April 19, 2015

"By glamorizing a limited budget in a piously frugal 'look what you can do with it' sort of way, it suggests that people who aren’t eating as beautifully are doing it wrong and deserving of additional scorn."

"This isn’t an exercise in actually eating what SNAP recipients can eat, and it creates false impressions of what this lived reality actually is, making it easier for people to make false comparisons to their own situation."

A former nutritionist named Stephanie Jolly told Darlena Cunha, a home-based parent and former television producer. Cunha has an article in WaPo titled "How Gwyneth Paltrow hurt America’s poor and hungry/Her uber-privileged food stamp challenge obscures the many obstacles low income people face."

We were just talking about Paltrow's food-stamp challenge here. There are lots of good comments in there. And Dan from Madison has his own blog post, here:
I decided to go to my local grocery store to see if I could get enough food to live on for one week for $29.... Vegetables, frozen, are a great deal.... The chicken thighs were an easy choice for protein.... The mayo cost us $1.59 - but that will help stretch all of that tuna that only cost us .625 per can (there was a deal at 4 for $2.50).  I would plan on tuna fish sandwiches or that PB and J for lunches at my job, and would bring an apple or banana along.  The bread was only .89 for the loaf.  For breakfast I could imagine a fried egg atop toast with a little yogurt and/or fruit on the side.  The cans of chicken noodle soup were an astounding .49 each.  For dinners, I imagined rice (.99 for the bag - and that is a lot of rice), and chicken with vegetables.... So the total for all of this food above was $23.99...
To that, Dan added a "flask of Shellback Spiced rum... $4.19." He declares: "I think I pretty conclusively proved that one person could easily eat for $29 for a week and still have money left over for bad habits like drinking."

Does that count as the "scorn" Stephanie Jolly was talking about? And, more importantly, will Dan be "eating beautifully"?

42 comments:

pm317 said...

I think the objectionable thing about this whole exercise is that the rich and 'smart' celebrity who has made it in the world trying to show the lesser mortals how it is done -- the lesser mortals who can't think for themselves, who have too many bad habits, who are known to make bad choices which is why they are where they are and so on, on. If it is not the government telling you how it should be done, it is the rich liberal celebrity.

richlb said...

The biggest problem with all of these "challenges" is that they are testing something that isn't intended to be true. It's called the SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Program. It wasn't intended to be the only source of funds for someone to eat from.

rhhardin said...

A 50 pound bag of brown rice lasts about a half year, if you and a dog share equal portions every lunch.

Rice is a dollar a pound.

Tank said...

Drinking is a bad habit?

Michael K said...

Leftism is all about moral preening and self image. Who cares about losers ? Except, of course, to make statements four own virtue.

EDH said...

More lying with numbers. That the average benefit is low is good news, unless you believe more poverty is a better thing.

The low average SNAP benefit means a greater proportion of recipient households are earning more of their own money.

The reason many of these households on the higher end of the poverty scale (100-130%) even bother to seek a low SUPPLEMENTAL nutrition benefit is that participation in the SNAP program is itself the gateway means test for a number of OTHER income support welfare programs.

The benefit formula assumes that families will spend 30 percent of their net income for food; SNAP makes up the difference between that 30 percent contribution and the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan, a low-cost but nutritionally adequate diet established by the U.S. Agriculture Department.

A family with no net income receives the maximum benefit amount, which equals the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan for a household of its size (see table). For example, a family of three with $600 in net monthly income receives the maximum benefit ($511) minus 30 percent of its net income (30 percent of $600 is $180), or $331.

A = Household Size
B = Maximum Monthly Benefit FY 2015
C = Average Monthly benefit FY 2015

A....B....C
1 $194 $144
2 $357 $257
3 $511 $378
4 $649 $464
5 $771 $546

Cynicus said...

20 lb bag of rice was $8 at the grocery store this week.

H said...

One thing that always gets overlooked: the "S" in SNAP stands for "Supplemental". The payments are intended to supplement what the person (household) can afford to pay for food. No one is supposed to be able to survive on the average SNAP payment. The maximum SNAP payment for a one person household is $194 per month, or about $46 a week, not $29.

wildswan said...

Pick n Save last week:
10 lbs. potatoes 1.99
5 lbs apples 2.99
2 lbs bananas 1.18
12 Eggs 1.00
1 lb. bacon 4.49
1/2 gallon milk 2.49
1.5 lb. hamburger 4.89
1 lb. carrots 1.00
1 onion .59
1/2 lb butter 2.50
1 can frozen juice 1.50


Total 24.62

Gluten-free with money toward beer

SGT Ted said...

Actually, the unintended point of Paltrow's exercise shows that the claims that people cannot eat well on the money the rest of us give them and that "children go to bed hungry" meme is bullshit for the most part. Acknowledging that would break the rice bowl of a lot of the poverty activists who pimp "hunger" to make their bread and butter. That's why they are so upset.

I was on food stamps for 3 months as a single man back when I was young and stupid. I lived large, diet wise.

The criticism of Paltrow is simply an attempt to shame the critic and avoid addressing the critique: that many recipients of government food largess suck at making sound food choices. The "food desert" meme is another species of that bullshit.

Sebastian said...

"The criticism of Paltrow is simply an attempt to shame the critic and avoid addressing the critique: that many recipients of government food largess suck at making sound food choices. The "food desert" meme is another species of that bullshit."

Indeed. It's all part of lefty symbolic politics. Shaming the critic serves several purposes.

1. How dare you criticize the poor and underprivileged! They are paragons of virtue.

2. Shut up and pay up! It's your duty as a citizen to provide for the poor. Solidarity forever.

3. What -- you think you know better how other people should spend your money? Check your privilege.

wildswan said...

The point I'm trying to make is that you can buy a lot if you buy regular food and it won't make you fat because you stay with fairly small portions.

Boring, yes.

Hungry, no.

MayBee said...

I didn't think Paltrow was saying "Look what you can do with it". I thought she was saying, "How am I supposed to live on this?"

And her problem was that she expects people to eat beautifully, so of course SNAP is bad because it doesn't foster the foodie lifestyle for the poor.

Michael The Magnificent said...

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday making food packets to feed the hungry in Tanzania.

Each packet contained dehydrated vegetables, fortified soy meal, rice, vitamin and mineral blend. Just add water and heat. Each packet makes six servings, and the cost is $1.50, or $0.25 per serving.

Figuring three meals per day, 30 days in a month, and I can feed one person for an entire month for $22.50.

This is what we should be handing out to those too poor to buy food - pre-made, nutritious meal packets.

MaxedOutMama said...

pm317 - I think the objectionable thing about the exercise was that a person who knows nothing about the real problems of the poor presumed to pontificate, and did so in such a way that anyone who actually ever has lived on a very tight budget immediately perceived the bullshit.

This is treating those who get SNAP benefits like some sort of a reality show - for which they did not volunteer and are not paid.

One should approach other people's problems with an element of humility - that is a prerequisite for doing it humanely.

Cas said...

Michael, the other advantage as far as I'm concerned about the wonderful life-preserving meal you were creating, is that while it will allow a person to survive, it has no lasting variety or taste value. Very few people would choose to continue to live on that same food, over any period of time...which is EXACTLY what these programs should be aiming for!
"Give a man a fish (or a pre-made nutritious meal packet), and he will eat for a day,
Teach a man to fish, and he will feed HIMSELF for life"

Achilles said...

How much food can $29 buy you in Afghanistan?

First world problems are not an excuse to take my money and give it to someone else. Not to mention most of the money spent in the food stamp program goes to people making 6 figures or more. Actual recipients are last in line. If you want to provide food to poor people donate to a church.

MaxedOutMama said...

But all those who keep harping on the idea that it's not meant to pay for an entire week's food are missing the obvious - the maximum benefit MORE than pays for a solid diet for one person in a week, including fresh dairy, staples, and animal protein.

You probably will end up hungry if you want to eat a lot of prepared foods and meals. But the "no one should have to cook in America" meme doesn't wash with all those families who do cook.

lemondog said...

1 16 oz bag of lentils/split pea/kidney beans – $.99/1.29/1.99
1 lb bag organic fresh carrots to add $0.99
1 bunch your choice of greens to add – $1.49
1-2 table spoons olive oil – $0.25?
1 32 oz bag of long-grain enriched rice $1.59
Condiments salt, pepper, basil – $$ insignificant

Will last for several meals

Bulk would reduce costs further.

Horrors that one has to cook.

James said...

I spent $165.19 for food last month, which comes to $5.32 a day. I also run and bike so I am consuming about 2800 calories a day. The obvious key is to avoid prepared and processed foods.

pm317 said...

One should approach other people's problems with an element of humility - that is a prerequisite for doing it humanely.

Agree. You said it better than I did.

MaxedOutMama said...

James - and avoiding processed/prepared foods makes you much healthier.

Ann - as to the linked article, I cannot for the life of me figure out how SNAP benefits relate to the problem of emergency car repairs.

Basically, this is just another way to dodge the fundamental issue - SNAP benefits generally do cover reasonable food needs for recipients. If people who get these benefits are going to bed hungry, it's because they either lack life skills, or they lack the means to use life skills.

But raising food benefit allotments will not help the car repair/no power at home/homeless/clueless at living problems.

If those are the problem we need to solve, then we need to look at how to solve these problems.

Call me rotten and no-good, but I suspect that not knowing how to cook/shop and not being able to set money aside for a tire repair or purchase are related problems, so maybe we SHOULD be making an effort to solve those problems.

Maybe, in the end, Paltrow is the poor person's best friend, because she unintentionally introduced a note of reality into the discussion.

Birches said...

If people who get these benefits are going to bed hungry, it's because they either lack life skills, or they lack the means to use life skills.

Yes.

I'm trying to figure out why it's insulting to show someone a better way to spend their money? When we were first married, I bought all our meat and chicken in convenient one pound packs. My spouse pointed out that we could save a lot of money by buying in bulk, and separating and freezing it ourselves. Did I scream privilege at him? No, it was a great idea.

FedkaTheConvict said...

Dan from Madison can easily make his own mayo; all he needs is an egg yolk, a teaspoon or so of lemon or lime juice, and some oil or vegetable oil. One egg yolk yields approx. one cup of mayo and there are instructions available: How To Make Mayonnaise

jimbino said...

The website Numbeo gives you the breakdown in cost of living for cities around the world.

Here in Rio de Janeiro:

Milk (regular), (1 gallon) 3.77 $
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) 1.46 $
Rice (white), (1 lb) 0.52 $
Eggs (12) 1.49 $
Local Cheese (1 lb) 2.88 $
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1 lb) 1.78 $
Apples (1 lb) 0.84 $
Oranges (1 lb) 0.61 $
Tomato (1 lb) 0.70 $
Potato (1 lb) 0.59 $
Lettuce (1 head) 0.82 $
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 0.83 $
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 8.22 $
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 1.54 $
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 2.58 $
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) 2.01 $
Transportation
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 1.12 $
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 49.32 $
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 1.58 $
Taxi 1 mile (Normal Tariff) 1.08 $
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 8.36 $
Gasoline (1 gallon) 4.07 $

The standouts are wine and gasoline, both FAR more expensive than in the States. Many of us have access to fruits growing all around. Everybody has lime trees, and my place has trees that bear 22 different fruits, from papaya to jackfruit, persimmon and banana. Alligator pear grows wild for the taking.

rhhardin said...

If you have catsup and mayonnaise you can make Russian dressing.

Laslo Spatula said...

For that money you could also buy approximately 0.15 ounce of Beluga Caviar.

It depends on your priorities.

I am Laslo.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"One should approach other people's problems with an element of humility - that is a prerequisite for doing it humanely."

Exactly. And learning to do that requires being face-to-face with their want. Smelling the cat piss and seeing the consequences of bad luck or poor choices. Odds are that any charity emanating from a gated mansion is just moral preening.

Vince said...

Don't know if he'll be "eating beautifully", but by my lights he'll be eating tastily!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Milk is also more expensive in Rio. (We're usually under 2$) And bottled water is close to free here, if you buy it on sale in 24-packs.

Cheese is cheaper there. The veggies are either cheaper or more expensive, depending on the season here.

I have a friend who's been living in Cameroon. She took a picture of what $10 will buy at the market there... it was actually LESS than what it would buy here.

Rocco said...

Birches said:
"I'm trying to figure out why it's insulting to show someone a better way to spend their money? ... My spouse pointed out that we could save a lot of money by buying in bulk, and separating and freezing it ourselves. Did I scream privilege at him? No, it was a great idea."

You've been brainwashed by the patriarchy, Birches. That's a clear case of 'mansplaining'.

furious_a said...

$6.00 Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready Pepperoni makes four two-slice main,courses, $1.50 each.
$0.79/ea cucumbers sliced, lightly salted with ranch for an appetizer.

Bachelor-chow treating oneself.

Char Char Binks said...

Mansplaining is bad, but Paltrownizing is ok. She wasn't trying to put anyone down, she just wants to show poor folks how to live beautifully by buying limes and cilantro instead of food.

Anonymous said...

The point of what Paltrow has down is a learning experience for all of us.

It says, look how foolish and stupid money and fame make you. Don't emulate me.

buwaya puti said...

Poor mans secret weapon for cheap eating - pressure cooker.
It makes beans, lentils, pea soup cook very fast indeed. Stew anything in 30 min. Rice in under 10 min.

buwaya puti said...

Pressure cooker recipes (and cooking practice) for basic beans & rice plus other standards should be in every middle school curriculum.
Nobody needs to go hungry.
If we are going to have dumbed down education, I think it should be useful dumbed down education.

jimbino said...

Buwaya puti:

Pressure cooker recipes (and cooking practice) for basic beans & rice plus other standards should be in every middle school curriculum.

That's what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said.

buwaya puti said...

Among the other damage the Tsarnaev brothers did, this slam on the reputation of a brilliant technology (pressure cookers) may ultimately cause the greatest damage. Consider the marginal effect, across millions of people, of all the unnecessary malnutrition, stress, overwork and anxiety, including second and third order effects. They probably have killed and crippled hundreds of people beyond those immediate victims of their bombs.

Birches said...

And learning to do that requires being face-to-face with their want. Smelling the cat piss and seeing the consequences of bad luck or poor choices.

We've been to the same houses...

RecChief said...

once again, I must point out (as I have several times in the past, on this blog and others) that I don't mind my tax dollars helping people who are having a rough go. However, any time someone is receiving public assistance, they should also be required to attend money management classes as well as impulse control counseling.

Paul Ciotti said...

I think Paltrow was planning to make guacamole--thus the avocado, green onions, tomato, limes and cilantro.

Fen said...

I didn't think Paltrow was saying "Look what you can do with it". I thought she was saying, "How am I supposed to live on this?"

Not how I heard it. What I heard was "Look at me! I'm not a bitch. I *care* about poor people!"

This is about Paltrow's PR, not the poor. They are just a prop.