GOP shopper: It’s a SNAP to live on reduced food stamp allotment

A food fight erupted over a House farm bill Tuesday, with a handful of Democrats and a Republican aide wrangling over the cost of groceries.

About 30 Democrats launched a “SNAP Challenge,” intended to show that proposed cuts to food stamps would leave families unable to feed themselves.

EATING WELL: Donny Ferguson said he ate just fine on $31.50 a week.

EATING WELL: Donny Ferguson said he ate just fine on $31.50 a week.

The Democrats claimed that the $31.50 weekly allotment from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the House farm bill in inadequate – and attempted to prove their point by living on that amount.

Republican skeptics countered that the Democrats intentionally bought overpriced food and shopped at high-priced chains to make it appear that proposed SNAP cuts go too far.

Donny Ferguson, agriculture policy adviser to Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, said he was able to buy enough food to eat well for a week on just $27.58.

“I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps.  I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself.  I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling,” said Ferguson.

“We can cut the proposed benefits by an additional 12.4 percent and still be able to eat for a week,” said Ferguson.  “Not only am I feeding myself for less than the SNAP Challenge, I will probably have food left over.”

What food is left over at the end of the week will be donated to a food bank, along with the $3.92 Ferguson had left over from the $31.50 SNAP Challenge figure.

Ferguson said he did not use coupons our other discount programs.

“I could have bought even more food per person if I were splitting $126 four ways, instead of budgeting $31.50 to eat for one” said Ferguson. “I could have bought cheaper vegetables instead of prepared red beans and rice, but I like red beans and rice.”

Ferguson purchased his food at the Dollar Tree and Shopper’s Food Warehouse located in the 6100 block of Little River Turnpike in Alexandria.  It is served by Metrobus and within bike and walking distance of public housing.

For $21.55, Ferguson purchased at Dollar Tree:

Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal

Three cans of red beans and rice

Jar of peanut butter

Bottle of grape jelly

Loaf of whole wheat bread

Two cans of refried beans

Box of spaghetti

Large can of pasta sauce

Two liters of root beer

Large box of popsicles

24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix

Eight cups of applesauce

Bag of pinto beans

Bag of rice

Bag of cookies

For $6.03 at the Shoppers Food Warehouse next door Ferguson bought a gallon of milk and a box of maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

Earlier this month, the Senate approved a farm bill that would trim nutrition assistance by $4 billion out of nearly $800 billion over 10 years. The House version, which is being debated, cuts $20 billion over the same period.

Kenric Ward is a national reporter for and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at [email protected]

Published with permission from

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a seasoned journalist with experience as a daily newspaper reporter, newsroom editor and online political writer. Kenric has worked at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers and numerous state and national awards for investigative articles ranging from business to education to politics.


  • Jamie

    A lot of arrogant people in this world. Not everyone is a vegetarian. Not everyone on Food Stamps have nice phones, nice cars or tattoo's. Some people abuse the system but most people don't. The price this person ate on is not enough. No where did he mention any purchase of meats. It really depends on where you live. There are parts of the country where food is cheaper than others. Where I live which is CT the food is very expensive so I buy food on sale or at BJ's. Also, you have to look at whether the person is buying healthy products. The leaner and healthier the food the more your going to pay. I feed my family of 7 on about 1200.00 month and at times it is not enough and I am sure that is more than what people get on Food Stamps. If at times it is hard for me, I am sure it is hard for people on Food Stamps. So, stop judging people. Not everyone on Food Stamps are bad or abuse the system.

    • Michael

      Lets do some math 31.5 * 7 = 220.5

      220.5 * 4 = $882.

      Add another $94 for the next 3 days of the month and food stamps come to $976 a month.

      So you have a job and spend $1200 a month on food and we are saying people on food stamps you live on $976 for the same size family. Which is about 82% of what you spend

      Quite honestly people on food stamps don't have to live as easily as those who choose to work. Without the 30% cut current food stamp participants get more money for food today than you currently pay.

  • Adair

    This is just one of the diversions used to keep you distracted from the bigger issue that they are hiding from you and trying to push through legislation on TPP if you really want to know what Washington is working on educate yourself on that legislation

  • Michael

    Get a job and then food stamps aren't all you have.

    Food stamps shouldn't be so high you can eat well with no challenges.

    Plus if you had a problem there are plenty of religious institutions that help with food. Perhaps Al Sharpton can share some of his millions.

    Also there is no shortage of soup kitchens to give you a nice restaurant meal for free.

  • sick of mooching peo

    Why should I be responsible for idiots who decided to have multiple kids without sufficient financial stability and savings? I would give you a bag of rice a month. Incentive to eat what you want would hopefully get these slackers motivated. Your kids are not mine, no matter what MSNBC tells you. You are the one who has failed your children by not making wise decisions, not me.

  • Nancy

    How do the get so over weight on $31.00?

  • Allenhip

    There are over 47 million low-and middle-income families living on a true safety-net program called SNAP formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

    It’s true most of them are are children and can’t vote, but when they do which political party do you think they will join?

  • Cheesy

    What happened to "Beggar's can't be choosers?"

    Hot tip for freeloaders: Don't have more kids than you can afford to feed.

  • Carolyn

    Re: to Sick…. instead of food stamps with my tax dollars, try moonlighting, as it used to be called, you know , an extra job. Too many low wage earners feel they only have to work 6 -8 hours a day and get their FS. Try being self sufficient.

  • Carolyn

    Kuddo's spencer. Yep, we're from the old school of making do and feel we're not missing a thing !

  • Doug

    Now let's see him eat that diet for a year. Then he will prove you can survive on $27 a week.

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