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Because Hot Chicken is a Privilege, Not a Right

Updated on May 3, 2016

You Are Not Allowed to Buy This Chicken!!

Hot chicken is too good for the poor.
Hot chicken is too good for the poor. | Source

I have never been judgmental of people on food assistance, but I also never knew how ridiculous the rules are until I started on SNAP myself.

There are many, many things you can't buy on food assistance because .... well, because even though they might be a necessity, they're not food. Things like:

  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrushes
  • Feminine Products
  • Soap
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Dishwashing Detergent

I miss making beer bread and adding beer to chili, but I can go without until we get back on our feet. I understand why alcohol isn't allowed.

But I just don't get this: Not being able to buy hot prepared food. I can buy cold prepared food just fine with my SNAP benefits ... but not hot prepared food.

Buy This Chicken Instead

This cold chicken that *might be from yesterday (although there is a good chance this clucker was on the same rotisserie at the same time as the hot chicken.
This cold chicken that *might be from yesterday (although there is a good chance this clucker was on the same rotisserie at the same time as the hot chicken. | Source

My new book, Plastiline, now available on Amazon!

I'll be honest: I'd like to be able to buy hot prepared food sometimes - in a grocery store! - because sometimes it has been a long day and I don't really feel like cooking. It would be nice to grab something out of the hot case and bring it home and just eat. Don't have to start up the oven. Don't have to dirty any pans. A minimum of dishes, and throw out the package it came in.

For me, it's about convenience.

For others, this is cold and processed food purgatory.

And that's the irony! All people on food assistance can fill up their carts with as much junk food as they want, as long as they're willing to eat it at room temperature. But what about the homeless? Those people living near the river in a tent. Those people living in dumpy hotel rooms.

Yeah, I suppose you're right. That homeless guy could start a small fire to heat up his food (and risk being arrested); that person living in the hotel room might have access to a microwave ... somewhere, somehow.

So what are they complaining about, right?

... do you hear yourself?

Things People Are Allowed to Buy with SNAP Benefits

So what I'm not looking to do is inspire some politician to take away the ability to buy these foods.

What I am trying to point out is the absurdity of not allowing people on assistance to buy, say, a bag of hot potato wedges for about $3, when they can buy the items below. It makes no sense that the state can't shell out $1.50 for a hot corn dog for a person who may not have access to an oven or microwave, but it willingly doles out money for:

Ridiculously overpriced candy ...

Basically a package of 5 peanut butter cups for $15.
Basically a package of 5 peanut butter cups for $15. | Source

Sprouting brussels sprouts ...

Yes, those are brussels sprouts, and the weight of the stalk goes towards the price.
Yes, those are brussels sprouts, and the weight of the stalk goes towards the price. | Source

Natural maple syrup ...

My family could use up the whole bottle in 2-3 pancake breakfasts.
My family could use up the whole bottle in 2-3 pancake breakfasts. | Source

Deliciously expensive vinegar ...

Buying these items would seriously cut into our food budget ...
Buying these items would seriously cut into our food budget ... | Source
... but if I could afford them, I would buy them.
... but if I could afford them, I would buy them. | Source

This drink mix ...

Dreaming of the days when I could still afford to buy alcohol.
Dreaming of the days when I could still afford to buy alcohol. | Source

Olive oil trumps them all ...

Only $40 a bottle?  Must be mid-grade.
Only $40 a bottle? Must be mid-grade. | Source
This would be so good with some crispy French bread.
This would be so good with some crispy French bread. | Source
It's on sale!!
It's on sale!! | Source

I have no idea what this is, but I am allowed to purchase it with my SNAP benefits ...

Ok, the sign said it's a Hand of Buddha fruit .... but how do you eat it?
Ok, the sign said it's a Hand of Buddha fruit .... but how do you eat it? | Source

But They Have No Issue with You Buying This Junk Food

This is totally fine, though, because we don't want to make General Mills angry.
This is totally fine, though, because we don't want to make General Mills angry. | Source

This is what makes me most angry, though: We are allowed to pay more to buy frozen junk food.

A big bag of Totino's Pizza Rolls is $9. That is a dollar more than the hot chicken. The hot chicken that is wholesome food as opposed to the (albeit delicious) Frankenfood in the Pizza Rolls.

Don't think about the electricity I have to consume to cook them, or the electricity and water I have to use to clean up later. No, just worry that it is a hot chicken, and that hot chicken is the "gateway drug" to me being food stamps forever.

And that's the real fear, isn't it? That if people are allowed to buy hot food, they'll never go off food stamps. It makes sense, right? You wouldn't want to enable that family living in one small hotel room by giving them hot food, right?

If they need hot food that bad, after all, they could go to a church for the once-a-month dinner, right?

What does this say about America, that we withhold hot food from the people who need it the most.

Comments

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    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      2 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I think it has something to do with the hot chicken being in the category of "prepared" food. Like food at a restaurant. It's like, you can buy meat from the deli, and all of the stuff needed to make a sandwich, but not a sandwich.

      It's a technicality. Not very convenient, but this is the kind of red tape you have to put up with when dealing with a government agency.

    • Chase Whitfield profile image

      Chase Whitfield 

      2 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Cold pizza rolls are actually pretty good. =)

      This is just another example of how these "one-size-fits-all" programs end up becoming bureaucratic nightmares, and why they should be run and administered at the local city/county level.

    • Brynn Thorssen profile imageAUTHOR

      Carrie Peterson 

      2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO

      Well except between the hot chicken and the cold chicken.

      And I'm far from being a super healthy eater, but Pizza Rolls have a lot of weird unnecessary ingredients, considering it should just be dough, sauce and maybe cheese and pepperoni.

      And if you don't have a place to cook them ... lol, have you ever eaten cold Pizza Rolls?? {belch!!}

    • Chase Whitfield profile image

      Chase Whitfield 

      2 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Just from an Economic point of view: the Chicken has a per serving cost that's nearly three times more expensive than the Pizza Rolls.

      The Chicken: Serving size 3oz. - Servings per chicken: About 4 - Price: $7 -Price Per Serving: $1.75

      The Pizza Rolls: Serving Size: 6 rolls - Servings per Package: 15 - Price: $9 - Price Per Serving: $.60

      So while I agree that it's pretty silly, there is at least some method to the madness.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      So much silliness in the world.

      An eye opening article.

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