WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Can you live on less than $5 per day?

Posted September 21, 2015

— Workers with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina are taking a challenge to live on a food budget of $4.21 per person, per day all this week.

Jennifer Caslin, who works at the food bank, says that's how much families receiving food stamps have to work with in North Carolina.

"It lets somebody walk a mile in somebody else's shoes, maybe get an understanding of the problem of hunger and sometimes how hard it is to make a budget stretch for a whole month," Caslin said.

She expects the challenge to teach her colleagues and friends how tough it can be to make nutritious food choices while on a limited budget.

The participants are chronicling their meals on social media using the hashtag #HungerChallenge.


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  • ascherer Sep 22, 2015

    Am I the only one looking at the picture of what she bought and seeing almost no protein (except peanut butter) but huge amounts of carbs (rice, pasta, and 2 or 3 bags of potatoes)? That is going to do nothing but leave you hungry before the next meal.

  • luvstoQ Sep 21, 2015

    Yes, we mostly always eat for less than $5.00 a day. It's all done with sales, coupons, and good choices. I buy very little 'convenience' foods, or high fat, sugar snack foods. I prefer to cook mostly from scratch, and yes, we eat very healthy most of the time. I'm appalled at the amount of 'junk food' and pre packaged convenience foods that I see people fill half their carts with - notice it mostly when they're ahead of me in check out - then complain about how expensive groceries are. Sure, it takes time to prepare and cook meals, but it is so rewarding. Just the hubby and me now, but we sure don't spend $10 a day for both of us to eat very well.

  • beaglemom121 Sep 21, 2015

    I work at a grocery store. I see aprox. 8-10 customers a day with EBT. Some customers I remember some i do not. Today an EBT customer had 5 lbs of shrimp, a large bag of crab legs, 2 lobster tails, 6-8 t-bone steaks. I know you can buy what you want aside from fresh seafood and sushi. I would not call this living on $5 a day. Some customers have balances of over $200.00-$300.00 on their EBT cards. I don't get it, I probably never will....waiting on my lobster tails :(

  • bernietaft Sep 21, 2015

    How do they have cigarettes and i phones?

  • runsracks2 Sep 21, 2015

    In continuance,
    Common sense is now so uncommon it is akin to having a superpower!- Dave Ramsey
    If you can't do it, you're too lazy.

  • runsracks2 Sep 21, 2015

    I am on the Dave Ramsey plan, I make nearly six figures and eat on that amount or less every day. Takes planning, and you have to cook not buy easy to eat convenience foods, but it isn't that hard. It does, however, require you to do the work our grandparents did by cooking from scratch and carrying a cooler to work, but I do it week in and week out. You have to prioritize properly and put in effort, which most now won't do. Get it together and you'll be amazed how much you waste because " I don't have time/feel like cooking. Lots of days I feed my girl and I, drinks and all,3 meals a day on even less. But, like I said, it requires effort and dropping "but I deserve" from your vocabulary. Put in the work and eat and drive and work and live like no one else, and later you will get to live like no one else! Take responsibility! I make enough to eat every meal out and still pay my bills, I just decided to put my money towards things that help me reach goals!

  • CanIBe4RealAboutThis Sep 21, 2015

    $5/day/per person is absolutely doable. I'm a vegetarian and I do it. And the food and frozen section at DOLLAR TREE ( yes Dollar Tree) will do your budget wonders! It's all about couponing and smart shopping!

    Everyone that receives food stamps obviously does not need them because I was approached by a lady and her children in Food Lion to "buy" some food stamps at $75 for $100. Needless to say in declined and reported her to the store management. They knew her very well because they described her to a tee! So she was obviously the ONE recipient that was receiving "too many" food stamps that she could afford to sell them.

    Then I know there are people that need and rely on food stamps but isn't it a supplement? Some responsibility and accountability should fall on the recipient to ensure they are managing their food stamps to make smart shopping choices.

    I'm in no way trying to be insensitive nor do I lack empathy for those in need but families do it everyday!

  • sporty11 Sep 21, 2015

    Ok I know I will get some backlash from this but oh well - I am tired of hearing how sad it is for people who receive food stamps "EBT". If people would go to a grocery store and just observe and see how well your tax $'s are being used, you may have a different opinion. When you see healthy bodied people come in and purchase that $50 dollar bday cake along with all the other items for that go along with it with the EBT card and then pull that wad of money out for the adult items for that day it really gets to you. Or when you have ones that can't read or speak English have their cart filled with cases of soft drinks (which they turn around and sale) and swipe their card and yes pull out that wad for the adult beverages, yep really makes you want to help so much. Then hear comes the little old lady who can barely walk and by the looks of it needs some help but no she buys the necessities and is grateful for all she has. Things need to change. We are not helping those in need.

  • ThomasG Sep 21, 2015

    Unless you "Walk the Walk " you do not know what these people struggle with every day .
    Food Stamps are a supplement not the entire food budget for a "Food Stamp " family .
    YES someone should help them learn the way to shop efficiently to feed their families - but don't we all do the "EASY" every now and then - frozen pizza, take out , etc. ???
    Eating on the minimal $$ is not the only problem facing many today -
    Can YOU walk to the store , shop and walk home carrying a gallon of milk, a 10 lb. bag of potatoes, bread , fresh fruit , vegetables , a pound of meat (such as ground beef) and a dozen eggs ?? IT would be 18 miles round trip for me - no I could not do it .

  • CastIronEgret Sep 21, 2015

    Yes, we can and have been for years without government assistance. We shop at Aldi and Harris Teeter (VIC specials and double coupons). It can be done, but I miss name brands.