Food Auctions Food Buying Cooperatives Food Pantries and EBT Cards

This is the third article researching alternative ways to save money on food. This information is needed now more than ever before because food prices are still soaring. Early 2012 consumers were informed that peanut butter prices would reach an all time high. The increased cost of food staples such as milk, eggs, and peanut butter are choking the budget of the average family. High unemployment, and the under-employed means the food budget is stretched to the point of giving way.

Food Buying Cooperatives, Food Pantries and SNAP (The old Food Stamp arrangement) are being touted as helpful alternatives and potential money savers. Food Auctions and Surplus Discount Grocery Stores have already been discussed yet it is still necessary to keep searching for alternatives to traditional grocery stores, in order to stretch food dollars as far as they can stretch.

If you have been working tirelessly to feed your family although you have no sustainable income source, you don't need to be told what an impossible task seems to lay before you.

The unemployed, under-employed, newly released convicted felons, and senior citizens, struggles every day to provide enough food for themselves and their loved ones. It is no longer necessary to look outside of this country to find under-fed adults and children. The current economic situation has dumped hunger right here in our own backyard..

NJ's EBT Card. (Electronic Benefits Transfer Card) Taking the place of food stamps.
NJ's EBT Card. (Electronic Benefits Transfer Card) Taking the place of food stamps.

The Federal Government Revamps Food Stamps

As of June 17, 2009, paper coupons will no longer be used by the at least 31.8 million people now enrolled in the SNAP program. (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) At the time of this writing 1 out of 9 US citizens were using this program to obtain food

Gone is the infamous Federal Food Stamp Program and all its negative connotations.In its place is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Each State takes care of its own program. New Jersey has named its card, Families First. The EBT card (Electronic Benefits Transfer) allows a predetermined amount of money to be deducted from an account, much like the traditional bank debit card.

A new name, a new face and a new attitude about offering and receiving temporary help through these tough economic times, seems to have taken place since the new administrator, Julie Paradis assumed the helm.

The policy statement of the FNS is, "No one should go hungry in America"

To that end back in April, 2009 the allotment for a typical family of four increased and those who were in line to receive financial help would no longer have to use the old paper food stamps. Officially the paper food stamps were no longer accepted after June 17, 2009.

SNAP CAN BE A VALUABLE RESOURCE

With the old stigma of the food stamp program a thing of the past, families can now use the SNAP program with pride and dignity. A small debit card, is all a family needs to obtain quality food at discount prices. Each State has its own enrollment program, engineered to make the process quick and easy. More and more stores now accept the EBT cards which means diversity and freedom of choice is more abundant and available than ever before.

Wage earners who have been laid-off or fired all together, need access to a reliable source to feed their family. A head of a family, single-parent or otherwise, needs to be able to use whatever unemployment compensation they receive to keep a roof over the family's head and to pay the utilities. If the small unemployment check must also provide food for the family, quality goes out the door as families seek mainly survival rations that are cheap and filling.

Parents and educators know that children need more nutrition and less junk in their diets. They cannot learn and conduct themselves presentably if they are hungry or cranky or malnourished. Even if a parent's pride must be swallowed, it is a small price to pay to make sure your child has the food they need to grow and prosper.

Single adults are also included in this program. A realistic amount is provided for anyone over 18 years of age who is not working or whose wages do not leave enough money for an adequate supply of food.

Qualifying for SNAP

You can follow the links provided to get the help you deserve for your family. Right now the gross income (before deductions) for a family of 4 is $2,297. For most people trying to survive on unemployment, this is a very easy threshold to meet. There are other factors to consider, which can easily reduce that threshold and show that you easily qualify. By clicking on the links that apply to you, or calling the local office for assistance, you can get the ball rolling and get the food your family needs.

Use EBT Card at Farmer's Market or Food Auctions

As you will discover, many retailers now accept the SNAP EBT card for food purchases. Big bulk retailers like Costco and BJ's accept the card. Local surplus grocery stores accept the card and some growing food cooperatives have been allowed to accept the card from customers as well. Farmers markets are also now accepting EBT cards.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear food auctions accept the card as widely as other retail sources. Many auctioneers want to accept EBT because they realize the unemployment rate and the needs of single-parent families would truly benefit from the price savings.

A recent Google search reveals a food auction in Richmond, IN which now excepts EBT purchases. Indiana and Ohio residents might find his auction worth attending.Karanovich Auction Service is now at your service.

Food Buying Cooperatives

New among the list of alternative grocery sources is the Food Buying Cooperative. These cooperatives buy in bulk, paying a discounted amount and then distribute their low cost, high value food packages to SNAP or other low income people.

Food Boxes

These food packages, called Food Boxes can actually be ordered 1-2 weeks in advance. The delivery and requests for the boxes are often handled by not-for-profit organizations.

The contents of these boxes can include

  • Meat, produce, sides and dessert.
  • Meat only boxex
  • Produce only boxes
  • Special boxes
  • Food boxes can also include both fresh and frozen foods.
  • Recipes are provided with the boxes to make meals healthy and nutritious

SNAP's involvement with these food boxes enables the agency to add to a family's food budget so that they don't have to give up nutritious food when times are tough.

What You Give In Return

In the true meaning of the word "cooperative". A family seeking the help of a cooperative, agrees to volunteer in order to "pay" for the food they receive. Typically 2 hours of volunteering is all that is required.

The ability to give and receive, makes this program work.

The 2 useful links provided in the blue box include a local search for coops in the NJ, PA, DE areas and many links within the link of how the coops are run, the menus available and the work given in return. You will also find the other link helpful in searching for food banks outside the tri-state area. 

While it takes time to read the information. It will be time well spent as you formulate your plan to provide as much nutritious food as possible for your family, with whatever help is available from the public and private sectors.

Food Pantries

A food pantry is the last of the 3 to be discussed. Basically, all food pantries are totally free of charge. They are stocked in various ways and are especially appreciated by families who run out of food with a week or so to go before they receive their next unemployment check or food allotment.

The folks who visit pantries vary in circumstance but they all have one thing in common, they don't have enough food to make it.

Even if we never use a food pantry, knowing they are more numerous now then ever before and also more needed now than ever before, might make us remember to donate to our local pantry when we do our weekly shopping. Stables are usually the most stocked item and naturally are the least available when there is a high local unemployment rate.

Kind and generous hearted people run these pantries, so if you are ever in need, they will treat you with respect and dignity and try to provide you with enough to get by.

Local pantries are easily found by doing a google search or by observing your neighborhood. Of course word of mouth is a good source as well.

Your Comments and Suggestions?

This wraps up another article in our endless search for quality food shopping alternatives. We've built up quite a list now. The well known choices of coupons/sales/discount/bulk buying are obvious. We've added food auctions and surplus discount grocery stores to that list, and now we have the SNAP program, food cooperatives and food pantries in place.

What will we discover next? Hopefully there are still more ways to get good food at reasonable prices, especially if you are out of work, or working only part time hours.

If you would like to suggest a tip or you know of a new place of interest, please feel free to leave a comment so that it can be added to this article. If you have any updates or see any items that need to be corrected, please feel free to say so. If this article isn't accurate, it isn't helpful, which is the main goal and purpose.

Check back for updates because the search never ends . . .

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7 comments

Gary 7 years ago

AmpleHarvest.org is a national campaign to diminish hunger by enabling backyard (patio-rooftop-kitchen too) gardeners to share their bounty with neighborhood food pantries.

The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

More than 1,100 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

It has received backing from the USDA, Google, many faith and service organizations, bloggers, writers, etc.

We need your help.

If you are a gardener with extra produce, please use the site to share what you wish with a community pantry.

If you belong to a house of worship that hosts a food pantry/bank/shelf, please let them know about AmpleHarvest.org and encourage them to register on the site (remind them it is free).

Please print the flier at http://www.ampleharvest.org/InformingTheGardener.p... and ask your local nursery/gardenshop etc. to post it in a conspicuous location. You can also post it on the bulletin board of your local supermarket and library.

Lastly, please email/call/Tweet your friends around the country and let them know about AmpleHarvest.org.

AmpleHarvest.org enables people to help their community by reaching into their backyard instead of their back pocket.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware Author

Hi esllr, I know about ebates. I joined some time ago but didn't know about fatwallet.com. 2 good on-line sources, thanks.

The Sharing Center and Harvest Town in Orlando sound like good places to go. Thanks so much for letting us know about them.

~Jen


esllr profile image

esllr 7 years ago

Great Job Jen, You are a blessing . I just wanted to offer that www.ebates.com and www.fatwallet.com will save you up to 80% off on items that are bought from Walmart and our other money saving stores . Plus will send you 4 rebate checks a year from your shopping. They also have down loadable coupons.

In Orlando, Florida we have the Sharing Center on michigan ave and Sanford, Florida there is Harvest Town on hwy 46. They allow you to shop pennies on the dollar on household,beauty items and food!


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware Author

Thank you Connie, I think you were living it up in Florida when this came out. LOL Thanks for the first hand experience about how helpful places like these are.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

How did I miss this one, Jen? We used to get Share food when I ran an assisted living facility for mental health residents (unfortunately, no food stamps). The ALFs like this one have very little money to work with as all the resident were poor, though it was a for-profit place, but very little profit! Using Share provided some of our produce and a nice mix of meat and other items. We picked up our items at a church once a month. The volunteers there were amazing. It is a lot of work to distribute all that food. It is a great program for those people who are struggling to provide for their families. I'm so glad that you have brought it to the attention of the public. Good going!


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware Author

Thanks dawei888, I hope so too. :)


dawei888 profile image

dawei888 7 years ago

Hi Jen - Interesting article about SNAP alternatives to traditional grocery shopping. It's incredible to think that hunger has become such a growing issue in the rich USA. I'm sure your article will fall on the right eyes that need to read it and some hungry kids will get their supper. Thanks, -dawei888 :-)

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