The Food Stamp Challenge: Eating on Four Dollars a Day


Katie Hoeber is a student at San Francisco State University working on her Masters in Public Health Nursing.

As a project for her Community Nursing class, Katie is spending a week living off four dollars a day — the equivalent value of an average day’s worth of food stamps.

Unlike the hipsters living on food stamps featured in last year’s article “Hipsters on Food Stamps” — who used their food stamps to buy organic rabbit, raw honey, fresh squeezed juices and gourmet ice cream at their local Whole Foods — Katie has limited her fare to include only things she can buy within walking distance of her West Oakland home — which basically means the
local dollar store.

She explains on her blog: “Many people (on food stamps) do not drive a fancy little Prius as I do and don’t have the resources to clip coupons and drive all over town for sales. So for 1 week, I am living off of $4.00 a day for all food and drink and only purchasing my
groceries in West Oakland, at stores that are walking distance for a person with disabilities.”

Like many folks on food stamps, Katie does has a physical disability, one that forces her to walk with a cane.  Unlike the vast majority of people on food stamps, however, Katie’s foray into $4-a-day eating is by choice, not necessity.

Follow Katie’s blog, which she calls “a way for me to record the experience and share the realities of hunger in America with others,” as she lives a week on $4 a day.

Kevin Hobson is a writer of fiction, essays, nonfiction, songs, music reviews, and industrial copy about chocolate. His stories have appeared in several journals and magazines, most recently Instant City. His is also co-curator and co-editor of BANG OUT Reading Series and Online Journal. Kevin lives in San Francisco's Mission District, where he enjoys his chronic addictions to burritos and internet television. More from this author →