March 5th, 2009
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports its latest unemployment figures as of January 2009 as 7.6% of the workforce, compared to 7.2% in December of 2008. We all know that jobs are being lost by the hundreds of thousands across the nation. We also know that these statistics account only for those workers who file and are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Which makes the real unemployment figures at least twice as high, now more than 15%. That’s definitely edging into ‘Depression’ territory, and there will be no let-up any time soon.
Whether or not you qualify for unemployment benefits – which aren’t enough to pay the mortgage for most people – if you are out of work you and your family probably qualify for food stamps, or what is now termed by USDA as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]. The Social Security Online website also has good information about eligibility for food stamps, and we most certainly hope that readers of this weblog aren’t too proud to make good use of this program if they find themselves in need. You may hope that another good job will soon be offered, but don’t let your family go hungry in the meantime. DO something!
This blog has examined issues of health and nutrition in trying economic times in several post series. 3 Easy Ways to Eat Cheap outlines best strategies for stretching food dollars without sacrificing nutrition. What’s For Dinner? examines fast-rising food prices and ways to get around paying so much. There are some good resources linked in those posts and their follow-ups, but today I discovered a whole new resource that is dedicated specifically to getting the most from minimal food budgets and food stamp allotments.
The website is called Cook for Good and it breaks things down for all to understand. Food stamps in most instances offer a mere $1.50 or so for a single meal per person in a household. It is difficult to figure out how to feed a family on so little as the price of food goes up every single day at the supermarket, and most government subsidies won’t cover fresh foods, farmer’s market purchases, etc. In this website a host of questions and answers can be found on just how to stretch those fake food dollars to not only keep your family fed, but fed well and without the gross extra calories that have turned the “face of poverty” in this country from rail thin to seriously obese in a short 50 years.
Cook for Good even offers a month’s worth of menus to demonstrate exactly how to feed a family for an average of just $1.25 per meal. Including desserts far less fattening than Twinkies! Going with the “green” menu adds just 53¢ to the cost per meal, but includes fresh and organic foods. Between this example of a month’s worth of menus and the shopping hints, recipes and hints on the website, anyone recently out of work (thus with time to spend), on food stamps and concerned about health and nutrition can plan ahead and feel much better about the whole situation.
Who knows? Perhaps if enough people have to go through figuring out how to eat well on much less money, when the economic situation improves we’ll be generally slimmer, healthier and more involved in eating good food than we ever were before. That would be something very good to come of these trying economic times. So go on over to Cook for Good, check out the links here at Shoestring Budget, and if you know of more resources out there please offer them in the comments.
Eat well, be happy!