My Food Stamp Experience

by Andy Hough on June 11, 2008

Last month I read a post at Living Almost Large titled “Still Hungry with Food Stamps“. It was in response to this CNN article about a woman who found it difficult to feed her and her baby on $280 a month in food stamps. LivingAlmostLarge thought that it shouldn’t be a problem to eat on that amount a month but some of the commenters disagreed with her. Since I’ve been on food stamps myself I wanted to do my own post on the subject and I’ve finally gotten around to it.

I was on food stamps in Texas for three months in 2003. I was employed at the time but not getting many hours and therefore not making much money. I was making just enough money to pay my bills but certainly wasn’t going hungry. Since I worked at a pizza restaurant I had access to free food several times a week. I debated whether to apply for food stamps but decided I should go ahead and take advantage of the program.

It was pretty easy to apply for the food stamps. I just filled out an application and dropped it off at the office. I was called about a week later and after a short interview I was declared eligible for $160 a month in food stamps. I don’t remember the exact details of documentation but I remember being surprised at how easy the process was. I was also surprised at the amount, $160 seemed like a lot to me for one person.

The food stamps were actually in the form of an EBT card which worked like a debit card. The first month I used my entire allotted amount. Some of this was due to buying food for a friend that visited and building up a supply of basic staples. The second month I didn’t come close to using all of my allotted amount. This amount rolled over to the next month resulting in me having much more than $160 to spend on groceries for the month. The third month I got a new job and canceled my food stamps. However, I was still able to use the amount remaining on my EBT card and used it to buy my groceries for the next couple months.

Overall, I would say my experience with food stamps was a positive one. I found a $160 a month to be plenty of money for groceries and I actually bought more expensive foods than I normally would have. I did occasionally get dirty looks when using the card but for the most part no one seemed to care that I was using them.

If I were in the same position again though I wouldn’t apply for food stamps. I was eligible for them so it was legal for me to do so but since I could have easily got by without them I don’t think it was ethical to do so. So far this year I’ve been averaging $100-$150 on food including restaurant food so I’d have to be pretty poor to not be able to afford food without food stamps.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 shoyu June 11, 2008 at 2:04 pm

I looked at the food stamp program in Florida. It’s really strict. You can’t use food stamps to buy alcohol, tobacco, medicine, vitamins, hot food, food eaten in the store or any other nonfood items.

link

2 Livingalmostlarge June 25, 2008 at 10:57 am

Guess it’s not hard to live on $280 then if you lived on $160/month.

3 B. June 30, 2008 at 11:17 am

Hi, I read this article and felt I should throw in my two cents (EBT, FS). I’m currently an unemployed homeless man without kids, and, most importantly, on food stamps in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area (Maryland).
The day I applied for food stamps, I came in almost as soon as the office opened up at about 8:30am, and sat waiting until about 2pm. I could do that because of my situation, but I imagine there are people who wouldn’t be able to; not all homeless are unemployed.
My case manager was rude, jabbing me with insults the entire interview, morbidly obese to the point of physical ailment, and smelled of awful hygiene practices.
I enrolled in a job training program, and was told I would be lucky if I heard anything in less than three months. Something happened to my case manager where my case got shifted over and expedited. After a month, I was given short of the full allotted amount ($150) for two months ($300).
Food stamps, as shoyu pointed out, is a USDA subsidized program only for food; those restrictions apply to all states. It makes it tough when you lack access to a refrigerator or a stove/microwave/oven. As an added bonus, food stamps are tax exempt.
Now for a little math: You have $150 to spread equally among 30 days, what is your daily budget? That’s right; you have $5 a day.
What factors might impact that budget? Recent flooding in the heartland and surges in gas prices (transportation costs). Nothing here costs less than $5.00, except for bottled water, and that s#!t ain’t cheap. You could argue that “why not just drink tap?” Have you seen the area’s water statistics? You can find gasoline, lead, and, of course, there was that WSSC water main break that had restaurants shut down and homes boiling water for three days.
Now, you have $280 to spend on two people (one of them an infant) for 30 days; that’s less than $10 per day. Add in that extra $65 she gets (I just read the CNN piece), and we’re talking $345 — $11.50 per day, assuming she don’t use that $65 a month on other expenses. A single mother, who’s still menstruating (as I’m sure you all know, you lose a lot of nutrients when you bleed), and a growing four month old.
Of course, there’s always the “alternative;” buy food at the dollar store. I’m limited to the (ready to open) canned food, and have you read the ingredients? It’s as if a chemical plant was under pressure to get rid of its waste products and said “Hey! We can just toss in some food and call it a day!” I can deal with it, I can eat it if I have to, but you better believe that’s not going near my kid. Besides, I haven’t seen baby food or formula at the dollar store.
Food banks supply you with three days of food, at most, and comprise primarily of desserts and expired foods (not all expired food is spoiled).
Anyways, at the end of the month (I admit I haven’t been frugal, nor particularly aiming for it) my two-months-worth of food stamps have nearly evaporated. Maybe I could do more with less if I had a kitchen with a refrigerator and an oven/stove/microwave, and I can stretch out my benefits as is, thank God, but there are some people who simply aren’t as fortunate, for whatever reason.
While I agree that it’s possible to live on less (Hell, I can live on a dollar a day), I don’t think it’s right that Living Almost Large knocks on the woman in the article because she either doesn’t or simply can’t, and while I’m happy that Tight Fisted Miser had a pleasant experience, I don’t think it’s indicative of others’, by-and-large. At least not here. I hope this was helpful.

4 skye July 11, 2008 at 4:37 pm

I totally understand why someone who has no access to cooking and refrigeration facilities would find it much more expensive to feed themselves. Your words offered a perspective I had not yet thoroughly considered. Thank you.

I do want to put my two cents in regarding the new mother, however. When my son was born (and until he was 2yo), I feed my family of three on less than $250/mth. I breast fed the baby and cut grocery corners wherever I could w/o sacrificing nutrition. As the baby grew, I easily made homemade baby food by steaming and pureeing fruits and veggies. His rice cereal cost us about $8/mth. Many communities have produce markets where fresh fruits and veggies are sold for much less than they are in the grocery. To this day, we get much of our produce from these markets. Dried beans are sold in just about every grocery and are not only VERY inexpensive, but very nutritious. Pasta is affordable and flexible. Even though this year’s crop has been hurt, rice is still cheap and nutritious. Sales on chicken are something I still look for. Fish can reasonably make it to the frugal table once a week via can or freezer.

My son’s first two years were spent in a neighborhood where food stamps were the norm. I heard the same complaints from the people around me–there was no way to feed their family on the amount of food stamps they got. It would upset me greatly because I KNEW these neighbors were eating more expensive (and often, less nutritious) foods than we were and that was why they were struggling with it. I wouldn’t offer my opinion here if I hadn’t lived it.

5 stacy September 16, 2008 at 10:48 am

I just felt like I had to put in my two cents worth on this one. I had received $389 in food stamps per month for a family of four. I did work but didn’t make enough money for everything. I found that shopping for family packs and breaking them down into 2 meals worked very well. Let’s say you get 8 pork chops, make 2 meals by giving each person one. With potatoes, a veggie and a slice of bread or a roll, that makes a great dinner. Also, any left overs I have, I put in baggies and toss them in the freezer, at the end of the month, I put all that into a big pot and make soup. The soup usually makes about three dinners. Bread and rice are good belly fillers. I really like rice because you can make many different tastes with it.

6 jewelie December 30, 2008 at 10:03 pm

I found the article to be interesting but I’m on food stamps and I don’t find it to be enough for my family. My husband only makes $11.75 and I stay home with our kids because it would cost more to school them than I could make, while were going to school. We receive $379 month in benefits in Florida and that is not enough for two 22yr olds, a 4 yr old and a 7mths old. We even prepare all our meals, and never buy freezer food. I can believe a single person could live on that little. But I couldn’t see myself and the baby living on only $280.

7 Andy Hough December 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Jewelie- I can see how $379 for four people would be difficult. I think $280 for an adult and a baby is very doable though. There are lots of tips in the comments on how to lower your food bill. You might try some and see if they work for you.

8 sandlinmix6 January 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm

You were able to live on 160 a month because you had free food given to you for working in the food industry. We are a family of 5 living in texas with a monthly income of 1600.00. which all goes on bills and what we receive a month on food stamps is only 55 dollars. texas is strict from what i can tell. we should be eligible for way more dont you agree.

9 Andy Hough January 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm

sandlinmix6- I lived in Texas when I received the $160 a month. I think the amount you receive depends on which county you live in. Receiving only $55 a month for a family of 5 is obviously not going to be enough.

10 Sheila January 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm

I live in FL. Been looking for a job everyday for 13 months. I was just denied food stamps because I am on unemployment. My daughter and I will just continue to eat Ramen soup and peanut butter sandwiches I guess. Isn’t that healthy? Thanks FL, NOT. The only people here that can get food stamps are homeless or have a ridiculous amount of children. It’s OK for the rest of us to go hungry. What a crappy place to live.

11 JANINE BATES February 9, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I applied for food stamps when my husband lost his job in new york. It took them six weeks to process my application and now that I got my food stamps for the time applied through the end of January. All of a sudden there is a problem with my February stamps. I just didnt get them and guess what no one answer the phone or calls you back. I am a family of five. We are still in tough shape. God people we need to fix the system. When I applied the worker was the most unfriendly person I ever met. Where do they find these people. It is as if they hate their jobs. People be human.

12 Kristen March 11, 2009 at 11:31 pm

I read the post, and some of the comments, and I just wanted to put in a few words. I myself, am currently waiting for foodstamp benefits, so I can definately in some way understand the way that some of the previous commenters are feeling; however, I wanted to say a few words against all the complaining. #1, yes, I agree, the process in my state, TX has been rediculous, and the caseworkers are normally very rude, and always treat you like you are lying. But I wanted to say to those complaining about the amount of benefits that they recieved. That $160 or $250, or whatever you recieved is more that nothing. Keep in mind that there are families that are struggling, and are not able to receive these benefits. This is an ASSISTANCE program. These programs exist to help you in a time of need, not to support you. It is your job to provide for your family, yourself, your children. Not the governments. I am not saying that there are not people out there that need these services, I am one of them. I am just saying, be greatful for the HELP that you do get. That is what the program is for… to help. If you cannot feed your family on the amount that you are given in the form of assistance, then it is your responsibility to do what you need to do to feed your family. Coupons, sales, like the one person mentioned about the markets. Instead of buying that extra bag of chips, or that box of hot pockets, but things for meals.

Like I said, I do understand that yes, there are problems with the system. But it is irritating when people receive help, something is given to them, and they are ungreatful for what they have been given. Just remember, that amount that you received, is better than nothing.

13 caseworker March 17, 2009 at 12:22 am

1- I’m a caseworker in the FS office in Texas, and have worked there almost 17 years. I’m not one of the “rude” ones, but I get treated rudely on a daily basis by my clients- I didn’t put them in their particular situations, but please believe it’s always “our” fault.

2- I’m also a single mother of 2. 2 TEENAGERS. I feed us on around $250 per month and so I know it’s doable. Many that get FS with babies also get WIC- so in essence, that $260 being received by the mom and her baby is plenty- IF she knows what to do with it. I struggle too, yet am unable to get assistance- so I don’t buy the $4 boxes of cereal, soda, etc. I buy lots of chicken and hamburger meat. Potatoes. Vegetables. My kids don’t and never have “lacked” in food- then, you know there is angelfoodministries that sells pretty good stuff and they take FS as well. There IS a way.

3- Texas isn’t “strict” insomuch as FS are regulated by the Feds, so but for some very minor differences, cases are worked the same nationwide- income limits aren’t determined in local offices, they are determined by the FEDS. Deductions allowed are also determined by the feds.

14 Marki March 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm

What do you do with a worker who is incredibly rude? She has got to be the worst person to deal with in a situation that’s both embarrassing and necessary.

What do we do?

15 Tammy March 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm

I just went and applied for food assistance last Friday. Luckily my caseworker was decent. I was already humiliated asking for assistance, so my caseworker treating me like a human helped a bit.
I couldn’t manage $260 a month in assistance. That breaks down to like $63 or a so a week. Not including the month with 5 weeks. And baby food is NOT cheap!! Sure she can get WIC, but WIC does not cover the cost of baby foods, which a 10 month old would be on right now.
Leave it to the Government to give as little as possible!

16 Mike P April 9, 2009 at 8:18 am

After reading this article and the comments I just wanted to toss me 2 cents in.

I am on disability (which is a WHOLE other issue in and of itself lol) and I receive Food stamp benefits in Massachusetts.

I recently got an increase in my food stamps and I get $172 a month in food stamps. If you split that buy 30 days that is about 5.33 per day for meals.

Split that by 3 meals a day that is 1.77 per meal. Realistically I don’t know how people are expected to live off of that.

I have tried living off of boxed macaroni and cheese (which is like 3 for a dollar at my local super market and surprisingly good lol) as well as living off of Ramen (soup/noodles)which is like 5 dollars for 25 packages and still struggled.

And there have been times where I still came up short and I had to go to a food pantry at the end of the month just to have food to last me until I got my food stampos again.

Let me take that a step further. With the little you get with food stamps it is even more difficult to be able to afford to eat healthier and or to even afford fresh produce and other dairy items. Especially with the rising costs of food. Milk alone is almost 4 dollars a gallon where I live.

I do not know how people with children make it each month.

Don’t get me wrong food stamps help me out. Without them I would surely STARVE but as my Food Stamp worker informed me “Food stamps are not supposed to pay for all of your groceries per month. They are meant to subsidize you grocery costs. The DTA (Department OF Transitional Assistance {“welfare” ion my state} expects people to pay for their groceries also”

I am NOT knocking the food stamp program down. Not by any means. It has helped me. Without them I would surely starve. I just think you have to make creative use of your food stamps.

My best advice is cut coupons and shop according to what your supermarket has in their sales flier that week.

17 Betsy the Former Caseworker April 27, 2009 at 5:31 am

I am currently on disability, but I used to be a food stamp caseworker in Texas, for many years. “Rude” is the favorite term clients have for their caseworkers.

I will explain a few things, but notexplore how food stamps are spent.

Many caseworks work VERY hard for clients, and many of the clients don’t realize the caseworkers don’t make the policy, and care more about the FS recipients than anyone else. The politicians don’t care; they think they’re being generous already.

I worked about a year longer than I should have, dragging myself to work in a chronically understaffed FS office to help people. Maybe the “overweight” stinky DC caseworker had similar problems as I did, still trying to give it his all. that ill caseworker gave him? The caseworker went to work SICK, but the homeless man wasn’t working. I doubt the DC food stamp office had a fully trained person waiting to replace him.

Golly gee, I’ve heard chronically unemployed welfare recipients call caseworkers “lazy” lots of times.

Food stamps go on formulas EVERYWHERE. Things like rent and utility expenses are budgeted against income. Sometimes the caseworker does make a mistake. You can ask for a supervisor or file a formal appeal.

Government has cutoffs. Has to. Even if they do not seem fair.

You may not know your neighbor’s situation in full. Ten years ago, I could give a working mother with 2 children maybe $125 in food stamps if she was $1 under the limit. But if she went $1 over the income limit, she got nothing.

I was too busy doing my daily job to worry about how my clients spent their food stamps. Almost everybody who came in said they didn’t have any food. Yet, if we made a food bank referral. very few would actually go. That’s how we knew most were not really out of food. Who really runs out of food can vary according to office location.

The DC homeless man spent approximately 6 hours in the office and eventually got almost $300 in food stamps. That paid a lot better than 6 hours at minimum wage.

Everything in life has a price, whether it’s waiting in a social service office a few hours for help or working some job for minimum wage.

I worked close to urban homelessness, but most homeless eat at the soup kitchens. I don’t know about DC, but in Texas, there aren’t many social services for the homeless either. But my homeless clients seemed to eat. I would believe a homeless person claiming not to have any food, but most food stamps recipients everywhere live in homes. Most have some food left in their homes, too, they just don’t want what they got.

Again, if they were really hungry and we couldn’t give them FS as quick as they wanted, they’d go to a food bank. Not very many ever went to the food bank.

If you think your worker is rude, talk to a supervisor or call a main office. However, most of the complaints we ever got were unjustified. Most people just wanted their food stamps instantly, and it takes time.

In Texas, almost everybody wants emergency food stamps the same day without waiting. Not every household is eligible for emergency food stamps. The regulations say eligible households will get food stamps in 30 days.

30 days doesn’t always happen either. Why? The programs are woefully underfunded. Clients don’t return adequate info. There are computer problems and staffing problems. It takes nerves of steel to keep working welfare and have people screaming at you for food when many things are beyond your control.

But if you WORK at a job, you almost always get your paycheck timely. Once I didn’t get paid timely because the IRS had seized one of my employer’s accounts. The laws are stricter about paychecks. American employers used to pay late and stiff employees, but laws were passed with penalties.

WORK, folks, is a much more reliable way to get stuff. I don’t see social services getting any easier to obtain in the near future.

18 Betsy the Former Caseworker April 30, 2009 at 3:28 am

More ramblings on posts:

I always found it strange when caseworkers said stuff like the department expects you to pay for part of your food yourself and FS are meant to subsidize food costs. That’s a comment I’d report to a supervisor.

It’s true that FS were meant as a subsidy. Nevertheless,the program has changed such that there are people who have 0 income and use FS as their only means to buy food.

Zero income is usually a temp situation. The homeless or unemployed should eventually get a job or disability.

Welfare parents also get cash assistance. However, now we have whole generations who have grown up on food stamps and school lunches who don’t associate food with work.
There are other things that the caseworker is required by law to tell the applicant and probably never did; eg, the interview is confidential, you have the right to appeal, etc.

Telling people to buy only generic food brands and to use coupons is also inappropriate. Such statements are only appropriate if asked.

FS may be used to buy seeds to grow food and any food not meant to be consumed on the premises. No alcohol, cigs, or paper products. The FS recipient is free to spend their benefit as he or she pleases on any allowable food. That includes cheap or expensive foods.

Anyone who has a problem with a whole generation growing up eating on assistance or buying candy and steaks should contact their politicians. That’s the way the program is.

It’s never true that only the homeless or people with kids get FS. Unemployment comp is income, and if the income is high enough, a person may not also get FS. You are expected to spend job income, worker’s comp, Soc Sec, unemployment comp, etc., to buy food.

19 Joanny Cime Lately July 17, 2009 at 10:27 am

I came upon this article becasue I was looking for what can and cannnot be bought with food stamps in the state of Florida. Myself and my S.O. have both recently lost our jobs,there is no income what so ever coming into our household at the moment. I didn’t think we would be eligible for food stamps being that we don’t have children and we are not a married couple. Much to my suprise we were eligible at the amount of $364.00 per month, which I was also suprised at!

I just wanted to say a few things to a previous response made by “B” the out of work homeless man….

While I agree that it certainly would be very difficult for someone without a home to perpare meals and I am sorry for your stituation but maybe you could sell your computer to help you out??? I mean how exactly does a homeless person have a computer without having a home and electricity to use it in?

Oh how rude of me, maybe your using one at the public library? Maybe you should try using it to, I don’t know LOOK FOR A JOB, instead of posting on a blog site?? I’m just saying I find it hard to believe your situation as you stated it and funny that no one else called you out on it before me, that’s all.

However the facet that you have broken down the amounts into a “daily allowance” is why it seems almost impossible to survive on the amounts that were given. But if you’re smarter than your average bear, you know that it’s best to shop on a weekly bases anyways. So with that being said, try this out instead…. for the lady that was on her own and given $160/month, she would have $40/week, to spend on food. And for the lady and her infant child that was alotted $280/month, that breaks down to $70/per week. And I’m sure, I’d be safe to assume that if she was receiving food stamps, she was also receiving WIC for her baby, so none of the $280 would have to be used for formula and the cash benifits she was given would be used for diapers, wipes or things of that nature. Now if she couldn’t make $70 a week work for just one person, then she has bigger problems than we know about!!! And I only say this because before we received food stamps, $70/week was close to what I budged for 2 and we had plenty.

20 Andy Hough July 17, 2009 at 10:53 am

Thanks for the comment. This topic does inspire a wide range of views.

21 Chelle September 21, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Here’s my experience. My husband lost his job over a year ago and we tried to make it without food stamps for as long as possible. He could only find a job at a pizza place making less than a 1/3 of what he made at his tech job, which isn’t much especially with over $500 in student loans a month and the rest of the bills. Needless to say we had no money for food. My parents would give us about $50 a month for food and we lived off that for over half a year. We finally broke down and decided to apply for food stamps. It took them 2 1/2 months to finally approve us. We received $313 a month for a family of 3. We have a 1 year old son. We found that amount to be quite enough for us. My husband and I don’t usually eat very much as it is so getting an extra $250 a month to buy food was great. We were able to buy food that we hadn’t had in over a year. Shrimp, Steak, Salmon, you name it we got it. We were like two kids in a candy store. We even stocked up on canned, baking, and dried goods for the next few months and still had enough left over for treats. My son is still on formula and he also eats quite a bit of 3rd stage baby food and the cost can add up quick. But we managed to have plenty of money to buy everything we needed and then some. I do think that a mother and baby can live off of $280 a month. But it really depends on how much you eat. Some people eat a little some people eat a lot, most of the people I know eat a lot sorry to say but that’s why America is Obese.

22 Andres November 7, 2009 at 9:21 pm

im 32 years old guy currently unemploye wich is very thankfull with the childrens and familys departament,i just got a EBT card for me and my 7 years old Princess for $367 is so much food ! i dont even know how to eat all that !
thanks God and thanks to the goverment for it !

i would recomend to everyone in need to keep calling and to apply online;IS DEFINITLY THE BEST WAY.

GOD BLESS TO ALL OF YOU AND STAY FIGHTING WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE

23 Emily November 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I completely agree. It’s very frustrating to be on that is not on foodstamps, supporting myself on a minimum wage job, getting more and more taxes taken out, which go towards food stamps. There are some in need of them, I understand-I am not against them. But it is a bit ridiculous when one believes that the government (better yet, people who are working, trying to survive themselves,) should support them and their family. Very very frustrating. Be a bit more appreciative.

24 Emily November 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Wow, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Agreed!

25 Emily November 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Hm. Okay. I have never been on food stamps, let me start by saying that. However, my family has never been wealthy by any means. We cut coupons, we go sale shopping, and we go to the Dollar Store to get food simply because it is cheaper, and will save money. I’m 18 years old and I’ve worked 2 jobs for the past three years while still in high school to save money. I’m now in college, still working. Let me first say that I am not against food stamps…when it comes to situations where the individuals NEED them. Not want them, but NEED them.
I worked in a local grocery store for 3 years, where food stamps were accepted. I understand that situations such as single mothers/fathers, or a disaster occurs in the area, that assistance is surely needed until stability is regained. Yet it seems as though more and more food stamps are being handed out left and right to ones who are not in need. I have watched countless people buy cookies, cakes, soft drinks, and candy with their Food Stamp cards…yet then complain because the “government thinks poverty is a joke” because they aren’t given enough money. This always humors me.

Whats extremely frustrating, is for me, working 2 jobs in high school, watch unemployed people buy countless useless items, the most expensive brand foods, as I watch my paycheck go down the drain, continually being hit with more taxes, which go toward the food stamp program. With the rise of poverty and economical crisis this country is experiencing, life is getting tough. Tough, however, does not mean impossible.

Lastly, I think that the newer Food Stamp card, that can also be used as a debit card is absolutely shameful. What exactly is the point of this? Because from my experience, this has just allowed them free cash to do as they please. Are we now handing out cash to pay their bills too?! Individuals purchase cartons of cigs, and magazines…using their EBT Debit Card…or better yet, using my paycheck, seeing as when using the Debit Card version, items do not have to be food items to be paid for with EBT. It is normal for people to come in and buy a pack of .25 gum, use their EBT Debit Card to pay, and then when given the option for cash back (just like a normal debit card), withdrawel every single dime off of their EBT card.

The money is given as a gift. It is not your right to have it, and honestly, you did not earn the money, and you certainly aren’t entitled to any of it. I hate to downplay the families that are actually in need of food stamps, and who do use them wisely, because I know they exist, and I respect them for that. But honestly people, be appreciative, because I worked two jobs my high school career to support myself…and you…and not with the intent to help you buy expensive cereal, cookies, soft drinks, cigs, and magazines…but instead to try to assist you in survival. And there was a time when people were surviving on a lot less, and were a lot more appreciative of what they had, not expecting nor demanding that someone feed them, and provide them with their idea of an acceptable amount of money every month.

26 Stephanie November 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I live in florida with my boyfriend and our 18 month old daughter. We only receive $160 for the three of us. I find it very diffucult to make it last the full month. I find ourselves running out of money with in two weeks. i shop at the cheapest stores i can, and purchase the cheapest foods i can. Food stamps in florida can only be spent on food and that is it. We do not purchase soft drinks, if we purchase drinks at all it is kool-aid. But some other people have informed me that there is a good chance that we receive this low amount due to not being married. I have heard of them giveing one person $160, and that being plenty but there are 3 of us and $160 is not enough. Our income from jobs is enough to pay bills and that is it.

27 anonymous November 21, 2009 at 12:08 am

If that woman also “had access to free food several times a week”, I’m sure she too would think that amount was more than enough.

28 Andy Hough November 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Anonymous – If you would have read the article you would see that she did have access to free food several times a week. That fact is mentioned in the second sentence of the article.

29 Vicky September 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I was just discontinued from Food stamps becouse i chose to go to school to better my families lives. My husband suffered a heart attack in Jan, It jeft him with a electrical blockage . yes he went back to work full time but we have no health insurance. We went from help for a family of 4 $ 365.00 in food stamps to 199.00 his hrs at work are only 32 a week. I only eat once a day so the rest can eat.. Boy bet the feds dont worry what they’ll eat at nite. By the way im in oklahoma.

30 Char September 10, 2010 at 9:33 am

I have a friend in Florida that is on Food Stamps and other government assistance. She needed phone service and found a company that helped her get discount phone service. Now she feels safer and more in control of her life and safety. Her kids feel safer because they have a phone to call mommy or 911 in case of an emergency. She lives in Florida and the only qualifications were that she is on government assistance and is in a Southern Bell (AT&T) region. I thought I’d pass this on via this website so that others can take advantage of these benefits. The name of the company is EASY Telephone and the toll free number is 888-871-6350. Their website is EasyTelephoneServices.com for those that have access. There’s no deposit, no credit check, and you get call waiting, caller ID, and some free long distance minutes. I hope this helps some of you out there.

31 Shelly November 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm

The government didn’t make you have babies so why are they supposed to pay for ALL your food. People put themselves in these situations. Where’s your plan B? The FEDS may not have to worry about what they eat at night because they don’t start popping out kids and expect the government to pay for their mistakes.

32 rachel January 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm

WIC in michigan….I was a bottle and breastfeeding mother. my baby got 4/5 cans of formula ( not breastfeed babies get 9 cans) 24 oz of infant cereal. 32 jars baby food. PLUS since I was breastfeeding I got milk, cheese, cereal, egg’s, peanutbutter and juice. now that she is over one she gets the food i was getting and i do not. If it were just my baby and I on WIC AND getting $280 in food assistance I KNOW we would be fine. I feed a family of 5 ( 2 kids get wic) on LESS than $300 a month and have been since my husband was laid of in early November it IS a struggle but we are making it. thank goodness for all the free food at family gatherings over Christmas!

33 r29 January 15, 2011 at 5:41 am

@joanny: im alittle confused at how u are coming at everyone when u and your s.o are getting fs with no children. You r telling the homeless guy to use the computer to get a job but u are also unemployed and using the computer to blog. Shouldnt u follow your own advice?

34 fl-fam-4 February 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I am in the process of applying for food stamps for myself my husband and our 2 children. We recently move in with my in-laws in Florida from New Jersey because we could no longer to afford our home-our baby sitter who was about 1/4 of the cost of daycare weekly-in addition with our household and personal bills (credit cards, cell phone, car payments) would still have cost me more than i brought home a month. Most of the time I was the only one with money left from my paycheck for groceries. My husband had a job lined up and i was going to stay home just for a few months to take care of our 4 y/o and 3 m/o -he was told all he had to do was go in and talk to the manager oncer we moved (1000 miles mind you) and then that fell through so we are both unemployed. I saved enough of my disability income to cover MY bills alone for about 4 months and now I have to help pay my husbands personal bills, which are about 3 times the amount of mine, until he gets a job. The day he didnt get the job he was anticipating, we knew we were going to need help. My in-laws have been doing fine for just the two of them on my f-i-l’s meager SSI and pension, but we didnt want to depend on them to pay for our food and other necessities, not to mention baby items. Every location my husband tried to apply to re

35 Amy April 14, 2011 at 8:49 am

Finding ways to cut down expenses that aren’t needed helped my family get through. As a family of 4 & the economy so bad, I found doing a strict budget on paper & sticking to it helped a great deal. We got a magic jack for our phone which is only 20/yr. Also TV is expensive & there are cheaper alternatives & well, getting off the couch is the best alternative. If you’re stuck in a contract, paying the termination fee can save a lot. It may seem like a lot but $60/mo for 5 months usually equals the termination fee. If you can’t come up with the money at once, reduce to a basic package. My internet is only 20/month & I keep that cause I’m currently in school. Sams Club also helps a lot too on certain things. I also clip coupons, buy generic and drink water. Energy light bulbs, hanging my clothes outside to dry & when we got our taxes we went to a buy here pay here car dealership & got a decent car we own with low payments & we now owe nothing. I also unplug items when not in use. Family packs of meat when on sale can be divided & frozen for meals. We got a filter for our tap water & I make pitchers of sun tea for my husband & son & for my daughter I make pitchers of kool-aid. A large can of peanut butter goes a long way too; luckily none of us are allergic! It’s hard for a lot of people right now but getting rid of small things may help. Good Luck!

36 Frugal Dad April 17, 2011 at 9:23 am

It amazes me the abuses that many people do on government assistance. True it does really help some people save money on food, but it also is severely abused.

If you have a computer, TV, phone, electronics and a vehicle, I don’t see why you think it is right to force people at gunpoint (yes gunpoint because if people don’t pay taxes for your food men with guns come to visit them) to pay for your food.

It’s not right. Many people struggle. Do you make home made bread? Do you save money on power and electricity? Do you learn how to live very frugally and make your own homemade laundry detergent?

Learn to live frugally, learn to save money, then you may not need food stamps or SNAP.

37 Vicky May 12, 2011 at 3:59 pm

You bought steak and shrimp with food stamps??? That blows my mind when I made the earlier comment with the husband with electrical blockage in heart. My food stamps dropped to 133 a month when he went to work full time. Now we really do have nights hungry since gas is $4.00 gal. we decide weekly if i will miss school or not eat. Yes I’m currently seeking employment, And will probably have to drop out of school.

38 Hungry on Food Stamps May 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Agree with B! It’s not easy to obtain food stamps in GA.Not easy to obtain them in FL. Not easy anywhere! I get $14 a month, up from $10 in 2 years because I’m on SSDI. I can’t work, but still have to eat! I have monthly utilities and rent to pay. Can anyone who denies that single mom her food stamps live on $14 a MONTH?

I don’t know how Andy had job that paid his bills and living situation and still got $160 in food stamps, unless someone wasn’t playing fair in reporting income. To eat at a pizza place several times a week is fattening and unhealthy to boot. Did Andy want mama to take her infant to eat pizza? Please, Andy, you insult all women with your comments.

39 Andy Hough May 27, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Thanks for your comment. Your situation isn’t really comparable to the woman mentioned in the article. I never said it would be easy for someone to live on $14 a month or that a mom should take her infant to eat pizza.

I just shared the facts of my experience. For me it was a relatively easy and pleasant process and there was no need to lie about my income. I realize others have different experiences but I’m only reporting my own experience.

40 Terry B June 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

Sorry I have to call BS on this one.

I’m in FL as well, and also currently on unemployment. What’s more, I’m on MARYLAND unemployment whish has a much higher cap than FL ($430 as opposed to $275 weekly). With a family of 4, we qualify for foodstamps and medicaid for the kids. We don’t get much, but since I’m being given something I’m not earning, I’m thankful for any little bit, rather than PO’ed because my handout isn’t as big as I’d like.

FL will NOT deny you based on whether ot not you are on unemployment. They WILL deny you if your assets are above limits, etc. So they did not deny you because you are on unemployment.

41 Lena H July 5, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I have to disagree too. I’m currently receiving food stamps in FL and am not homeless nor do I have any kids. Not pregnant either. I am unemployed but am not receiving unemployment. I only pay about $140 in housing costs a month but when you have no income that’s a lot. I also have no assets whatsoever. I’m sorry for your situation and do not necessarily agree with the way they base the decision. Like how if you have a life insurance policy that’s factored in. So I guess you’re supposed to borrow on your life insurance so that your family is completely screwed if something happens to you. It’s ridiculous but it’s how it is.

42 Linsey July 17, 2011 at 11:58 am

Frugal Dad, what you say is true however I would bet that you are not in need of the SNAP Program. I find people who have not yet been humbled by the experience of going through it themselves are rather preachy to others in that situation.

The program is designed to help you through a bad period in your life, not to be a permanent means to buying food. The other point I would like for you and others to consider is this: Do you actually think people who need these programs NEVER WORKED A DAY IN THEIR LIVES? It’s time for Americans who are doing better than those that are not to wake up out of their “I’m better than you, coma” to realize that with things going the way they are and life as it is, IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. Very easily.

Cease looking down your frugal nose at others, stereotyping them and assuming so much. You are closed minded and want others to be just like you. Sorry, no thank you.

43 Frugal FL Mom July 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I know I’m a little late to the party here, but I felt the need to leave my 2 cents. My husband and I live in FL and have 4 kids (9 ,4, 3 & 1). My husband has suffered from mental illness for years, but had a severe “breakdown” almost 2 years ago (and before anyone comments, the baby was the only child NOT planned – big oops, but…). Because his mental status can change from day-to-day with no warning, I have to stay home to help care for him and the 3 little ones who are not in school. He receives SSDI (a whole other challange!) and we receive $380/month in food stamps. This is our only income. We also receive WIC (which is GREAT in FL – it varies by state though). By learning to shop very frugaly I am able to comfortably feed our family of 6. I shop sales. I clip coupons. I make most of our food from scratch. We eat pleanty of veggies & meat. It’s been a learning process, but it IS do-able . For those in need check out angelfoodministries.com (they take FS), couponmom.com and hillbillyhousewife.com. These 3 sites have helped me sooo much. Good luck to all!

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