PHOENIX - Twenty percent of Arizona families are surviving on just $97 of food per week- a number that some families may find impossible to fathom.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assists families and individuals with financial needs with everyday groceries.
An individual on SNAP would receive $29 per week, while a family of four would have $97.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton chose to live on a SNAP budget for a week to show what the program was like and the effect it would have on his daily life.
Stanton visited a local Safeway store at 7th Street and Glendale Avenue Tuesday and he found it difficult to cut out the products he was used to purchasing on a larger grocery budget.
According to a news release from St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, Stanton had to forgo his normal cup of morning coffee due to costs- a wake-up call he wasn’t used to.
He purchased $28.40 worth of apples, bananas, lettuce, chicken, beef, pasta, canned tomatoes, peanut butter, bread and cereal.
Stanton found himself skipping meals after just a few days and not sticking to healthy lifestyle choices
“There are things you would gravitate to that are healthier choices – bread, for example – but under the budget you can’t do it,” he said. “You add skipping meals with making choices based on budget – the bad food is the cheap food – and you are forced into decisions. Eating healthy is so important, especially for young people. Putting together a balanced and healthy diet this way is a big challenge.”
Stanton challenged himself to live on a SNAP diet to shed light on poverty in the state, the struggles of the underemployed and unemployed, and the legislation in Congress that is threatening the already-tight SNAP budget.
“We forget that the money that goes into the SNAP program goes right back into the economy to support grocery stores like Safeway and Fry’s. This isn’t money being put into a bank account and saved, it goes right back into circulation,” said Mayor Stanton regarding the choices Congress has to make regarding budget cuts.
Stanton also said that cutting the SNAP budget would cut the amount of food families could buy and have a negative impact on health and nutrition, especially for children.
He said that it would have been doable for a couple to live on a few-dollar-a-day budget, but kids might fill up on empty starches as they wouldn’t be able to afford the healthy foods their children enjoy.
According to the news release, a blog post by Stanton about his experiences reads:
“I’m pretty thrifty. I’m not a Starbucks guy; I bring my own cup of coffee to the local shop to get a cheap coffee- that kind of thing. So honestly, I thought clipping some coupons and using my shopper’s card would make this a lot easier. My card did help, but coupons don’t do much! They are for name brand items that I can’t afford anyway…A working parent doing this at the end of a long day would have to be really organized…and disciplined. Imagine having the kids along, wanting to put Pop-Tarts and candy, or even their favorite cereal into the cart. That’s a lot of saying, ‘No we can’t.”
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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