Overheard on CNN.com: $30 a week for food is plenty
CNN.com readers weigh in on whether they could get by on $30 a week for food.
September 21st, 2011
04:48 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: $30 a week for food is plenty

Comment of the day:

“I feed a family of four for about $100 a week. $30 seems like a lot of money for one person for a week. Yes, I could definitely do that!” - shandaar

Could you eat on $30 a week?

As part of a special report on hunger in America, CNN producer Sheila Steffen challenged herself to a grocery budget of 30 dollars a week—the average food stamp allotment for more than 40 million Americans. She wrote a blog about her shopping experience and asked readers: could you eat on $30 a week?

The answer from commenters was a resounding yes—and plenty of suggestions on how to do it, too.

Hungry Jack said, “I am in grad school and can eat pretty well on $30 week, and I don't mean Ramen Noodles. It is just a matter of planning, using coupons, and buying things on sale. Anyone who has even rudimentary cooking and math skills can get by just fine.”

BrendaS said, “In my household, there are three adults and two teenagers. We spend, on average about $250 a month and we don't get food stamps. All the adults work, but cost of living for utilities, gas to and from work and basic living needs, leaves us very little to buy quality, nutritious foods that are healthy for my family. We do it all the time, but it's not what everyone likes or would want if we had a little more to buy with.”

KindaSorta said, “Depending on where you live. The cost of food varies (from) state to state.”

Desy said, “The answer is obviously yes, but would I get the healthy variety I get now? Absolutely not.”

Charles said, “Here's an interesting epilogue – ask John Boehner, Rick Perry and Sarah Palin to feed themselves and their wives on food stamps amounts.”

victim of democrat hypocrisy responded, “Here's a more interesting epilogue–we're ALL going to be trying to live on $30 a week to pay for Obamacare, Medicare, and Social Security!”

Aaron said, “If you are not concerned with the origins of the food, $30 is possible, but if you wish to eat healthy, avoid processed foods and keep things natural/organic (as in no pesticides, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, etc), then $30 is a joke.”

T3chsupport said, “Here are some meals I was raised on. "Ronies": My dad's invention: tomato sauce + macaroni (Tabasco optional). Chilli Noodles: just like it sounds, chilli + macaroni (Tabasco optional). Hamburger gravy over white rice, or leftover mashed potatoes... mix all of that up with some frozen corn and nom nom. A snack was often times a flour tortilla laid directly on a stove burner, left to grill up a tiny bit, with some melted butter spread around inside. Roll up and nosh.”

Mary said, “The egg is really the world's most perfect food. And if you had to (and didn't mind the cholesterol) you could stretch a $3.00 carton to feed yourself breakfast lunch and dinner for a week. I'd rather eat scrambled eggs with salsa and toast than ramen."

Nick Frugal said, “Can of oatmeal ($3) + raisins ($4) = breakfast for a month ($7 total). Pound of dry beans ($1) + cup of barley/rice ($1) + cup of frozen chopped spinach ($.50) = lunch for a week ($2.50). That's two meals for $4.75/week. That leaves about $25 for dinner and snacks. It's doable. The key questions are number of calories and complete nutrition. That's not so easy.”

Jen said, “Trader Joe's is a great place to shop. They've got lots of healthy food and low prices.”

Yougottabekiddingme said, “OMG. $30 for a WEEK!? That's a luxury I can't afford. Try this: peanut butter sandwiches (on wheat bread) every morning for breakfast. A homemade spread (like bologna salad) on wheat for lunch. Hamburger Helper for dinner (or hot dogs.) Where are the fresh fruits and veggies? THERE AIN'T NONE – can't afford it. Consider yourself VERY lucky if you can afford more than $30.00 a week for food.”

KWDragon said, “Okay, I get what many of you are saying. I could do $30 per week when I was in college, too. So could my husband. However, we now have two teenage daughters. They have certain nutritional needs that Ramen seven days a week will not cover. Nor am I interested in mac & cheese all the time. It is not healthy. Milk is a requisite, as are fresh vegetables. We have a good supply of meat in the freezer, as we buy a whole animal or two every fall (whole pig, quarter cow). We don't eat fancy, but we do eat well. And there is no way we could feed the four of us EXCLUSIVELY on $120 per week, without hitting our freezer and the extra veggies we can each fall.”

American churches struggle

A newly released decade-long survey of American congregations shows religious health and vitality are weaker than they were 10 years ago. Fewer people are attending weekly services (a drop from 130 to 108 during the decade) and churches are facing harder times financially due to the recession.

Many CNN.com readers shared their own worship experience and thoughts about what caused the decline.

Chris said, “I know my religious attendance went down over the last ten years. I started the decade in a foreign country serving a mission for my church and I was 100 percent sure what I was doing was correct. Ten years later I still am glad I served, but my church attendance is down and I don't feel the same I used to. I think it is because I am 30 now and I see things differently.”

Ralph in Orange Park, FL said, “Maybe it is the result of people who used to think they were "obligated" to go to church finally figuring out that they are not."

DJ said, “Don't know where you are getting your info, but the Pentecostals are growing by leaps and bounds. This year, they are growing by the thousands.”

Ed Galbraith responded, “Sorry, DJ. Not so.”

Grant said, “I'm kind of glad. Never seemed to me that God needed all that earthly wealth anyway. Maybe folks will get back to praying without paying."

Believer said, “This decline must be taken in context. Certain denominations have been declining while others have been growing tremendously. And perhaps, could there be any co-relationship between our declining faith and worship, and our worsening economy – humm."

free2do said, “I think some people are turned off by some of the hypocrisy and political activism.”

Eli responded, “You are right...at least for me. The biggest issue with the church is the fallacy inside and outside of the whole organization.”

Jman said, “The fall away from the church is foretold in Revelations. 90% of what is written in Revelations has already come to pass. Maybe it is time for TakeaHike to wake up and ask for forgiveness and mercy from God.”

TheTruth72 said, “Christians are the ‘church.’ We don't need buildings to have a relationship with Jesus. I got out of Catholicism about a year ago due to tradition that didn't make sense to me and many things not even in the Bible. It’s hard telling people who are caught up in it, because they just continue to believe the man made doctrine.”

Unhappy Facebookers

Facebook has rolled out an overhaul to users’ home pages and they all thrilled. Among the changes, ‘Top Stories’ hover over recent posts in News Feeds and there is a new quick-scrolling ‘Ticker.’ Facebook says changes help people find the top news, not just the latest updates.

CNN.com readers shared their disapproval:

Anolderguy said, “’Top Stories?’ It is a top story if I think it is a top story. I don't like an algorithm deciding what is important to me. Some things just don't need to be automatic unless I ask it to be.”

ladycyanide said, “I don't care for most of the new changes, but they're tolerable. What's outright hexing me is the fact that my status updates, which are set to friends only, along with most of my profile, have become visible to anyone.”

Austinstar said, “Personally I have enjoyed using Facebook. I'm talking to people from my past that I probably wouldn't be communicating with otherwise. It also has helped me promote myself as a musician. However, I do not like the new changes. The ticker thing is way distracting. What annoys me most is that there is no way to opt out from these ‘improvements.’"

lbrunett said, “I haven't logged on to see the changes yet but I have heard plenty of complaints from my friends. I certainly do not want non-friends to see any of my posts and I hope they fix that right away.”

rpeck1971 said, “Facebook will not exist by 2016.”

Vsaxena said, “I'm getting very sick of this. I had organized my feed by hiding stuff I didn't care for, and Facebook has managed to undo all that with one stroke.”

ilstonehenj responded, “Ohhhh noooooeeesss!”

WebsterLong said, “Does Facebook think its time for me to have lunch? I'll await their answer.”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Doresearch

    Yea riiiiiight 30 bucks a week is a joke. Anyone who says that its easy or whatever is lying. Even if u only ate off dollar menu for every meal that aint even 2 items a meal..and as a dollarmenuaire i can assure u u aint gettin by on that.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • tax everyone else but me

      It's difficult when you have been living on other peoples money aka food stamps. When it's your own money you would be suprised on how frugal yet healthy you can eat.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sigma

      The "dollar" menu!? Yes, if you eat out at fast food you will spend more money on food than if you make the food yourself. Because they are *making a profit* on you at the restaurant! Buy the raw ingredients and make your own meal for a lot healthier and a lot less money than a dollar.
      We are not so weak and helpless that we must rely on fast food to feed us!

      September 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 0_0

    I am spending ~33 dollars a week on food. Being a broke college student forces me to learn how to live on that. I get by well.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Icelander

    Honestly!! If you don't like my hard earned tax money of 30.00$ a month for food, GET A JOB!! Learn how to earn, have some respect for yourself. 30.00$ a month is meant to HELP for short periods of time, not coddle those who make it their lifestyle to live off of MY paycheck. There are farmers markets in every city, very affordable and great prices. The least you can do if you are using my $$$ is be creative.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar


    September 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cesar

    @s kel: Hey, give me a hanky, but not one of your filthy ones, you dooch bag.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sunny

    Sure, suburbanites might make it on $30 per week. If you're in the inner cities, without access to a decent grocery store, you're left with the corner marts that charge a small fortune for what's on the shelf. If you're in rural America, you often drive a substantial distance to get to your groceries. By all means, take as superficial a look at hunger in the US as it's possible to do.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Left Coast

    $30 a week? Not enough if you live in an urban area that's for sure. But hey, we have to keep taxes low for "job creators." Isn't that what the Republican Party says? Let's whip up the Republican base!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. historyteacher

    Historical amnesia allows people to talk about their "hard earned tax dollars" and determine people lazy, when since 1492 White supremacy has ruled this country as well as patriarchy and other forms of oppression that create REAL conditions of poverty, lack of education and a host of other issues that leave people without jobs. Minimum wage is NOT enough for people to live on in SF or most major cities-so stop trying to pretend that EVEN IF THERE WERE ENOUGH JOBS, that lack of childcare and minimum wage, for example, doesn't effect WHY people are poor and need assistance!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Citizen Twain

    They are trying to condition you to accept nothing.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Citizen Twain

    I spend 200.00 a week on groceries for a family of 4. Groceries are getting very expensive and giving someone 30.00 a week is just evil.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Be Real

    This is a freaking joke. $30 a week? I can only imagine how well balanced their diet is. Not to mention their cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, etc. Absolute joke. $100 a week to eat healthy is reasonable. And that doesn't even include an occasional meal out. God Forbid some people can afford to eat out a restaurant or spend $5 a meal!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Republicrat

    $30 a week will buy your VERY unhealthy foods. Cheaper food= more processed and we WONDER why 1/3 people in America are overweight!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sigma

      $30 a week averaged for a month, buys me organic lettuce, potatoes, beans, rice, onions, broccoli, carrots, flour, sugar, eggs, honey, peanut butter, oats, a very small (and healthy) portion of meat, etc.
      I MAKE bread, tortillas, casseroles, stir-fry, soups and more, and it's healthy, balanced, inexpensive and so much better than the 'expensive' pre-made food that most people think is necessary for life.

      September 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. idon'tthinkso

    And if you're homeless or renting a room and don't have access to a kitchen? What then?

    September 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Libby

    $30 a week .. no organic milk; no free range organic eggs; no gluten free products. Possible, but I'd be very sick from being forced to eat pesticide ladened, gmo crap and gluten products.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JS

    I love alone and spend about $50 at Whole Foods every two weeks or so, cooking every single one of my own meals from scratch. It's not that difficult...

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
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