“What’s the Right Mixture …

of quality and class-based shame poor people should aim for in their meal planning?” Jon Stewart asked Tuesday night, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

His rant mocked the indignation of entertainers on Fox News, hysterically claiming that food stamps can be used for everything from Las Vegas trips to dog food. They deserve to be mocked. Accurate information is shockingly easy to come by, as to what actually are eligible purchases.

The Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA lists eligible and ineligible items:

Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:

Foods for the household to eat, such as:
breads and cereals;
fruits and vegetables;
meats, fish and poultry; and
dairy products.
Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.

Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:

Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
Any nonfood items, such as:
pet foods
soaps, paper products
household supplies
Vitamins and medicines
Food that will be eaten in the store
Hot foods

SO! Fox News is RIGHT! People can buy seafood with food stamps!

That’s right. But benefits aren’t for a certain number of meals at any cost. It’s a scrip, worth an amount of money. And food stamp benefits are small enough, most households won’t choose pricy foods often. With an average monthly per person benefit of $133, beneficiaries have less than $4.45 per day to feed themselves. Budget constraints necessarily lead to choosing cheaper substitutes most of the time.

Yes, it’s all about trade-offs. If a family receiving food assistance chooses a steak and a birthday cake in their small monthly budget, then Happy Birthday and Hallelujah to them! Let’s not begrudge the small celebration. After all, the rest of the month may be more meager for the choice.

Linking up with Angie at The Novice Gardener for Fiesta Friday.


14 thoughts on ““What’s the Right Mixture …

  1. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #6 | The Novice Gardener

  2. Arl's World

    Good post! People should get their facts straight before spouting off! And I so agree, most families on Food Stamps will not choose pricey foods because they are limited to how much they can spend. But hey, if they want to celebrate on occasion and splurge on their purchase then they probably deserve to do so!! Let us not judge! Happy Fiesta Friday!!

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Thank you. I read an interesting post this morning about how in some cases, facts/evidence make people cling to their wrong beliefs ever more tightly.

      Happy Fiesta Friday to you, too!

  3. The Novice Gardener

    I always thought Fox News is a comedy network. I go there to get my daily laughs, haha… I can’t claim knowledge about how these benefits work, but I am not one to begrudge people from wanting to enjoy life a little. Always enjoy these educational, enlightening little posts of yours. They’re good reminders for clueless individuals like myself. πŸ™‚

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      It’s a fairly new topic for me, also, so I am always learning something new. People need food to be functional, healthy, and productive. Whining about what they eat isn’t helpful. If they want policy debates about it, that’s one thing. But in truth they’d just as soon take the food out of the mouths of hungry people. That kind of meanness isn’t something I can stand.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I know it isn’t in the spirit of the *fiesta*, but it’s also a good way for some people who care about food to also learn about feeding. πŸ™‚

  4. Thread crazy

    Most people who are on food stamps or any type of assistance, are very thankful for what they receive and try to abide by the rules. So if they occasionally splurge, I say go for it. I didn’t hear the particular fox tidbit but I’d say shame on them for taking pleasure at someone else’s expense.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      This is truth: MOST people do abide by the rules. The food pantry where I volunteer has an incredibly small number of individuals who try to take advantage. MOST people abide by the rules.


  5. Ngan R.

    Thank you for the current statistics on SNAP/food stamp benefits. Giving people autonomy to make their food choices is crucial to their independence and meal planning. We should not begrudge them the dignity of making their own choices.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      You’re welcome, and I agree. Some of the same people who complain about too much government interference with their OWN lives seem pretty happy to have more in other people’s lives.

      Thanks for taking a look.


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