there were room in the freezer I would stash a few away. These are cheap enough to come in handy if there are unexpected guests. 

For dinner I heated up 8 meatballs in double leftover tomato sauce that I added a carrot to, finely chopped and put it yes on a very small portion of pasta, just 1.5 ounces. 

Sauce .40
Pasta .12
Carrot .12 (.79 a lb)
Meatballs .56
Total 1.20
56 grams of carbohydrate. Again I am pushing towards the maximum in trying to get enough to eat. The increase in the amount of tomato sauce with the addition of the carrot really made a difference in the carb count. 

Even with pushing the carbs my calories were only 1,340. 

My total cost

I do have .92 to carry into tomorrow, so I can work on doing better. 


8B said...

Chef Karl,

Already you pushing the carbs. You got to keep pushing or you are gonna be hungry.

Every time I go to the Doctor we talk about no more rice, and eat more vegetable and I just smile and nod, cause they don't know.

They never did what you doing.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent exposure of what is wrong with the SNAP programs around the country.

Of course I liked your comment about the unions. Me, I just want the federal minimum wage kicked from $7.25 to $14 or $15 per hour. Problem solved.

And SNAP benefits - they should be increased. I recall reading a piece on the woman whose graduate thesis was used as the basis for the SNAP program. Even she said the $200 limit she suggested was never meant to be set in stone.

Anonymous said...

They told me when I signed up for SNAP it is supplemental and all the food I buy isn't supposed to be via SNAP, they are only helping stretch my food dollar.

I also used to volunteer at an organic farm that had well priced fruit and veggies at their farm stand and CSA boxes, the owner said he could take WIC, but to take SNAP was a huge amount of paperwork and hassle and he had crops to tend to.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...


Reality calling. While you can SAY SNAP is supplemental in the real world it is all many have for food, there just aren't any more dollars or pennies to buy food with.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.