$29 Per Week for Food
In the United States most people who meet certain low income guidelines are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or the food stamp program). Last year glamorous Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow challenged herself to live on just $29 worth of food for one week. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, $127 is how much the average food stamp benefit receives each month, which works out to roughly $29 per week. Paltrow wrote on her blog, goop.com, that she was doing this challenge to raise awareness for the New York City food bank. She uploaded a photo of everything she purchased for the challenge and set out to not eat anything else for a whole week. This is what her basket looked like from one of her Tweets.
But unfortunately she only made it through 4 days before she gave in and ate some black licorice. I know, it’s shocking right? How could anyone like the taste of black licorice. ? After her challenge ended prematurely, Paltrow said that her “perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days—a challenge that 47 million Americans face every day.”
The Internet Backlash
Although she did not complete her challenge I have to give her props for trying. 🙂 But of course this is the internet. So when she wrote about her food stamp challenge there was no shortage of criticism and adverse response.
As one person aptly observed, “Gwyneth Paltrow bought scallions, onions, a clove of garlic, and fresh parsley. She is doing her poor people shopping wrong.” ?
Below are some other intriguing reactions from random denizens of the Twitterverse. 😀
Yikes! Bring out the carving knife because Gwyneth Paltrow got thoroughly roasted, lol. But internet drama aside, this whole situation has inspired me to do the $29/week food stamp challenge as well. 😀 As a personal finance blogger, I want to find out if I have what it takes to live on $29 a week for food.
Liquid’s $29 Food Stamp Challenge
So for this entire week I have budged myself $29 for food. My challenge will last 7 days, from today, Monday June 6th, to Sunday June 12, inclusive. In preparation for this week I did all of my food shopping yesterday. I went to 2 separate grocery stores. Their names are on the receipts in the picture below. Both are Canadian grocers. Here is what my basket looks like after spending $27.42. (click image to biggify)
That’s basically what $29 buys you in Metro Vancouver, B.C. I placed my Tangerine credit card in the photo as a reference for scale. Below is a breakdown of exactly what I purchased. The green highlighted items are from Lok’s Produce, and the blue highlighted items are from PriceSmart Foods.
Altogether I have nearly 32 pounds of food to eat for the next 7 days. That’s about 4.5 lb per day, which should be more than enough to satiate my hunger. I think the average Canadian eats about 4 lb of food a day. The calories in my food challenge basket add up to 12,600. This averages out to 1800 per day, which is a bit less than the 2000 calories I normally consume, but it should still be adequate in terms of keeping my brain and body functional. 🙂
In the real world there are lots of places to get free food which I’ve blogged about before. But to make this experiment more interesting here are some strict rules I’m going to follow for the duration of this challenge:
- I will only eat from my food basket that I have prepared above.
- Salt and pepper will be my only seasoning. I will not use any other spices, flavoring, or condiments of any kind.
- I will refuse to eat any food (free or otherwise) offered to me by friends, bosses, co-workers, or family members.
- I will not consume free samples of food or drinks at Costco, markets, parties, events, or anywhere else I may be visiting.
- I will drink only water. I will not consume alcohol, juice, soda-pop, or any other drinks.
As with any new challenge, it always helps to plan ahead. In this particular case I am making sure that I have all the important macro nutrients to last me for a week. I also plan to eat the most perishable food items in my basket such as the cabbage and tomatoes first, while the frozen food items can be backloaded to the later parts of this challenge. And since I didn’t buy any cooking oil I will be mostly roasting, poaching, blanching, and broiling. I already have some delicious recipes I plan to make for this week. I will give an update on my progress in a few days. 🙂
Random Useless Fact:
Porn distorts sex for guys, the way romantic comedies distort relationships for girls.