Tuesday, January 8, 2013

SNAP Challenge - Menu and Recipes Day Seven

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Food stamps help millions of Americans feed themselves and their families, but they also help major companies boost their bottom lines. The CEO of Kraft has said he opposes cuts to SNAP benefits. Altruistic? Empathetic? Hardly. Snap purchases make up one-sixth of the company's revenue and an even greater share of its total sales. While food manufacturers give lip service to nutritional awareness, they privately lobby for the addition of sugar rich food and beverages to the list of items that SNAP will pay for. They are not alone. Other major food manufacturers such as Coca-Cola and Mars also benefit from SNAP. So do food retailers like Walmart and Kroger. In the state of Oklahoma alone, Walmart, which controls 22 to 24 percent of food retail nationwide, made $506 million for participation in the SNAP program over the course of two years. The third group of SNAP beneficiaries are the banks, such as J.P. Morgan Chase, who handle fund transfers and the administration of EBT systems throughout the states. A major contradiction of the times in which we live, is the fact that while states are seeing unexpected cost increases, banks are reaping significant windfalls from the economic downturn and increasing SNAP participation.

More Americans than ever before have to rely on SNAP dollars to help make ends meet. The recession has put forty-six million people in the program and that number is expected to climb higher still, at least through 2014. The rapid expansion of the program has made it an easy target for politicians who are proposing drastic cuts over a ten year period of time. Any cuts to this vital program will only hurt millions of American families. Clear thinking is needed now. We need to develop policies that ensure SNAP resources are used to reduce food insecurity and promote healthier diets, not to subsidize the profits of the food industry or banks.

As for Bob and me, we've made it through the challenge. It was an exercise for us, but one we took very seriously. I think we've shown it can be done, but it is important to remember that our situation is unique. I am retired and have no baby on my hip or toddlers pulling at my skirt. I have the gift of time and came to the challenge with years of kitchen experience and a background in logistics and planning. And despite my bravado, I always knew there would be a next meal. There was so much more I wanted to share with you. I wanted to answer questions and pose them as well. How do you build a functioning pantry? Why don't you buy in bulk? How do you shop if there is no car? How do you explain all this to children who want in a land of plenty? Why did you do this? I can answer that last one for you now. I am enraged by the proposed cuts to SNAP program. I was raised by parents and surrounded by neighbors who taught me that there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who see the world as it is, and those who see the world as it should be. The 5,000 of you who visit here each day have given me a platform and allowed me to share my vision of the world as it should be. I thank you for that. Please do what you can to highlight the problem of hunger in America. Allocations for SNAP are included in the U.S. Farm Bill, a five-year agricultural policy omnibus bill that's up for renewal and revision this year. This is the bill that should be watched. Hunger in our country is a problem that has an all too human face. Let's not make their problems worse.

                                         Menu for SNAP Challenge Day Seven


                                                         Orange Juice
                                     Pancakes with Maple-Flavored Syrup


                                                     Leftover Chicken
                                                  Leftover Rice Cakes


                               Small Chopped Salads with Boiled Dressing
                                      Stovetop Smoked Sausage Casserole
                                                        Corn Muffns

                                                    Stovetop Smoked Sausage Casserole

3 green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch dice
1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large carrot, cut in 1/2-inch dice
12 to 16-ounces smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup milk
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley or basil

1) Combine peppers, onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, sausage, oil and spices in a large skillet with a lid. Mix well.
2) Cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are cooked through. Stir in milk. Cover and cook another 2 minutes. Spoon into 4 soup bowls. Garnish with parsley and serve. Yield: 4 servings.

One Year Ago Today: Chocolate Brownie Clusters

Two Years Ago Today: Pink Grapefruit Salad Dressing

Three Years Ago Today: Torpedo Rolls


Coleens Recipes said...

Congratulations on a challenge well met!! I wonder how people handle holiday meals with such a small snap budget. I sure have learned a lot.

Allie and Pattie said...

Thank you Mary. You've done a great deal of good with this series

Kim said...

I'm moved by all your posts about SNAPS, I told you already. Love what you wrote today, it got me to thinking, a lot. You did well by proposing this challenge and you exposed a real problem! Thank you for that, Mary!

Unknown said...

Hey. I followed your SNAP challenge and have a couple of comments...

The use of on-hand condiments really changes the calculations. Most people with SNAP or TANF benefits would never be able to buy some of the condiments you used such as honey or specialty mustards (dijon, eg) and oils (sesame). I wasn't sure if you purchased parmesan cheese, but if you did, the only option would be a store brand, green jar version and never fresh.

Yes, I have been on SNAP in the past. After a significant period on unemployment, I decided to go ahead and sign up even though I looked at it as defeat. But when I did, I had nothing in my larder to work with and spending $3-5 for a small jar of seasoning was something I would never have done. I lived on store brands and tried to keep food costs to ~$1-2 per meal. The only cheese I could afford with snap was store brand block cheese and wrapped American, and only when on sale.

I applaud bringing the issue to the eyes of your readers just as I am glad mayors such as Cory Booker have taken similar challenges, but people need to understand that most people only get to SNAP when they are at the ends of their other options and the time spent is much longer than a week. Everyone can cut back for a week with added supplies available on the side, but try for a month or six without.

BTW - the coffee at your meeting would have been perfectly acceptable just as eating a pastry or accepting an invite to a meal would be a welcome help.

Again, thanks for helping shed some light on the issue.

Judy@Savoring Today said...

This has been a good series, giving us all something to think about and consider how we might trim budgets and see the needs of others around us. Personally, I'd rather see neighbor helping neighbor instead of reliance on government, but like the idea of a safety net, which SNAP provides. Thanks for all your efforts here -- well done.

Sheherazahde said...

Thank you for taking the challenge and sharing your great recipes with us.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Winston, you made me smile. There is a photo of the cheese I used in the day one post. As a matter of fact all the food I used is pictured there, save for the condiments. Their use was allowed by the folks who structured the challenge, not by me. As to the coffee and Danish - there are btw not allowed by the rules of the challenge. In the "real" world, I never turn down a free meal :-). As a matter of fact, I'd probably have a second cup of coffee. Have a great day. I hope you'll visit with us often. Blessings...Mary

Big Dude said...

I love the creations you're coming up with for this Mary. You are showing that good meals can be eaten on a budget. I would have probably have made a big pot each of pinto beans and vegetable soup the first day then had toast and eggs for every breakfast, and alternated between the beans and soup for lunch and supper with occasional corn bread :-).

Lois said...

It has been fascinating to follow this series. I know how hard it is to feed a family on limited grocery budget, and have always been a from-scratch cook, at least I was in those days! Now I buy my tortillas, most of the time. So many challenges out there for people.

Cuisine de Provence said...

Bravo Mary!

Ginny Hartzler said...

I am sorry to see this challenge come to an end. I have printed more recipes from here on this challenge than I usually do in several months!

Karen said...

Very thought provoking series, thank you. I want to add that companies like Walmart benefit even more from government assistance program because they enable them to hire their workers at substandard wages. A large number of Walmart's employees are snap-eligible. These underpaid employees then use their benefits to purchase groceries at Walmart. So it's a very big subsidy that the taxpayers are providing to the Walmart corporation.

Amy said...

I always love your simple and delicous recipes!
:) Happy New Year to you. Wish you and your family a blessed and prosperous 2013! I look forward to reading your posts.

Melinda said...

Thanks for taking the time to do the research and explanations on this program.
Your recipes looked delish too.

Are you glad the challenge is over?

M :)

What's next said...

Thank you for doing a great job with the challange and presenting the information we never hear about the program and hungry.

Sparkly Jules said...

My husband and I will be doing this in real life. He was laid off in June and has not found a job. I freelance, I never know when I'm getting paid. We applied for food stamps last week. We hope we're approved.

Food pantries are helpful, also.

Thanks for doing this, Mary. There are too many Americans who rely on these safety nets. But thank g*d they are here.


Terry C said...

Mary, Hooray for you! I'm glad you have used this platform to highlight hunger in America. In my town (Vancouver, Washington), half of the homeless population consists of children under the age of 5. I met someone tonight who donates half of the produce from her garden to the food pantry. That is one way to help, if one has a garden. Thank you for such thoughtful posts and for raising awareness and challenging us.

Sheherazahde said...

I made this recipe tonight...sort of. I didn't have the peppers so I used celery, and I was afraid I would burn everything trying to make a casserole on the stove top so I added a qt of turkey stock and made a soup of it. Still, it wasn't like my usual soups so thanks for the recipe.

BTW it is delicious!

My Little Space said...

What a task! I believed in you Mary. Congratulations.((hugs))
Best wishes, Kristy

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