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When you hear these big numbers batted about about how much we can save, the  numbers are rarely broken down to the per person per day that each PERSON gets from  that "hand out".  Well hear in Butte County the "Food Stamp Entitlement" amounts to eating on $5 a day if one qualifies for this entitlement.  I want to take a minute and blast you with  LITTLE reality about what it is like to LIVE on $5 a day for food.

First the notion of eating out is just that OUT, even a McDonald's dollar menu is just too darn expensive, and is not filling enough.  So you eat in, having no other  choice! But what do you eat, and how well.  First, I am VERY fortunate to own a bread machine, ( i doubt most people collecting food stamps have one!) So buying in LARGE BULK at Smart and Final I am able to get the cost of a loaf of bread down to about $.70 a loaf, so a fresh baked loaf of bread is a staple of our $5 a day diet.  I was able to pickup on sale cans of Tuna for $0.88, so tuna sandwiches will be a cornerstone of our $5 a day diet, and the point here being when one lives on $5 a day for  food, one has VERY little choice of what one eats, one needs to cut coupons and buy what is on sale, ad when you get a great bargain like cans of tuna for $0.88 one stock up, but that means one will be eating a lot of tuna and have very little variety i one's diet. I hope these people have large pantries so they can gain variety by stocking up on stables and storing them for longer periods of time! When I was in San Francisco I went through a period of having to live in an SRO Hotel room as I got back on my feet.  I had a small dorm room fridge, a microwave, and a TV.  I splurged on a Bread Machine and a Crock Pot, and a hot plate, necessities if you ask me! This opened the door for fresh bread daily, a lot on in room cooking, and taking advantace of slow and long cooking of ON SALE roasts.

Milk is another necessary evil.  My Doctor has repeatedly caution me against drinking milk sighting a bunch of health concerns, one of which I have experienced first hand, calcium based kidney stones.  But Milk is cost effective food, and very utilitarian, another cost effective staple is Oatmeal.   On $5 a day, one has a lot of breakfasts with a cornerstone of Oatmeal, because it is cheap bought in bulk, it stays with you and keeps one feeling feeling full for a long time.  Eggs are also a fairly cheap source of protein, bought at a Smart and Final or a Costco.

Dinner for one living on $5 a day is going, out of necessity to consist of a lot of noodles, rice, and beans with cheese.  Dinner also consists usually with Turkey meat as a form of protein.  Turkey and ground turkey is a third of the cost of ground beef, and can be used, in the case of ground turkey in place of ground beef.  The body needs greens and veggies.  What this means is lack of flexibility AGAIN, one is going to have to buy the veggies that are on sale and in season. On $5 a day one has no other choice.  Living in an SRO frozen foods are not an option.  

My point of this is just to show that living on $5 a day is not easy and takes a lot of thought and meal planning to get the right variety.  You will notice that in reality one just can't live on $5 a day, a person that depends on Food Stamps to survive is going to have to also get food from community sources such a Food Pantries and such to maintain proper variety and health standards.  The "Food Stamp Entitlement" is just not realistic to live on.


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1:16 PM PT: Just walked over to Grocery Outlet,(when I moved to Chico I looked for a place that was walking distance to the Store, and Entertainment (Movie Theater) and other resources I needed), they had large 28oz Tomatoes for $0.99, and Italian Stewed tomatoes for $0.59 for 14.5oz. I was hoping for lettuce, but they had none, which meant my other walking distance choice is Trader Joe's, s no lettuce today!

I am really surprised and honored that my article made the RECOMMENDED list. I just tried to be real about the challenges of living on a FIXED and UNFLEXIBLE budget.  Thank You all for reading!

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to l3m0n - A Veteran's Journey of Recovery on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 08:35 AM PST.

Also republished by Hunger in America, Income Inequality Kos, and Personal Storytellers.

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