KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) - Families relying on food stamps face new challenges next month.
Without congressional action, that's when federal stimulus dollars that boost their amount are set to run out.
24-Hour News 8 went shopping with a Kokomo man Thursday who told us he wanted to see just how far those food stamps can stretch.
The average amount a person living in Howard County received through the program in September was $32.53 a week, or $130.15 per month. According to the Indiana FSSA, the number of recipients for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Howard County in September was 14,455.
Jeff Newton is the Executive Director of Kokomo Urban Outreach, a program that provides food pantries across the city.
He says he wanted to see for himself what a week on food stamps would be like.
“We wanted to take this month to show how difficult it is to live on food stamps, to survive every day with children, going to work, and trying to provide for your family,” said Newton.
He decided to spend $30, to buy 21 meals, at about $1.45 a meal.
“If I was shopping by myself, I would start in the produce section,” explained Newton. “Really, the only thing I could afford was lettuce, at .99 cents a head.”
He said he’d wanted the cauliflower, but that was too much.
Since Newton is diabetic, he skipped the fruits, and went right to the protein.
He found chicken on sale.
“This was four dollars; I’d be able to get five meals out of this,” he said.
He found chicken, turkey for $1.79, then peanut butter for $1.88.
Then, he thought again about vegetables. He says each small can of beans he got, served as three servings.
“Three meals of vegetables, for $.69 cents.”
After finding three cans of beans and a can of mixed greens, his total already was about $10.
“I bought two cans of tuna then, for $.79 cents. That’s four servings,” Newton explained.
Then, it was rice, pasta, eggs, then a quick visit to the dairy section for cottage cheese, a half gallon of milk on sale for $.50 cents, then some cheese.
His total? $24.18.
“I had a little money left over for a back up,” explained Newton.
He said he understands why the pantry is busier with people coming in at the end of the month, when their food stamp money runs out.
“It’s difficult,” he said.
What did he learn?
“You have to be really organized,” he explained. “You have to cook everything at home.”
Newton says he ended up only eating about 950-1,000 calories a day, because he wanted to make sure he had enough for the whole week.
“With calorie intakes being so low, I lost nine pounds in one week,” said Newton.
He said he hopes people take away a few things from his experience.
“There are people that take advantage of the system, but it is a very small minority. I’d encourage people to not judge people, to know that the majority of people on food stamps are working, and they're doing their best to take care of their family,” explained Newton.
Newton explained his experience in a blog here.
He says Kokomo Urban Outreach is now trying to bring in 10,000 pounds of food before the end of the month. They're already on 7,000.
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