By Jueseppi B.
I read the following news story and for the first time in a long time, I Laughed Out Loud……
The bakery chain’s founder takes the SNAP Challenge and says lack of nourishment is making him grumpy and full of resentment.
By Aimee Picchi Tue 11:47 AM
Panera Bread (PNRA +0.86%) founder and chief executive Ron Shaich has built a fortune selling pumpkin muffins and croissants to America’s middle class.
But this week, he’s trying out the SNAP Challenge in an effort to find out how the other half lives by limiting grocery purchases to the average benefit amount shelled out by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s not much. A typical food stamp recipient receives just $4.50 per day in food aid, according to Feeding America.
On his LinkedIn (LNKD +0.17%) blog, Shaich writes that the effort has led to some eye-opening revelations. “Over the last few days, my thoughts have been consumed by food. When is my next meal? How much food is left in my cabinet? Will it get me through the week? What should I spend my remaining few dollars on? What would I eat if I had no budget at all?” he writes.
On top of the anxiety about food is actual hunger. Shaich notes that he opted to spend his budget on cereal and pasta, which has left him “feeling bloated . . . yet not really full.”
Shaich, who earned $4.4 million in compensation last year, says the feelings of anxiety and hunger led to another sensation: “an underlying sense of resentment.” For him, it was sparked by driving past restaurants he usually frequents. For a colleague trying the same challenge, resentment was triggered by “the price difference between branded and off-brand foods.”
Still, while Shaich’s effort to raise awareness of hunger in the U.S. is admirable, he may be missing the point of the food stamp program.
While the average monthly benefit for one person is just $133.44 (or about $4.50 a day), the program is designed to supplement participants’ own grocery money. Indeed, about 75% of SNAP beneficiaries also tap their own funds to stock their pantries.
At the same time, Shaich’s efforts couldn’t be more timely, given that Republicans are once again seeking to cut food stamp spending, this time by $4 billion a year. With one in seven Americans now relying on the program, it has come under criticism for being too lenient and open to fraud.
Still, many Americans’ wages have actually declined since the the start of the recession, so the program may be more needed than ever. And while some conservatives condemn food stamp recipients as loafers, Shaich has a different take on the issue.
“Hunger is not synonymous with unemployed or homeless,” he writes. “The inability to put food on the table is not equivalent to lazy.”
Thank you moneyNOW.
WHAT IS THE SNAP CHALLENGE?
The SNAP Challenge encourages participants to experience what life is like for millions of low-income Americans living on the average daily allowance of only $4.80! We suggest taking the challenge for a week, but some participants last only a few days, while others have chosen to participate for the duration of Hunger Action Month. Register Now!
I happen to be a very private person. I don’t reveal much about me on this blog or on social media, my real name is NOT Jueseppi. But I sit here and watch this circus side show, first by politicians and now this Panera Bread idiot, and I think…taking a 30 day challenge is absofuckinlutely nothing remotely close to actually living on food stamps.
I have diabetes and Neuropathy, which is nerve damage caused by my diabetes, which landed me on Social Security Disability, which also caused me to retire way before I should have, from working 26 years as a chef. Can’t cook for a living if you can’t be on your feet for 12 to 14 hours a day now can you?
I received food stamp assistance in 2008 when I first retired because of my diabetes and Neuropathy. I received $230 a month in SNAP assistance. When I received my very first Disability payment 2 years later, my food stamp assistance dropped from $230 a month to a whopping $26 a month. I’m not the worst off person on disability by no means, and I get by just fine from disability check to disability check, and in 1 year I become eligible for Social Security when I reach 55.
I do however run out of food every month at or around the 19th or 20th….every month. Remember, I get $26 a month for food.
I get giddy when I read that a politician, or a multi-millionaire businessman has decided to take the SNAP challenge for 30 days.
Try taking it for two years.
Oh yeah…..I get $26 a month, which comes out to .86 cents a day. And I am not alone.
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