Councilmember Clark left office on April 14, 2015.
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$21 a week isn’t enough



Thanks to everyone who chimed in with support while I participated in the Food Lifeline Food Stamp Challenge last week. Just for the record, I stayed on budget through Friday night — except for a snack in the afternoon, again.

Yes, this was a publicity pitch. I get to go back to living with my regular food budget (although, I am thinking about my purchases more now). Here’s the takeway — $21 a week isn’t enough. Yes, you and I and others can do it for a week, but it’s not the way to build a consistently healthy and sufficient diet. Many of you have asked why a single person receives $21. It’s based on an equation that hasn’t change to reflect the times. When food stamps went nation-wide in 1979 the amount you received was based on your income minus a “standard deduction” that represents the likely amount of rent, utilities, transportation, etc. in a single person’s monthly budget. That standard deduction was frozen in 1996, despite the fact that the monthly expenses have increased. Rent robably takes up a larger share of monthly costs these days. Also, transportation costs go up with fuel cost increases. All this means that the true monthly bills for someone on Food Stamps have probably gone up, but the Food Stamp award amount is still based on a falsely small “standard deduction.”

Next time you’re conversing with your federal representatives, tell them you’d like to see Food Stamp allotments equation modernized to match the true cost of living and the true cost of a healthy diet. Congress will have an opportunity to do this in this year’s reauthorization of the Farm Bill.