Reporter lives off $31.50 for Food Stamp Challenge

EUGENE, Ore. -- As part of the week-long series "The Food Stamp State," KVAL News will profile different aspects of hunger in Oregon.

Every night, KVAL News will share a story about people in the community who are part of the rising number of Americans who face hunger everyday.

They aren't alone: 46.6 million Americans are part of the SNAP program, commonly known as food stamps.

Oregon leads the nation in food stamp use. In Lane County, 82,650 people are on food stamps according to October 2012 statistics from the DHS and the SNAP program.

As part of my series, Lauren Lee from KVAL News is participating in the Food Stamp Challenge to live on $31.50 for food for the entire week. That's the average food stamp benefit per individual in the U.S.

The goal: to find out whether or not Lee can be healthy while on food stamps. Is it possible? If so, how difficult is it? The challenge lasts from November 11-17.

Before heading to the grocery store, Lee spoke with nutritionist Dana Baxter from Food For Lane County. She shared a few tips for healthy and smart grocery shopping on a budget.\\

Baxter said you should:

  • Focus on seasonal fruits and vegetables,
  • Shop in the bulk section of the grocery store,
  • Price check two like-items such as chicken, and
  • Buy ingredients instead of pre-made, pre-packaged foods.

She says keeping these tips in mind at the grocery store will help you save money at the register.

With $31.50 to spend, there's a difference between what a shopper wantw versus what a shopper can afford.

For example, red seedless grapes are $1.87 per pound. Sitting right next to the grapes were pears at 96 cents per pound. The pears were a better deal for my money.

As a meat lover, Lee wanted to buy steak or other meats. Baxter had this to say about proteins: "Try to focus on plant based proteins like beans, legumes. You can make soups and chiles out of them. They're very high in fiber which a lot of the animal based proteins are not."

So Lee purchased ingredients for a red lentil soup with pasta, primarily bought in the bulk section. She also purchased ingredients for a chicken soup, all at a low cost.

After picking up a whole chicken, bread, bananas, peanut butter, some vegetables and fruit - it was off to the checkout.

Lee spent a grand total of $21.20, which left her $10 for the rest of the week.

Lauren Lee will be Tweeting and updating my Facebook page all week with updates, photos and more. You can find her at:

Twitter: @LaurenLeeNews and #FoodStampChallenge or #FoodStampState
Facebook: Lauren Lee KVAL