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AP Fact Checks Eating on Food Stamps


How well can a family of four eat on just $68.88 a week? For more than 38 million Americans, it’s more than a matter of conjecture.

With job growth and the economy still only sputtering along, a record number of Americans have turned to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for federal food stamp program.

At the end of last year, roughly 1 in 8 Americans received food stamps, the highest rate ever, according to Lisa Pino, the program’s deputy administrator. During the past two years alone, another nearly 12 million people enrolled in the program.

How much a family gets per month is determined by a number of factors, but typically ranges from less than $100 to more than $500. The national average for a family of four at the end of 2009 was $275.53 a month, or about $68.88 a week.

Despite growing dependence on food stamps, the popular impression is that the meals you can make with them are bleak.

To find out how well you can eat on food stamps, the AP asked two chefs and a magazine food editor to plan out seven days of meals for a family of four using that budget: $68.88.

Food stamp officials note that the program is meant to supplement a household’s food budget, not be its only spending. But to best illustrate what’s possible — or not — on a very tight budget, we asked the participants to work with the food stamp budget only.

The rest here.


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