Goopy Gwynnie bugs me, but when I saw the picture she posted (or her staff posted) of her SNAP food haul that she purchased for $29, I didn't think anything bad about it. I thought she might be sick of eggs by the end of the week, but not horrible. But she got slammed by everyone, which I found surprising. Wouldn't people want to follow along to see if it worked out? Wouldn't the people that want to improve "the system" want to use this as a case study to point to for change?
I underestimated how many other people she bugs.
Well, as this article points out, Gwyneth's stunt was doomed. SNAP is only supposed to supplement your grocery bill, not cover it, so instead of living off of $4 a day, the government assumes the person will live off of, say, $6 a day. To people who pay $10 for lunch and eat steak every night, that seems ludicrous, but $6 a day isn't impossible to eat off of... if it's just for one person. But a family of four? Not easy. I've budgeted about $30 a day to eat fresh, clean and healthy food for our family. I buy the good stuff, but I make sure to only get what we need.
I count every... single... penny.
One "extravagance" is chicken. I buy Kosher, which is about $15 for a whole chicken. Kosher chickens are raised clean and processed humanely. (I know some people will think that eating a chicken in and of itself is inhumane, but I don't. ) It's not cheap, but that ONE chicken lasts us the entire week. I make sure to portion it out for at least three meals and I try not to waste any leftovers. But I've been in the position where $15 had to go a much longer way. I definitely know the days of feeding my kids Top Ramen by candlelight because that's all we could afford and I couldn't pay my electricity bill.
It's hard to make good choices when you don't HAVE any choices.
Which is what I think the point of Gwyneth's post was. Unfortunately, it came off as Poverty Tourism. Still... it got people asking, "How can a family be expected to eat fresh and healthy on so little?" I always say "Pay now or pay later." meaning pay for the good food now or pay medical costs later, but if you can't pay either, then what? Which got me thinking... we should forget about fixing health care and fix our food system! Instead of food stamps, how about vouchers for Farmer's Markets or CSA boxes? How great would THAT be?
I know people don't always make the best decisions, and we can't nanny people into making better food choices... not even our own husbands who think pizza counts as a vegetable because tomato sauce..Maybe we should all try to live on less and make better choices. Who knows... we might solve our national obesity problem.
She still annoys me, but maybe Gwyneth isn't all that horrible for this particular stunt.
Good for her for trying.