WBEZ | food stamps http://www.wbez.org/tags/food-stamps Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Food stamp spending grows at Midwest farmers markets http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/food-stamp-spending-grows-midwest-farmers-markets-109436 <p><p dir="ltr">In 2013, the amount of money spent at farmers markets by food stamp recipients grew in the Midwest.</p><p dir="ltr">And the number of farmers markets that accept food stamps experienced a 79 percent increase.</p><p dir="ltr">Alan Shannon, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said there are a lot of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658">misperceptions</a> about families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A lot of times there are access issues - food deserts and the like - where SNAP populations or lower-income populations don&rsquo;t have access to healthy food. Farmers markets a lot of times can resolve those challenges,&rdquo; Shannon said.</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, 65 farmers markets in Illinois accepted SNAP benefits; this year there are 97.</p><p dir="ltr">That helps many low-income areas, which <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/audio-engineering/federal-food-stamp-program-fails-some-low-income-chicagoans">lack</a> healthy food options.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When we look at these data every year going up for SNAP redemptions in the Midwest, you can tell that SNAP participants really do want healthy food, they just have to have access to it,&rdquo; Shannon said.</p><p>Illinois is third in the country in the number of farmers markets. Michigan is second in the nation in farmers market food stamp sales. Shannon said the private and nonprofit sector has helped support small farmers reach low-income families.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/image001.jpg" style="height: 308px; width: 620px;" title="Source: USDA" /></div><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Tue, 31 Dec 2013 05:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/food-stamp-spending-grows-midwest-farmers-markets-109436 Non-profit sees greater need for food assistance http://www.wbez.org/news/non-profit-sees-greater-need-food-assistance-109276 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 9.53.20 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s been a holiday season of breaking records at <a href="http://www.ajustharvest.org/">A Just Harvest</a>, a Rogers Park nonprofit that feeds the hungry.</p><p>The organization serves hot dinner daily to anyone who shows up, but during the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas it also distributes &ldquo;holiday kits,&rdquo; uncooked turkeys and traditional fixings, to families that want to prepare the foods at home.</p><p>&ldquo;Saturday we gave away turkeys and kits, and we had folks lined up for two blocks,&rdquo; said Rev. Marylin Pagan-Banks, executive director of A Just Harvest. &ldquo;People lining up and standing in the cold and bearing the weather in order to provide for their families.&rdquo;</p><p>Pagan-Banks said the organization had never seen that before, and that by Thanksgiving week it had already distributed 305 of the kits, with four weeks to go until Christmas.</p><p>Last year, A Just Harvest gave away 380 kits for the two holidays together &mdash;a number that it seems certain to beat this year.</p><p>In part, Pagan-Banks blames <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/illinois-residents-lose-220-million-dollars-snap-benefits-109035">cuts that kicked in this month </a>to the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, also known as the food stamp program.</p><p>Congress declined to renew an increase in funding to the program that had gone into effect in 2009 as part of the Recovery Act. For a family of four, this amounts to $36 less per month of food assistance.</p><p>&ldquo;Folks already struggle towards the end of the month, because the allotment wasn&rsquo;t enough to start with,&rdquo; said Pagan-Banks. &ldquo;And so it&rsquo;s the end of the month, and it&rsquo;s a holiday where traditionally there are different types of food that are eaten, they cost more, turkeys are not cheap, and there&rsquo;s just no way to make ends meet.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 29 Nov 2013 08:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/non-profit-sees-greater-need-food-assistance-109276 Morning Shift: Bringing sex trafficking out of the shadows http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-01/morning-shift-bringing-sex-trafficking-out-shadows <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Traffick Flickr Ira Gelb_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Writer/director Mary Bonnett and Kathy Neely of the Dreamcatcher Foundation tell us about their new play that exposes the harsh reality of sex trafficking around Chicago. Plus, a look at a Chicago jazz collaboration remembers the great Miles Davis. (Photo: Flickr/Ira Gelb)</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-shining-a-light-into-the-shadowy-wor/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-shining-a-light-into-the-shadowy-wor.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-shining-a-light-into-the-shadowy-wor" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Bringing sex trafficking out of the shadows" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-01/morning-shift-bringing-sex-trafficking-out-shadows Illinois residents lose 220 million dollars in SNAP benefits http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/illinois-residents-lose-220-million-dollars-snap-benefits-109035 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Food Stamps.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-2f427842-09fa-adb3-60c4-5211dc0f5c8d">In Illinois, about 16 percent of the population uses food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Starting this Friday, all <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3899">2,031,000 of them</a> will have less money to spend on groceries. A family of three, for example, will lose $29 a month in benefits. Many social service providers expect more families will rely on already strained food banks.</p><p dir="ltr">The change could also have a broader economic impact on the state, $220 million fewer dollars will flow into Illinois through the program.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There is a real risk that we may lose food retailers, particularly in areas of the state where there is a high usage of SNAP. So we are talking about making the food desert problem worse,&rdquo; said <a href="http://povertylaw.org/about/staffbios/dan-lesser">Dan Lesser, Director of Economic Justice in the Chicago offices of the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law</a>.</p><p>SNAP benefits were temporarily increased in 2009 as part of the <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/arra">Recovery Act.</a> Because the money is immediately spent on food, some experts believe increasing SNAP is quick way to stimulate the economy. But the boost expires November 1st.</p><p>Those cuts may not be the last. Some conservative lawmakers say too many people are in the program and it&rsquo;s too expensive. The U.S. House has proposed cutting SNAP by about $4 billion a year for 10 years, for a total of $40 billion dollars. The cuts come by drastically restricting eligibility for the program. A Senate bill proposes much more modest cuts. Negotiations begin this week.</p></p> Wed, 30 Oct 2013 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/illinois-residents-lose-220-million-dollars-snap-benefits-109035 Natalie Moore's SNAP challenge food diary and shopping strategy for food stamps http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/natalie-moores-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108661 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2011.57.04%20PM.png" style="height: 246px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Monday food diary</strong></div><p>It is nearly impossible to eat three balanced meals on $5 a day.</p><p>Even though I came in just under my budget, I was hungry most of the day.</p><p>In hindsight, I should&rsquo;ve prorated food items based on consumption to buy additional products.</p><p>I combined breakfast and lunch into a day of snacking, which is what I typically do &ndash; but usually with additional food items such as hummus or soup/salad.</p><p><strong>Breakfast</strong></p><p>In the morning, I drank water, ate a plum and plain bread. Just enough sustenance to last me until noonish.</p><p><strong>Lunch</strong></p><p>Throughout the day, I snacked on my Sabritas nuts. Later, I devoured the second plum, which I had hoped to save for Tuesday consumption.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Dinner</strong></div><p>Monica generously gave me a spoonful of sofrito for my black beans that had soaked overnight.</p><p>I sauteed the tomato-based sauce in vegetable oil with fresh garlic and then added the small chunks of pork hock, aka ham hock, from an organic pig farm.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2011.58.48%20PM.png" style="height: 232px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" />I cooked the beans in too much water so I emptied a cup out before embellishing with sea salt and pepper.</p><p>After the beans simmered for a few hours, I broke out the olive oil and flash-fried kale with sea salt and pepper.</p><p>The beans were tender and smokey. The kale provided a bit of crunch.</p><p>I couldn&rsquo;t afford rice.</p><p><strong>Tuesday food diary</strong></p><p><strong>Breakfast</strong></p><p>I cheated.</p><p>I know, I know. I lack Monica&rsquo;s commitment. A friend bought me a cup of coffee. But I considered it an appetite suppressant.</p><p>An hour later, I ate one of the bruised knockoff peaches from the farmers market. It wasn&rsquo;t pretty to eat, but just ripe.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-12%20at%2012.00.27%20AM.png" style="float: right; height: 238px; width: 300px;" title="" /><strong>Lunch</strong></div><p><strong>T</strong>he aforementioned breakfast, which functioned more as a snack, was barely enough fuel for me while I was out reporting in the field.</p><p>I passed a Cuban sandwich spot and a Jewel grocery store, which has magnificent lunch deals. I kept driving.</p><p>Later, I heated up the rest of my bread with a pat of butter. I cut the mango.</p><p>Unfortunately, it was unripe, but I ate a few chewy slices anyway to go with the Sabritas. By 4 p.m. my meals felt monotonous.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Dinner</strong></p><p>Leftovers. I had cooked enough beans for an entire family.</p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eJOwcSr-eu/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p><strong>Natalie&#39;s SNAP shopping list</strong></p><p>I spent $3.87 on Saturday with Monica at the farmers market after we split our items (kale, peaches, pork hock) and factored in our SNAP double value. That left me with $6.13 to spend.</p><p><strong>At Pete&rsquo;s I spent:</strong></p><p>$1.59 chile y limon Sabritas (nuts)</p><p>$1.53 black beans in bulk</p><p>$.69 two plums</p><p>$.88 one mango</p><p>$.79 two bread rolls</p><p><strong>Pete&#39;s total:</strong> $5.48</p><p><strong>Grand Total:</strong> $9.35</p><p><strong>SNAP Recap</strong></p><p>At the end of the two days, we didn&rsquo;t exactly know what it&rsquo;s like to live on food stamps. But we got a taste, and it wasn&rsquo;t very pleasant. It was time consuming, stressful and starting to get monotonous. We saw a world full of food that was beyond our reach and became more aware of how important motivation, consumer education and cooking knowledge is to creating healthy meals on a budget. We can only imagine how much harder it would&rsquo;ve been without our cars, kitchen equipment and access to great products.</p><p>The food stamp debate is a heated one with strong arguments on both sides. But most people who look at federal food consumption and health statistics tend to agree that the nation would be better off if we could all manage to regularly buy, cook and eat nutritious foods.</p><p><strong>For anyone who wants to take the SNAP challenge during September, here are the rules from the Greater Chicago Food Depository:</strong></p><ol><li dir="ltr"><p>Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount is $35/week or $5/day for all food and beverage.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.</p></li><li dir="ltr">Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.</li></ol><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 23:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/natalie-moores-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108661 Monica Eng's SNAP Challenge food stamp diary and shopping strategy http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/monica-engs-snap-challenge-food-stamp-diary-and-shopping-strategy-108660 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.51.50%20PM.png" style="width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Monday food diary</strong></p><p><strong>Breakfast: </strong>Two fried eggs in sauteed kale, two tortillas, 1 tbsp sauerkraut, beans and a cup of tea.</p><p>This meal mirrors what I normally eat for breakfast, but I had to go with factory farmed chicken eggs (99 cents a dozen) because eggs from chickens who live on pasture and aren&rsquo;t fed genetically modified grain cost me $5 to $6 a carton. I also had to swap my morning coffee and cream for Aldi tea. It&rsquo;s actually pretty tasty and I kept some of the concentrated tea at the bottom of the cup to make iced tea later.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Lunch: </strong>Rice and beans, half an avocado, sambal chili sauce.</div><p>Growing up in a half Puerto Rican family, I was blessed with a love for good rice and beans, and &ndash; more importantly &ndash; a grandmother who taught me how to cook them. The secret is a good sofrito, which you would ideally make from scratch with garlic, onion, sweet peppers and cilantro.</p><p>But a great substitute is fresh sofrito sold in area stores like Cermak Produce.</p><p>Unfortunately we had to go with a jarred version, which didn&rsquo;t give up much flavor, so I added extra garlic, salt and sambal, which is technically OK for our WBEZ SNAP challenge because they are condiments.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.52.11%20PM.png" style="height: 276px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" />Another delicious, money saving trick is buying dried beans, which require overnight soaking but save you tons of money and taste better than canned. The smoky fatty pork hock gives the beans added flavor.</p><p><strong>Snack:</strong> Piece of toast smeared with peanut butter and sliced apple.</p><p>As much as I wanted a sweet from the vending machines, I turned to the office toaster instead. Now that apples are in season, they are super affordable and paired with the protein-packed peanut butter they recall the peanut-sprinkled taffy apples of my childhood.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Snack:</strong> Piece of toast smeared with peanut butter and a nino banana</p><p>These tiny bananas delight my kids, but they&rsquo;re also good for the pocketbook when, in this case, I found very ripe ones discounted at a cost of 99 cents for 18 at Pete&rsquo;s. I like to eat them on a peanut butter and banana sandwich like a hot dog.</p><p><strong>Dinner: </strong>Raw kale tossed with lentils, rice and a mustard vinaigrette (vinegar, oil, dijon mustard).</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.52.34%20PM.png" style="height: 212px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="" /></div><p>On a hot September night, this made for a perfect cool dinner. I cooked the lentils in garlicky, salted water until just soft and then tossed them with rice, chopped kale and a mustard vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar and mustard). My daughter not only took seconds for dinner but asked me to pack more for her school lunch the next day. &nbsp;I wished my budget would have allowed for some chopped red pepper and scallions to brighten up the color and flavor but that wasn&rsquo;t in the budget.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.52.47%20PM.png" style="height: 201px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Tuesday food diary</strong></p><p><strong>Breakfast:</strong> Two eggs poached in a mug, two tortillas, rice and beans, sauerkraut, half avocado and cup of tea.</p><p>When you&rsquo;ve got kids to get dressed and off to school, you realize why so many people reach for pricey convenience foods. In our rush to get my daughter to early morning sports practice and a teenager to high school, I had no time to make breakfast. So I gathered all my ingredients and brought them to work. There, I microwave-poached a couple of eggs in a mug, heated tortillas and beans and made a cup of tea. Most people probably don&rsquo;t have office kitchens as well-equipped as WBEZ&rsquo;s and so missing breakfast at home might mean unhealthy convenience foods or zippo. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.53.04%20PM.png" style="height: 183px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Lunch:</strong> Bowl of lentils tossed in mustard vinaigrette, half avocado and piece of toast.</p><p>I can do lentils for another day but I can see how they might get a little monotonous after a while.</p><p>The Intelligentsia coffee in the WBEZ kitchen was beckoning me but I&rsquo;m sticking to my Aldi inexpensive tea that I turned into iced tea for this afternoon.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Snack:</strong> Nino banana with peanut butter. &nbsp;</div><p>When I need something small, sweet, a little fatty and nutritious, this is my go to snack.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Snack:</strong> Peach and hard boiled egg</div><p>When it comes to cheap sources of nutritious protein, eggs are one of your best bets. Once considered an unhealthy food that should be limited, more recent studies have vindicated its health profile. Plus, you <img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%2010.53.29%20PM.png" style="height: 259px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Tuesday dinner" />can&rsquo;t beat the portability of a hardboiled egg. I got these peaches from the &ldquo;seconds&rdquo; box at the farmers market for 20 cents each. The pretty peaches cost $5 a quart. After they were ripened, trimmed and sliced the less attractive fruits were delicious.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Dinner:</strong> Rice and beans with kale salad.</div><p>If my meals are starting to look a little repetitive, it&rsquo;s because they are &ndash; and that&rsquo;s how they began to taste. As much as I love rice, beans and kale, I was longing for some of the grilled chicken and watermelon that the rest of my family was feasting on at the dinner table.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-390d9ae9-103d-0926-ba18-6a4078184af3">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI8gckr-TV/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI3VDTL-bt/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p><p><strong>Monica&#39;s SNAP shopping list</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Total cost: $9.99</p><p><strong>Pork hock $2.37</strong></p><p>(15 oz hock cost 9.50 but we split it, then halved the price again to account for the double value given to SNAP benefits at 61st Street Farmers Market.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>6 eggs .50</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(full carton at Pete&rsquo;s cost 99 cents)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>12 oz dry beans .70</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(I bought a plastic carton for $1.53 and used a little less than half to soak and cook)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Kale bunch $1.25 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(we bought 2 for $5 at the market that doubled SNAP dollars)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>8 oz dry lentils .65</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>4 oz sofrito .75</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2 peaches .20 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bruised peaches cost 5 for $1 at 61st Street where SNAP gets double value)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2 apples .69</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(price at Pete&#39;s)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>6 ninos bananas .33 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bought 19 for 99 cents)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2 tbsp peanut butter .20 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(container cost $2.59)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>1/3 loaf bread .83</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(whole loaf was $2.59)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2.5 cups brown rice .35 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bag cost 69 cents, I made half)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>12 tortillas .25 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(bought at Atotonilco Tortilleria on 47th Street)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>7 oz Greek yogurt $1</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(Fage was on sale for $1 each)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Avocado .79 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(Pete&rsquo;s price)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3 tea bags .06 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(Aldi&rsquo;s Benner Classic Blend tea costs $1.89 for 100 bags)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3 tbsp sauerkraut .06 &nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">(I made 2 huge jars of sauerkraut with one $1 cabbage head and salt)</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-390d9ae9-1074-8a87-dda8-af76aabce10d"><strong>SNAP Recap</strong></p><p dir="ltr">At the end of the two days, we didn&rsquo;t exactly know what it&rsquo;s like to live on food stamps. But we got a taste, and it wasn&rsquo;t very pleasant. It was time consuming, stressful and starting to get monotonous. We saw a world full of food that was beyond our reach and became more aware of how important motivation, consumer education and cooking knowledge is to creating healthy meals on a budget. We can only imagine how much harder it would&rsquo;ve been without our cars, kitchen equipment and access to great products.</p><p>The food stamp debate is a heated one with strong arguments on both sides. But most people who look at federal food consumption and health statistics tend to agree that the nation would be better off if we could all manage to regularly buy, cook and eat nutritious foods.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-390d9ae9-1072-4174-4ead-8547442c692c"><strong>For anyone who wants to take the SNAP challenge during September, here are the rules from the Greater Chicago Food Depository:</strong></p><ol><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount is $35/week or $5/day for all food and beverage.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.</p></li><li dir="ltr">Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.</li></ol><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> @monicaeng</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/monica-engs-snap-challenge-food-stamp-diary-and-shopping-strategy-108660 USDA seeks input on food stamp program http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/usda-seeks-input-food-stamp-program-108659 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 10.30.01 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Department of Agriculture officials visited Chicago on Wednesday as part of their national listening tour. They&rsquo;re considering policy changes for retailers in the food stamp program that are skimping on healthy food choices.</p><p>The food stamp program is formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Advocates have long complained about lack of access to healthy food in corner and convenience stores - sometimes the only shopping options in areas designated as food deserts.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very likely that there are going to be some changes. We are very, very interested in hearing from the advocacy community particularly. But also from retailers as to how they can get these healthier options in these stores, &nbsp;not the constant &lsquo;no people won&rsquo;t buy them.&rsquo; But where it&rsquo;s been successful, tell us how you&rsquo;ve done it so we can have that as part of the model that we can utilize as we develop the new rules,&rdquo; said Audrey Rowe, administrator for Food and Nutrition Services for USDA.</p><p>Rowe said ideally changes would be implemented this time next year.</p><p>USDA is asking a number of questions about the impact of SNAP. They include whether certain retailers should be excluded, possible tweaks to staple food groups and figuring out how stores can &nbsp;improve access to food choices.</p><p>There&rsquo;s long been criticism that the food stamp program has low standards, and those low standards aren&rsquo;t enforced. It&rsquo;s easy to see how this routinely fails in Chicago.</p><p>In 2010, a WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/audio-engineering/federal-food-stamp-program-fails-some-low-income-chicagoans">investigation</a> found that liquor stores, gas stations and dollar stores comprise 30 percent of the food stamp providers in Chicago. Often, these places offer more junk food than fresh food, but the federal government still gives these stores the green light to accept food stamps.</p><p>&ldquo;Saturday I was driving down along the South Side and I was looking at the stores and I was trying to identify those that had Link [the name of Illinois&rsquo; food stamp card] in their window and wondered myself how compliant they are,&rdquo; Rowe said. &ldquo;Many stores when they want to apply are very compliant.&rdquo;</p><p>Rowe said USDA has expanded its compliance division to so that it can investigate more often. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>. </em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/usda-seeks-input-food-stamp-program-108659 Can two reporters survive on $5 of food a day? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 10.16.35 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Every September, hunger groups ask <a href="http://lee.house.gov/press-release/full-member-list-congressional-snap-challenge">politicians</a>, community leaders and journalists to take a break in their normal diet and try to live on $5 a day, or roughly the amount allotted to users of food stamps (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap">SNAP</a>).</p><p>This year&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageNavigator/SNAPChallenge.html">SNAP Challenge</a>&rdquo; comes as the USDA conducts a rare review of the rules that govern the federal food assistance program. It also coincides with another push by Congress to renew the Farm Bill, which expires on Sept. 30, and ultimately determines how much money is allocated to the program. WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore and producer Monica Eng have been following these developments closely and decided to take the SNAP challenge themselves this year.</p><p>First, a few caveats: we know that taking the <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageNavigator/SNAPChallenge.html">SNAP challenge</a>&nbsp;for two days is not the same as putting ourselves in the shoes of those who truly rely on the program. Our cooking knowledge, kitchen equipment and access to a car are not shared by all low-income Chicagoans. We also realize that surviving on $5 a day for two days is not the same as doing it for months or even years. &nbsp;And finally, we know that $5 is not a perfect figure for comparison as SNAP funds, in most cases, are supplemented with other income.</p><p>That said, in the course of a few days we learned a lot about the difficulty of translating these meager funds into healthy, fulfilling meals. We figured out how much extra time and planning this can take, and how many of the daily foods and treats we take for granted suddenly become unavailable when your budget is cut back so severely.</p><p><strong>Our SNAP Game Plan</strong></p><p>We began preparing for the challenge last Saturday at the <a href="http://experimentalstation.org/farmers-market">61st Street Farmers Market</a> in Woodlawn, where we interviewed real SNAP participants on how they use their money. We chose this particular farmers market to enjoy the &ldquo;theoretical&rdquo; benefit of double value for all SNAP purchases up to $25. This is the only market in the city that doubles benefits up to $25 and it was a huge help in making our dollars go further. Shopping with a friend allowed us to split items, for example buying two bunches of kale for $5, instead of $3 a bunch.</p><p>We continued our shopping at <a href="http://www.petesfresh.com/">Pete&rsquo;s Fresh Market</a> in Brighton Park and the <a href="http://www.tortilleriaatotonilco.com/">Atotonilco Tortilleria</a> and <a href="http://www.supermercadoselguero.com/en/">El Guero supermercado</a> in Back of the Yards. These stores offer a greater selection and, in some cases, better deals than many of the substandard convenience stores, liquor stores and gas stations that pepper many of Chicago&rsquo;s low-income neighborhoods (we hope to address the challenge of using SNAP at those stores down the road). &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>In total, it took us a whopping four hours to shop and plan our meals &ndash; and stay on budget. Next, we had to prepare our meals and then, of course, eat them!</p><p>Click on the following links to see our individual grocery lists and food diaries for Monday and Tuesday of this week (Sept. 9-10).</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/monica-engs-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108660" target="_blank">Monica Eng&#39;s SNAP food diary</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/natalie-moores-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108661" target="_blank">Natalie Moore&#39;s SNAP food diary</a></p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI8gckr-TV/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI3VDTL-bt/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eJOwcSr-eu/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658 Morning Shift: What food stamps buy http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-21/morning-shift-what-food-stamps-buy-107285 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Fish Spy 1_130520_LW_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>There may be changes on the way for how SNAP food assistance works. Plus conversations about spying on fish and closing Chicago schools.<script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/we-ll-help-you-buy-food-but.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/we-ll-help-you-buy-food-but" target="_blank">View the story "We'll help you buy food, but..." on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Tue, 21 May 2013 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-21/morning-shift-what-food-stamps-buy-107285 Midwest sees increase in food stamps at farmers markets http://www.wbez.org/story/midwest-sees-increase-food-stamps-farmers-markets-95140 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/RS352_AP080501044376-LINK Paul Beaty-lpr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois saw an increase in the number of farmers markets accepting food stamps.</p><p>Financially, that translated into a 112-percent increase in food stamp redemptions.</p><p>The Midwest did better than any other region this year when it came to food stamp usage at farmers markets.Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio all had dramatic surges compared with last year. Likewise, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/more-chicago-farmers-markets-accepting-food-stamps-87241">Chicago experienced an increase</a>.</p><p>Food stamps at farmers markets help low-income families.</p><p>"It’s important to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables," said Audrey Rowe, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Many individuals who are participants in our program live in what are called food deserts. Many of them are not even aware of where they can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables."</p><p>Rowe says red tape was cut for farmers - and that led to an ease in upping the number of markets that accept food stamps.</p><p><strong>Midwest Region Farmers Markets and Direct Marketing Farmers (DMF) Count and Redemption Data</strong></p><table style="width: 633px;" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="633"><tbody><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 40px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2010 Number of Markets/DMF</strong></p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2011 Number of Markets/DMF</strong></p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2010 SNAP Redemptions</strong></p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2011 SNAP Redemptions</strong></p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2010 / 2011 Redemptions Increase&nbsp; %</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Illinois</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">33</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">48</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$32,600</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$69,320</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>112.64%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Indiana</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">10</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">24</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$8,338</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$20,527</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>146.19%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Michigan</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">80</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">153</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$578,518</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$1,076,611</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>86.10%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Minnesota</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">27</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">44</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$20,007</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$66,652</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>233.14% </strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Ohio</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">56</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">84</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$81,086</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$167,040</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>106.00%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Wisconsin</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">25</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">46</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$48,962</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$77,042</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>57.35%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p><strong>Totals</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center"><strong>231</strong></p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center"><strong>399</strong></p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>$769,511</strong></p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center"><strong>$1,477,192</strong></p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p><table style="width: 3px; height: 479px;" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr></tbody></table><p>Source: USDA</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 19:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/midwest-sees-increase-food-stamps-farmers-markets-95140