Volunteers put food stamp budget to the test - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Volunteers put food stamp budget to the test, before possible budget cuts

By Michael Slother - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - 40 million Americans rely on food stamps to help put food on the table each month, but budget cuts could take away from the amount that people receive. In Texas there are more than 4 million people who use the program according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

We put a few volunteers to the test to see how they would do on a food stamp budget. We gave an individual and a family of 5 the maximum daily amount that they would receive under no income. The budget was barely enough already, and that's before any possible cuts. Not only did volunteers have to make some sacrifices at the grocery store, but in nutritional value as well.

Jessie Powell can only spend about $6.50 for 3 meals. Sacrifices started in the bread aisle. "Normally I'd get something like this, 100 percent whole wheat and fiber," she said. Instead, Jessie ended up with plain white bread.

After toast and eggs for breakfast and beans and cornbread for lunch, Jessie decides on canned tuna and macaroni and cheese for dinner. "I'm not going to be having any fruits or vegetables. I should be having some milk with it or something but it's not in my budget," she said.

Jessie made it out with less than a dollar to spare.

Meagan Bratton shopped for her family of 5. She had a little more than $25 to spend. She chooses store brand cereal and milk for breakfast. "We're going to go with this one because it's $2.09," Bratton explained.

The deli counter wasn't in the budget either. Meagan was able to give her children a sandwich, apple slices, and crackers for lunch. "Their lunches tomorrow aren't going to have extra things they normally get they will probably see a difference in that," she said.

Meagan said when her kids came home from school they were hungry. For dinner, Meagan feeds her family spaghetti with frozen vegetables. They run out of vegetables; their only serving for the day. "Being able to buy the bare minimum and not so healthy on a daily basis is not going to cut it."

Both volunteers made their budgets, but we asked Vangelia Perryman at the South Plains Food Bank about the possible budget cuts. "You're looking at 80 cents per person per day less," she said.

Meagan said she was able to work with the current budget, but wasn't sure if she could do it with the cuts, everyday. "With the economy going down, they want to make budget cuts. But grocery prices are going up and that food amount is going to go way down. It does get scary thinking about a family of 5 only being able to eat this and now less," she said.

Food stamps are meant to help people while they get back on their feet. Use in Texas increased by more than 20% from November of 2009 to 2010. That's why other resources like the food bank are important to those on the budget. "While we're a community that wants you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and go get a job, we're also a community that cares about our neighbors."

The food bank says to call your local representatives if you don't agree with the budget cut proposals:

Congressman Randy Neugebauer:
611 University Ave.
Suite #220
Lubbock, Texas 79401
Phone: (806) 763-1611
Fax: (806) 767-9168

State Senator Robert Duncan:
1500 Broadway, Suite 902
Lubbock, Texas 79401
(806) 762-1122
(806) 749-2828 FAX
Toll Free (800) 546-9928

State Representative John Frullo:
4601 50th Street, suite 216
Lubbock, TX 79414
(806) 763-2366

State Representative Charles Perry:
4216 102nd Street, Suite 101
Lubbock, TX 79423
(806) 368-8037
Fax: (806) 698-8047

State Representative Jim Landtroop:
P.O. Box 1965
Plainview, TX 79073
(806) 288-0387

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