Placing Restrictions

The repetitive nature of my meals this week is getting to me by now. I will be very glad to not see oatmeal for a while after the challenge. It’s also been difficult being the only one from my house taking the challenge this week. It’s hard to come home and see my family eating some of my favorite home cooked meals (tuna and shrimp ceviche this week) while I have lentils and rice and pasta with sausage again. I’ve also been craving ice cream. Nothing major, but I do think that there is something about having a restricted food budget that makes you obsesses about what you’re eating, what you wish you were eating, and how much you resent not being able to eat it.

The only restriction this week to indulging on snacks is the limitation of my budget this week but it also reminds me of the debates about what SNAP recipients can and should use their benefits for. As it stands right now, CalFresh recipient can purchase food and seeds meant for human consumption. They cannot purchase any alcohol, tobacco, or hot and prepared meals (San Diego County is one of seven counties in California that allow eligible homeless, disabled, and individuals over 60 to use their CalFresh benefits at participating restaurants).

However, the debate of restricting what CalFresh recipients is, unfortunately, an old story. Missouri’s been attempting to ban recipients from buying seafood and steak, Maine is attempting to prevent recipients from purchasing junk food, Wisconsin wants to regulate what is purchased by recipients. These restrictions on CalFresh recipients are part of a larger move to place higher restrictions on low income individuals overall. While the feasibility of these initiatives is doubtful, they highlight a very real perception we have in the US that the poor have it too easy. That the poor should be suffering. That poor people are actively choosing junk food over nutritious meals and that the best way to encourage better nutrition for low income individuals is by policing their behavior.

Given this rhetoric, it’s not surprising that not all eligible individuals apply for benefits.