What's on my mind.

16 May 2007

Eating on $21 a week

...is damn hard to do, as several lawmakers are discovering.

A friend of the family and mother (I'll call her TR) of my former Little Sister (yeah, she finally left the bastard!!!!) used to get about $100 (maybe $150), if I remember correctly, when my LS was still at home and under 18 (That's for 2 people). That's not much to feed two people on. For years the TR went without so her daughter had enough. This screwed up her appetite/eating habits for a long time.

Now she gets $23 a month. Yes, twenty-three dollars.

My friend can't drive so I take her shopping once a month. My Dad drives her to doctor appointments most weeks and will stop at the store if she needs something in between. Before the monthly shopping trip, TR has to subtract out of her cash money she owes anyone, money for emergencies (never much, see previous), money for certain items cheaper at other stores, and money to use her landlord's phone ($5 a month!) All of this comes out of the approximately $250-275 dollars of her disability check she actually gets. The rest is used by her payee (an employee of the State, appointed to take care of her fiances due to TR's illnesses) to pay rent, water, electric, pharmacy bill (medicare copay and OTC meds), and the payee fee. TR very carefully figures how much she has to spend and how much of her pre-tax subtotal needs to be. Then she writes a shopping list with the expected price of everything. I carry a calculator to keep track of the total as she shops. She usually goes to the fish counter last. She budgets a couple of dollars and uses anything left over (budget-actual cost) to by fish and sometimes chicken or beef. All meat is repackaged and frozen (cooked if necessary) into meal sized portions. She focuses on fish because the Drs have told her to eat more protein and fish is the easiest to eat without teeth (that's a whole other story) and on a budget (obviously no scallops or salmon). There is usually some fish fairly cheap and a pound goes a long way.

This month her limit was $78 pretax for everything - food, pet food, off-brand Dawn,...all of it. She was lucky and got to buy about 3lbs of whiting and 1lb of catfish.

I typically walk in the store with no list and no worries as to how much it will cost. I'm only feeding myself (+ 1 dog and 3 cats). I feel bad sometimes when I buy a frozen meal or 2lbs of cherries or pre-cut broccoli because I too lazy to cut it up myself - I waste money on convenience and luxury foods while she pines for cheese puffs. I am rich and, if you are reading this on your own computer, so are you.

BTW food-stamps does not cover non-edible necessities of life (toilet tissue, dish liquid, laundry detergent, shampoo,....) just food and in some places not all food. Some state don't allow prepared meals/food with food stamps (no stopping at the deli for fried chicken on the 4th); some states don't allow meat (no hamburgers for the 4th either, or frying your own chicken) (this may no longer be true anywhere). On the plus side the state doesn't tax its own money and food stamp purchases are tax free (a big plus here, as state and county taxes add up to 8%, 9% in the city).

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