Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 19, 2013

the food stamp challenge

Kokomo Urban Outreach director lives on $30 for a week

Jeff Newton stood in aisle eight at Kroger Tuesday, carefully examining the selection of canned beans.

He picked up a 54-cent can of pork and beans — the cheapest he could find — and put it in his cart.

The Kokomo Urban Outreach director had only $30 to feed himself for a full week — the same amount the average person in Howard County who is on food stamps receives.

About 14,400 people in 6,500 homes in Howard County received food stamps in August. On average, each individual receives $4.34 a day or $30.38 a week.

The government assistance is meant to serve only as a supplement, Newton said. But some people can’t afford food when the assistance is gone.

Newton sees an influx of hungry families at his food pantries at the end of the month when the food has run out and their food stamps are gone, he said. He could never imagine how that felt, but he wanted to know.

“I wanted to experience it for myself,” he said.

So Tuesday, he headed to the grocery store to shop on a budget. He showed up at Kroger without any coupons and with no advertisements showing him what was on sale. Many people on food stamps can’t afford to buy the newspaper for its coupons and ads, he explained.

He had also decided he would shop at only one store even if there were better deals at others.

“Most people on food stamps can’t afford to go from store to store,” Newton said.

He wasn’t armed with a grocery list. He was just going to wing it.

Newton wrote in a blog that he tried to plan out his meals before going to the store.

How hard could it be? Newton said he always spends less than $30 when he shops for groceries.

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