(I need to get a couple other posts finished and "live" but have a new topic to start.)
I have worked with Social Justice/Action types of groups most of my life. When I was a child, I helped put together gift boxes for families around holidays, particularly Christmas, which included food. I learned that not everybody had a lot of money for food. When my family was led by an underemployed (or underpaid) single mother, we learned that there is a difference between having the food you need and having the food you want.
As a result, I have generally been frugal about food. I buy day-old bread and bruised produce and stuff on sale and I use coupons. Being just one person I'm not as radical about it as some people who seem to base their life on trying to get stuff for free, but I do OK. Yet I've never had to live on food stamps, and never tried to live on the food stamp allowance, although I've read blogs and articles by persons who have.
I've just heard about the local SNAP Into Action Against Hunger program, and I'm going to try to do it this year. Not for the whole month, because I have some travel upcoming and am busy with meetings and so on, but for at least a week. If I can, I'll do one week at the base amount, and another week at the increased amount you get if you complete the application form, although the link for that appears to be from a past year and may not be valid.
Kickoff event is Monday night. I am already doing some shopping and planning menus. I know some people take their allowance for the week, buy stuff, and try to just eat that stuff for a week. I would think that people who are always on this food budget would learn to shop ahead if they see a sale and plan, although I could be wrong. That's what my family did, and that is what I plan to do.
So far, I have pasta, rice, lentils, canned tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, cheese, and some frozen vegetables. This put me at $12.84 so far, which is more than half the budget for a week ($3 per day for 7 days, unless the per-day amount has increased - I notice that Illinois used $4.50 this year). I didn't actually buy the macaroni because I had just stocked up, so I am cheating slightly by using what is in my pantry but using what I would have paid at the store, where it is on sale. I don't yet have milk (I'll use dry or canned) or breakfast cereal, or fruit. I'll get bread when I start, to have a fresh loaf.
This is going to be very different from my usual meals. I don't usually eat the cheap white bread, and while I am not a big meat eater day-to-day I do eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. I may not be able to afford these. I'm definitely giving up most of my usual beverages - no soda pop, no juice, no tea. Even though the water is free, the tea bag costs something!