Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Food Stamp Challenge

Hunger is real and too many people are go hungry every night. Contrary to popular opinion, even so-called "well to do" towns have people who are struggling to feed their families. And our current economic crisis only makes this situation worse.

The local NBC affiliate did a story on Thursday night called "The Food Stamp Challenge" and I think it's important and worth repeating here.

A number of members of Congress have participated in this challenge, although NOT my own Representative Mark Kirk (R-10th IL) (just 1 of the many reasons I did not vote for him). More need to participate and we need to encourage our elected officials to take part.

I've written about the plight of those receiving food stamps, the Food Stamp Challenge and the importance of donating to food pantries previously. But as we head into the holiday season with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas right around the corner, I encourage you to call your food pantry and see what their greatest need is.

Many food pantries are looking for people to sponsor a Thanksgiving dinner for a local family. The Wheeling Township Food Pantry, where I live, does this. You can provide traditional Thanksgiving foods (canned yams, boxed mashed potatoes, canned corn, canned cranberry jelly or a gift card to the grocery store for a turkey) and a local family that couldn't afford this luxury for their family will have a special day.

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I pick up an item or two extra that I can give to my food pantry. I always buy on sale, so it doesn't become a burden on my budget. Then when I have a full grocery sack, I drop it off at the food pantry. Almost as important as the need for food, personal care items such as toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and diapers cannot be purchased with food stamps and I encourage you to pick up some extra when it's on sale for your food pantry. Of course, donations to food pantries are tax deductible, so keep a list of what you donate and get a receipt when you make a donation.

canned tuna fish
vegetable oil and olive oil
sugar (small size)
tomato products
apple sauce
beef stew
bottled juice
canned fruit - all varieties
canned meat products such as chicken, hash, ham
coffee (small) and tea
dry milk/canned milk
dried beans and dried peas
dry soups including Ramen
canned or packaged gravy
jams, jelly and honey
macaroni and cheese
pancake mix and syrup
potato products and yams
rice (1 lb bags)
salad dressing

Personal Hygiene Items
paper towels
toilet paper (2 or 4 roll pkgs)
laundry and dish washing detergent
diapers - sizes 4, 5, and 6
shampoo and conditioner
bar soap
feminine hygiene products


  1. If you happen to be a hunter, or - god/dess forbid - hit a deer with your car, check and see if you can donate the meat to your local food pantry. Wisconsin has been doing this for a long time, and it makes a world of difference to the people who use the pantry. One year, when my mom's car was hit (and it actually wasn't vice versa) by a 250 pound buck, she donated the animal to the food pantry. The state patrol arranged for it to be hauled to a butcher, who cut and wrapped it, and then took it to the food pantry.

  2. That is so awesome GG! I learn so much cool stuff from you!

    By the way, I'm very glad your mom is okay from her run-in with the buck.

  3. Ronald Reagan turned the country against food stamp recipients in his cheap political ploy for votes and the reputation food stamp recipients acquired for purchasing steak and lobster dinners with them, no matter how ridiculous, stuck. The reality is that people on food stamps do not have a lot of disposable income. A family of 4 can only make about $27,500 a year to qualify for the program. I knew single college students who had trouble living on that in much cheaper times. Seniors can have $3000 in non-exempt assets and others only $2000. There are also many restrictions on what can be purchased with food stamps, no processed foods. This becomes difficult for folks who are also homeless or living in those day to day hotels that now substitute for public housing without kitchens. Also, if you are not working, you may not be eligible for the program which of course is when you'd really need it. Some counties are exempt from this due to greater than average unemployment rates, but just because people in your county have jobs doesn't mean you will have one or can get one. We refuse to feed people, but always have money for the next new weapon system. This country has very messed up priorities.

  4. You are so right Ellen Beth. It is shameful that as a society we let so many people go hungry every night.

    And then of course, there's health care that so many in the GOP believe to be a luxury, including President Bush as you so thoroughly explained on your blog.

    Thanks for the link over on your blog, which I absolutely love by the way. You really hold Kirk's feet to the fire and keep the district informed about what's really going on.


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