In Your Words: Critical Perspective

Identifying, in a concrete way, with struggling families is an important exercise for any
leader. By walking in the shoes of those who depend on the SNAP program, I certainly feel like I’ve gained critical perspective as a policymaker.  From a broader perspective, I’m starting to think about all the other challenges families on food stamps (SNAP) must face at the same time they are stretching their food benefit. Census data in 2010  howed Arizona had the second highest poverty rate in the nation with 21.2% of its citizens living in poverty. The national figure was 14.3 percent. We’ve improved since then, but we’re still in the 10-poorest states category.  Worse, women raising children
alone here aren’t doing well.  More than 45% of mothers raising children by themselves are in poverty.  That’s why turning this economy around is so important.  The best “program” for any struggling family is a job that pays a living wage.  That’s what I’m focusing on for every Phoenix family.

– Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

In Your Words: Mayor Stanton

I have to admit that not ever being able to eat out is driving me crazy.  I don’t mean steak and lobster! Some days you want or even need to eat out with a workmate, or some nights a Pizza or Boston Market looks like a great idea to bring home dinner and just be done with it.  But that’s not allowed, no matter how inexpensive the restaurant or takeout meal is.  It strikes me that this program was designed in an era of stay-at-home moms in two parent families.  With both parents working, or only one parent around, it seems a little unfair to me not to have the flexibility of getting prepared food sometimes.  Modern families, even those who watch their money, sometimes need that grab-and-go convenience.

– Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

In Photos: Mayor Stanton

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton joined ACAA staff as well as guests from St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and UCFW (United Food and Commercial Workers) at his local Safeway store in Phoenix on September 18th for a shopping trip on a SNAP budget. Armed with a detailed shopping list and a calculator, the Mayor made his way through the store, choosing his items with care and avoiding the aisles that held food not included on his shopping list.

As the Mayor loaded up his groceries at the register, he questioned whether his total would be under $29, the total allowed for the week under the SNAP Experience. Even with the calculator at hand, he was relying on the store’s savings card to bring his total under $29.

When all was said and done, the total for the Mayor’s groceries came to $28.30. The City of Phoenix charges a tax on food products, which was included in his total, though shoppers using SNAP benefits to purchase food are exempt from this tax.

If you’re wondering what the Mayor of Phoenix purchases when he has to limit his food intake for the week, his cart included: 3 apples, 3 bananas, 1 head of iceberg lettuce, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 package of spaghetti, 1 gallon of fat-free milk, 1 box of store-brand cornflakes, a small jar of peanut butter, a loaf of wheat bread, a cup of noodles, 1 can of beans, ground beef, chicken, cheese, and eggs.

Asked by St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s Jerry Brown to talk some about his Experience so far, the Mayor responded, “I’m already to the point where I’ve had to skip meals, and I know that’s not a healthy thing to do. I’m blessed to be in a position to do it by choice. So many people have no other option. Healthy living means three healthy meals and even under the best of conditions, you can see it’s a very difficult on this budget…SNAP is an important program for the livelihoods of people, those who are going through difficult periods in their lives and hopefully a transition period as they are able to pull out of it. These are real human beings, they are the real base of our community and they need support. We have to be mindful of that.”

If you would like to read more about the Mayor’s shopping trip, check out the blog by St. Mary’s Food Bank.

In Your Words: Mayor Stanton

I wonder how folks with health problems get by on SNAP.  An individual with diabetes has got to stay away from too many simple carbs, and have protein at every meal to maintain level blood sugar.  By far the cheapest food items are potatoes, noodles, tortillas and white bread.  But these are empty calories that fill you up without really nourishing you.  And they send your blood sugar spiraling if you don’t have something more substantial along with them, like meat, fish, eggs or peanut butter.  A colleague taking this challenge cannot eat grains or dairy.  She’s getting by, but it’s difficult since starches and milk are the bargains and fresh fruits and vegetables are the “splurge” items on this budget.

– Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton