04/14/2015 03:15 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Living on Food Stamps is Impossible

We keep hearing "supplemental." The food stamps are supposed to supplement your budget, not be all that you eat.


Here is the reality, with rent and other expenses, if you are living on minimum wage, food stamps may be all you have to eat.

You can argue that it is supposed to be a supplement until we are blue in the face, but when there is no other money available, that $29 per week (on average) is all you have to eat on.

No one, not even Gwyneth Paltrow can understand the hunger and desperation felt by those using the program. One week is a diet, day after day after day after day, it is soul crushing.

Twice I live on the average food stamp budget . I broke the rules, in that friends took me out to dinner and helped out. Both times I did it for two months each and could not wait for it to be over.

I am a chef, I had every advantage. I had equipment, a great kitchen, I had transportation and the time to make everything myself. I did my best to eat healthfully and guess what. I still failed. It is impossible to get both the calories and the nutrition needed on this budget. Impossible!

Rice and beans can only go so far.

I was challenged a second time to do it as a diabetic. I am not diabetic, but the point was a good one. I had eaten a LOT of pasta and rice in my first challenge. What happens when I had to give that up? In the winter, with produce expensive, and the self imposed health restrictions, I went a little bit nuts trying to stay satiated. I really love my vegetables and I will never forget buying that one head of broccoli and dividing it up over several meals.

This country does not need another celebrity to tell us how life is for "these people." These people are all around us and they are hungry.

Republicans go on discussion boards and make the point that if they did not want to live in poverty they should have gone to college. Many have, jobs do not exist for every college graduate. Chat with your barista and see how many of them have advanced degrees.

The truth is that all welfare is corporate welfare. It supplements the wages that the Walmarts and McDonald's restaurants refuse to pay.

We need to have some compassion, stop hating the poor and try to understand them.

Stop with the glib comments that show a total lack of understanding and donate to your local food bank.

Keep in mind that no matter how many times you hear the story of the woman in the parking lot selling half of her food stamps for drug money, and using the rest for crab legs, and steak, and then driving off in her Rolls Royce wearing a fur coat and chatting on her new iphone it is still fiction.