Can you eat on $4.50 a day? - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Can you eat on $4.50 a day?

Eau Claire (WQOW)- Take a moment and think about the amount of food you eat in a single day.  Now try and put a price on all that food. Was it less than $5.00? Probably not. But that's the budget many people deal with daily. Some right here in our community.

Sometimes, to talk about a solution, you have to first understand the problem. Andrea Albers set out to get an idea of what life is like for low income families facing hunger and relying on federal assistance. She allowed herself to spend just $4.50 a day on food for an entire week.  Why $4.50? The average amount of federal food assistance per person, per month was $133.41 in 2012. Break that down and it works out to about $1.50 per person, per meal. So eating three meals day would mean $4.50 to spend on food, drinks... everything.  That's how Andrea arrived at her weekly budget of $31.50. It's meant to represent an average federal food benefit.

You cannot use FoodShare benefits to buy:
*Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
*Nonfood items, such as like pet food, paper products or diapers
*Vitamins or medicines
*Food that will be eaten inside the store

That does not mean the system is not abused. Suspected cases of FoodShare fraud are tracked in Eau Claire County. The county investigates anywhere from 200 to 300 cases per year, not all of which end up being fraudulent.  

With a camera and shopping list in hand Andrea headed for the grocery store. She also kept a video diary while the week wore on and the food dwindled. Follow that journey by watching the videos attached to this story.

$4.50 a Day: Part One

$4.50 a Day: Part Two

Find information on Wisconsin's FoodShare program here.

To learn about free cooking and nutrition classes offered by the UW Extension click here.

For a map of food resources in the Eau Claire area (hot meals, food pantries) click here.

To see a list of hunger relief agencies in the Eau Claire area click here.

Recipe Finder: Look up easy to make recipes by ingredient or cost per meal by clicking here.

Discover tips and tricks for meal planning, grocery shopping and budgeting here.
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