CLEVELAND -- A new reduction in the SNAP program, which most people still call food stamps, will force recipients to feed themselves on less than $1.40 per meal. The change starts Nov, 1.
About 1.9 million Ohioans are on the program.
The cuts take away a slight increase OK'd by Congress during the heart of the recession, even though many families' economic outlook has not improved.
The allotment works out to $29.40 per week.
Tom Beres went shopping to see what that buys.
He focused on purchases that would fill plates and fill stomachs.
He bought off-brand breakfast pastries, canned pasta products and vegetables, reduced-price chicken about to pass its sell-by date, hot dogs, tuna, ramen noodles, a bag of apples and head of lettuce.
It totaled $27.13, leaving 27 cents to spare.
Cleveland Clinic Registered Nutritionist Laura Jeffers gave the grocery basket an overall grade of D-plus, citing too much sodium, saturated fats and prepared foods.
With the same money , she purchased apples, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, turkey lunchmeat, wheat bread, a gallon of milk and tuna.
She talked about the difficulty of buying enough healthy food on a food-stamp budget.
"For the average person, it can be challenging. ... It has to be something you focus on. ... No one's going to starve if they are (eating) what you (bought) every day, but their health outcomes will be less," she said.
She stressed the need to shop for bargains, look for sales and buy in bulk.
The Agriculture Department has information about shopping healthy.
Information is available at Snap.nal.usda.gov.
Families often exhaust food stamps late in the month. For this first month of newly-lowered benefits, that will hit around Thanksgiving.
The Greater Cleveland FoodBank and other pantries and hunger centers predict the cuts will mean more demand on them.
Grocers are also concerned about lost food sales caused by the cut.