Thursday, April 26, 2007

Shop Til you Drop (from hunger)

Just how poor is the working poor?

In Oregon, a family with a modest income (that is, not enough to pay the bills) is entitled to food stamps to buy food.

On the average, the family receives $21.00 per week for groceries. About the cost of a lunch of burger, fries, drink, taxes and tip at a not-very-fancy pub in Midtown Manhattan.

In an effort to understand this, the Governor of Oregon spent a week trying to live on a grocery budget of twenty-one dollars. It was, after all, Hunger Awareness Week in Oregon.

Can you imagine this?

Can you imagine that we expect a family of any size (even a family of one) to live on $21.00 worth of groceries for a week?

Well, this is your America. This is the conservative America we opted for with two terms of Reagan, one of Bush, two of Clinton and two of another Bush. Almost three decades of conservatism has led us to this: families living on $21.00 worth of food.

I am ashamed.

This is disgusting!
Ore. gov. starts week on food stamps
By JULIA SILVERMAN, Associated Press Writer
Wed Apr 25, 3:27 AM ET

If Gov. Ted Kulongoski seems a little sluggish this week, he's got an excuse: he couldn't afford coffee.

In fact, the Democratic governor couldn't afford much of anything during a trip to a Salem-area grocery store on Tuesday, where he had exactly $21 to buy a week's worth of food — the same amount that the state's average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries.

Kulongoski is taking the weeklong challenge to raise awareness about the difficulty of feeding a family on a food stamp budget.

Accompanied by reporters and food stamp recipient Christina Sigman-Davenport, Kulongoski headed straight for a display of organic bananas, only to have Sigman-Davenport steer him toward the cheaper non-organic variety.

The governor pined wistfully for canned Progresso soups, but at $1.53 apiece, they would have blown the budget. He settled instead for three packages of Cup O'Noodles for 33 cents apiece. Kulongoski also gave up his usual Adams natural, no-stir peanut butter for a generic store brand, but drew the line at saving money by buying peanut butter and jelly in the same jar.

"I don't much like the looks of that," said Kulongoski, 66, staring at the concoction.

Other shoppers in the store were bemused by Kulongoski's quest.

"Obviously, he doesn't shop often," Barb Sours of Salem said, as Kulongoski bounced around the aisles in search of granola. "He's all over the place."

Kulongoski did pause to chat with shoppers John and Bonnie White of Salem, telling them all about his $21 limit.

"Don't spend it all in one place," John White warned.

Along the way, Sigman-Davenport, a mother of three who works for the state Department of Human Services and went on food stamps in the fall after her husband lost his job, dispensed tips for shopping on a budget. Scan the highest and lowest shelves, she told the governor. Look for off-brand products, clip coupons religiously, get used to filling, low-cost staples like macaroni and cheese and beans, and, when possible, buy in bulk.

At the check-out counter, Kulongoski's purchases totaled $21.97, forcing him to give back one of the Cup O'Noodles and two bananas, for a final cost of $20.97 for 19 items.

After the hourlong shopping trip, Kulongoski said he was mindful that his week on food stamps will be finite and that thousands of others aren't so lucky.

"I don't care what they call it, if this is what it takes to get the word out," Kulongoski said, in response to questions about whether the food stamp challenge was no more than a publicity stunt. "This is an issue every citizen in this state should be aware of."
Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Gov on taking the first long over due step towards calling awareness to the Hungry in America. I just hope the awareness can lead to action.