Why Panera's CEO Is Going Hungry

"I'm starving."

I'm pretty sure we've all occasionally aired this complaint between regular meals. But the thing is, some Americans really are starving as we speak. And in an effort to bring attention to their plight, one major corporate CEO has been going hungry this week, and his demonstration makes an important point.

Many consumers aren't aware of it, but Panera (NASDAQ: PNRA  ) has for years been taking this social problem head-on, raising hunger awareness and even helping out. CEO Ron Shaich has put together plenty of bold initiatives, such as five "pay what you want" nonprofit cafes scattered around America. (A recent experiment to serve a pay-what-you-want chili dish in 48 regular restaurants has been discontinued, as many consumers didn't understand that it was part of an antihunger initiative. It's being rethought in order to boost effectiveness.)

Right now, though, Shaich is making an extreme move that few would expect from a CEO: He's walking a week in the shoes of the hungry.

Trading places
Shaich is on a voluntary, week-long challenge to eat on a shockingly small amount of money. His self-imposed rule: to feed himself on $4.50 a day.

This is not just a trendy fast or a bizarre experiment in self-denial. It happens to be Hunger Action Month, and $4.50 per day is the amount Americans receive under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as the food stamp program. Shaich's timing coincides with the House of Representatives' consideration of a $39 billion cut to SNAP funding, which the House approved yesterday. The funding reductions would take place over a 10-year period and make 4 million Americans ineligible for food stamps. [EDITOR'S NOTE: This paragraph has been updated to reflect the House of Representatives' approval yesterday of an overhaul of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.]

Shaich's grocery budget for the entire week is $31.50. While shopping for food, he experienced some of the problems low-income Americans face on a regular basis. For example, as much as he tried to choose healthful foods for his week-long diet, his groceries ended up being high in carbohydrates and devoid of more nutritious and costly items like fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat. Shaich has also been expressing concerns about making such a small amount of food last him through the week.

Food deserts
In some areas of the country, poor Americans lack options. Wonderful do-it-yourself initiatives like community gardens are cropping up, and mom-and-pop markets do exist in low-income areas, but many people can only afford cheap, low-nutrition meals such as fast food and the sorts of grocery store items that basically amount to carbs and sodium in colorful packaging.

Although many people believe companies shouldn't concern themselves with such societal issues, some help out anyway, knowing their profits don't have to come at the expense of people and communities. Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM  ) is entering some areas with limited choices for fresh, natural, and organic foods, and it appears to be embracing communities that many big grocery rivals likely wouldn't take a chance on. So far, it has opened a store in Detroit, and it plans to open one in New Orleans.

These stores will be fashioned for different demographics, and they can also help their communities in other ways. For example, Whole Foods carries items from local businesses. The company has always had philanthropy and community support built into its business. It regularly donates extra food to food banks and shelters (Panera has been known to donate some of its daily bread, too), and several times a year 5% of all Whole Foods sales go to local nonprofits and educational initiatives.

Whole Foods' reputation for philanthropy is almost unmatched, but there's a more under-the-radar company doing its part to combat food shortages: Sealed Air (NYSE: SEE  ) , the manufacturer of iconic Bubble Wrap.

What you may not know about Bubble Wrap
Sealed Air also makes wraps for food to reduce spoilage, which is part of the hunger issue as well. Although much of Sealed Air's campaign against food waste relates to environmental needs, the company's SmartLife initiative takes a holistic approach.

Food waste hurts communities. According to Sealed Air, "The food we waste translates into lost profits for farmers and producers plus higher prices for consumers and reduces food security for those who cannot afford enough to eat."

To take on this problem, Sealed Air is moving toward serious sustainability. Take its Restore Mushroom Packaging, which utilizes the inedible and otherwise unusable parts of agricultural waste to make biodegradable and compostable protective packaging.

(Full disclosure: The shares of each company mentioned in this piece have been purchased for and held in the socially responsible, investing-spirited Prosocial Portfolio I manage for

Some hope to make it, some try to take it
Shaich's personal quest to gain a deeper understanding of what it's like to squeeze a dollar until it screams shows us that at least one CEO isn't hanging out in an ivory tower.

So many Americans -- including investors -- argue about which government programs help or hinder the U.S. economy, but I suspect many don't acknowledge the human side of what it's like to be hungry and struggling. Dining for $4.50 per day puts things into perspective.

Meanwhile, given the looming SNAP decision, let's remember corporate welfare for a moment. In the grand scheme of things, we know that loopholes, subsidies, and other gimmes for favored companies and industries eventually trickle up -- rather, gush up -- to giant paychecks for many CEOs. I doubt many of them know what it's like to eat on a weekly allowance of $31.50.

Shaich's challenge is impressive; the best way to understand the plight of others is to walk in their shoes. There are ways all of us can help, and it's good to know some business leaders and responsible corporate citizens advocate philanthropy -- and an improved economy for Americans at every point on the socioeconomic spectrum.

Check back at for more of Alyce Lomax's columns on environmental, social, and governance issues.

Read/Post Comments (28) | Recommend This Article (32)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2013, at 6:21 PM, Fabin81 wrote:

    If that was me, I'd be at the McDonald's dollar menu. Thats four mcdoubles which would be about 1600 calories per day.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 5:59 PM, rocketman67 wrote:

    If there is a hunger problem in the US then why is there an obesity epidemic in the US?

    Ya can't have it both ways.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 10:08 PM, cowabunga10 wrote:

    Gosh, Rocky - how can some cars be out of gas when so many others have full tanks? Go figure.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 10:17 PM, kathyklok wrote:

    Finally, an article with a conscience in it, not just money talk. It was refreshing, even though it swims in a big sea by itself. I appreciate the stock information, but sometimes I would like to see some information on the other side of the coin for some of these companies.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 11:12 PM, Cheesedale wrote:

    In a nutshell, it's follow your keen intuition: raise awareness, do what's right, and building wealth will follow. It works, and it's encouraging to hear this story. Thanks for reporting all of this Alyce. Your devotion to a cause and writing style grabs me, and makes me want to read to the end! Woohoo!

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 11:12 PM, anasianjew wrote:


    Article is completely disingenuous. Food stamp enrollment has ballooned from nearly 17 million to +47 million in a matter of 5 years. You are delusional if your think somehow Americans are “starving” because you think a “paltry” $200 is the only source of income for food when the primary purpose of the program is to supplement already existing expenditure, not be the primary/only source.

    “Right now, though, Shaich is making an extreme move that few would expect from a CEO: He's walking a week in the shoes of the hungry”. Give me a break…….. Again, to think that a welfare recipient has only $200 to spend on food because the government only supplements $200 is absurd. His time would be better spent in the market generating wealth, providing opportunity and creating value added employment rather than take a week off on some fanciful “feel good” project.

    This individual filmed here seems to be getting along fine with $200 a month and eating quite handsomely doing nothing but partying, drinking and chasing girls. What is shameful is how utterly shameless the individual is at flaunting a clear abuse of the program. To tell me that somehow 47+ Americans currently on food stamps will somehow starve if we cut the expected rate of growth on spending is analysis that cannot be taken seriously.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 11:13 PM, TMFVelvetHammer wrote:


    The issue with obesity is actually tied to food access. A lot of poor communities that are underserved in terms of access to fresh, affordable produce.

    What's available are processed, heavy carb and fat foods. And these foods simultaneously cause obesity and hunger. And lead to higher cancer rates, diabetes, heart disease. I could go on.

    There's a major difference between healthy and calorie intensive. And these unhealthy foods are all calorie intensive.

    You want to fill someone up? Feed them fresh vegetables. All that fiber will leave them satiated, without all the carb calories, plus vitamins and minerals (and lots of other compounds that scientists are learning that our bodies need that can't be found in a multivitamin.)

    We actually do have it both ways. Know your basic food science.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 12:09 AM, malclave wrote:

    "$4.50 per day is the amount Americans receive under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program"

    How did he get to be a CEO without knowing the definition of a simple word like "supplemental"?

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 12:15 AM, anasianjew wrote:


    "$4.50 per day is the amount Americans receive under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program"

    How did he get to be a CEO without knowing the definition of a simple word like "supplemental"?


    He needs to get back to what he knows/understands best: bagels and overpriced sandwiches.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 5:57 AM, charmboy wrote:

    "The issue with obesity is actually tied to food access. A lot of poor communities that are underserved in terms of access to fresh, affordable produce."

    Not True.

    A few years back, in my younger days working for the LAFD, I used to go grocery shopping in South Central LA, (when it was my turn to prepare two meals for the day). Watts was, and is still considered one of the poorest and "Underserved" communities in America.

    The local supermarket had almost every product available to anyone wishing to purchase it. The Produce department was huge. They had practically anything you would ever want to make a healthy meal.

    It is easy to believe any news outlet telling people about the "underserved", and about how they lack this or that. In my six years in SCLA, I found out for myself that it is nothing more than a fiction, a myth.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 9:48 AM, TMFLomax wrote:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I appreciate that some of you share my admiration of what Shaich was trying to understand, and in a personal way.

    I see that many people think his demonstration is "disingenuous," and argue about people who don't "need" the assistance. I am quite sure that there are people who try to abuse or exploit the system, but then again, focusing on that feels like ideology to me, especially given the current macroeconomic climate.

    The House has passed the bill to cut the funding, despite the fact that for all the talk of "economic recovery," a massive amount of Americans are still unemployed or underemployed. Some have given up looking for work because they couldn't find it, and therefore aren't showing up in the jobless numbers. Whatever this "recovery" is, it is leaving a lot of people behind.

    Anyone who's been underemployed can likely remember what it's like to scrap by paycheck to paycheck, and I can imagine for many the income isn't going to get them far.

    Recent quarterly results from Wal-Mart included a familiar refrain. That its core customers (low-income) aren't spending much because they are worried about the costs of gas, energy, and FOOD. Those are basics. Target repeated a similar theme.

    Like I said, sure I believe some people may exploit assistance like this. However, I also think that assuming that *everyone* does, or that *most* do, is ideology, not reality. And particularly at a time when one can go out and see a lot of people who have been left out of the recovery (i.e., we are not in a time of overall prosperity right now), the timing for cutting the program is particularly ugly. (Meanwhile, like I mentioned at the end of the article, corporate welfare is out there too, and somehow few seem to think that's so outrageous.)

    Shaich's move is one of trying to understand what it's like to eat in America with very little money, and I think that it's a point that should be well taken. Also, since he made the news with this, it likely reminded some of us to call our representatives to share our feelings about it -- a different important kind of awareness in itself.



  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 11:00 AM, dmiles2 wrote:

    The headline IS disingenuous. $31.50 is NOT paltry. It is not living in the lap of luxury, but it is not much less than we spend VOLUNTARILY per person in my family.

    IF you are willing to cook your own food and don't have to have steak for dinner and bacon with your eggs all the time, you can do fairly well on $31.50 per week.

    I stopped by my local market on my way home last night after reading this. I wrote down some prices (NOT the sales prices). One could substitute rice or pasta for potatoes and occasionally get chicken instead of beef, but I didn't take the time to price all of that. Again, not fancy, but NOT EVEN CLOSE to going hungry.

    Breakfast (every day)

    an egg

    8 oz orange juice

    2 slices of toast with margarine

    8oz serving of milk


    PB and J sandwich every day

    8oz milk

    apple, 1/4 lb grapes or banana 4 days

    yogurt 3 days


    a potato every night

    1/4 lb of hamburger every day

    half an onion for the hamburger

    broccoli or carrots every day

    apple, grapes or banana every day


    3 more PBJ's with milk

    If you bother to just pay some attention to sales, you can obviously do better. AND you can get more variety without spending more IF you are willing to do it.

    Yeah, it's not what most of us are used to, but you don't expect me to support someone else at a level better than my own, do you? This should be TEMPORARY assistance.

    We ate just about like this for a year so we could save the money for a down payment on a 4-plex. And my lunches are usually still less than I allowed here (part of the reason I'm 60 and not fat).

    And as one other poster pointed out, the SNAP program is NOT the only source of food for these people. So cry me a bucket.

    The government should NOT be feeding people AT ALL.

    P.S. Since someone will call me callous, you should know that I donate over $300 a month to a non-profit charity and EVERY CENT goes to helping people who need TEMPORARY assistance. Their overhead costs are covered in other ways (to which I also contribute).

    So don't give me a hard time about being hardhearted. How much do you donate? And how much of it gets sucked up by bureaucrats like happens at the United Way?

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 11:07 AM, dmiles2 wrote:

    Too bad the MF website does not display posts the way they show up in this window. I tried to format mine so it would not take up so much room, but I can't control the website formatting.

    Your IT guys could take out the extra line feed with every carriage return. That's how it works in the comment window.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 11:39 AM, Domeyrock wrote:

    Go watch "Supersize Me" by Morgan Spurlock and see what happens to someone who lives on cheap processed crap food everyday. That guy nearly died, if he wasn't throwing up in his car in the parking lot. Not all calories consumed are created equal! This is pretty much common knowledge now, c'mon people.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 11:48 AM, TMFLomax wrote:


    I admire your thrift. I'm sure many Americans can do better if they learn to budget. I highly admire people who work hard and pull themselves out by their bootstraps. I've seen many amazing success stories and I have seen testimonials from people who have been greatly helped by the advice given right here at The Motley Fool.

    I've had experiences in my life where things weren't easy, before I worked for the Fool. I've been unemployed and underemployed. I've had times of scrounging. I never took public assistance (and that was a bit of a "stunt" myself due to my own ideology at the time, on a small scale). Let's just say it wasn't particularly good for my long-term finances though. Maybe I could have been better at budgeting, but it's not like my article is coming from someone who doesn't at least remotely understand how things might be for many people. (And I know some people have it far worse than I ever did. I did have help from family when possible.)

    I do donate when I can to shelters and organizations that help feed the hungry and get them back on their feet. (I use Charity Navigator to make sure the funds are mostly used for actual help, not for tons of overhead and huge paychecks for those at the top.) I have started trying to help make lunches for the homeless at a local shelter through our Foolanthropy project so that I can DO something.

    On the macro level I have seen two grocery stores where I live (I have low-income housing near me) that were formerly walkable for people, both closed down. Both these stores weren't the nicest stores but definitely stocked basics.

    I've also seen the day which appeared to be the foodstamp day, a local grocery store swamped with people with full carts like it was a major holiday or a snowstorm or hurricane was coming. I realized later what that probably was. The lines were long. Like I said, many people are in trouble right now. Maybe they're not all starving to death, but maybe they wouldn't be making ends meet at all otherwise. In the DC area many people need gas for commuting.

    One of the checkers at one of the stores that closed near me told me that their workers were getting offers to get placed at other stores, but many really couldn't take up the commute and make it financially viable.

    I totally see your points about what we can voluntarily do to reduce our costs and I do believe in voluntary help. Obviously the companies cited in my article are capitalism, but I believe it's capitalism at its best, and they are using some of their profits and resources to help others or try to solve social problems. However, again, with the economy being how it is right now, I do wonder if there is really only so much we can voluntarily do for the large number of people who are trying to get by.

    Sorry this is long, but I don't feel like I'm living in an ivory tower about this, or one of the people who talks about what others should do and don't try to help others on a voluntary basis.



  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 11:50 AM, MfromG wrote:

    The local Panera Bread just went toes up. No one ever had much good to say about it. Now McAllisters Deli, lots of fans of that place.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 11:59 AM, Skepticofdogma wrote:


    Thanks for the interesting article. Be careful with using the word "starve," though. It actually means extreme lack of caloric intake, i.e., actual deprivation of food. You would be hard-pressed to find true starvation in the USA. As someone pointed out earlier, the poor in the USA suffer from morbid obesity, not starvation. If an obese person goes to bed hungry, tragic as that may be, it is not starvation.

    I also find Mr. Shaich's motives disingenuous. Nutricious (and delicious) meals are actually quite affordable. This is lacking in many Americans' lifestyle because of:

    1. Lack of education about the benefits of cooking your own meals.

    2. The easy availability of fast food ("junk food" or healthier fare like Panera) which is never as good a financial deal as buying and cooking one's own food.

    Mr. Shaich would actually do much more good by using his platform to encourage people to buy and cook their own healthy fare, and encouraging them to resist eating out.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 12:05 PM, adamdn wrote:


    I am all for doing the right thing and feeding the hungry is the right thing, however, your message has been distracted by your political activism. Take my comments with a grain of salt but I honestly believe that your message would have been so much more powerful, effective, and meaningful if you did not invoke a highly charged and partisan political vote.

    I happen to agree with raising awareness and I personally donate money each month to people in need in my local community. I am all for people, communities, and businesses doing the same. But I think it is dangerous to have the federal government take on that role and to force people to pay into it and to decide how the money will be paid out (that is was SNAP effectively does but it is even worse because we are borrowing money from future generations to do it, aka Generational Theft).

    First, if it is the federal government's responsibility to feed everyone, that road can easily take us down the path of socialism. We do not want a government that commands and controls the economy and the distribution of goods and services. Nor do we want a government that devalues the human soul by making people dependent on its handouts. Second, it creates a system of waste. I believe that problems should be handled at the lowest possible level and the message of your article could have promoted that by focusing on what companies like Panera and Whole Foods and yes, even Walmart and Target are doing to raise awareness and to solve some of the problems in the communities where they operate.

    I want to also point out that this vote to reduce spending would take place over the next 10 years. I don't understand how this is so "ugly" to you. Do you not believe that the economy will recover sufficiently to put the unemployed and underemployed back to work 10 years from now? Another way to look at the vote is as a sign of hope that Congress now believes that things will be better 10 years from now and people will not need as much assistence. I'm not sure why you chose to look at it the other way or why you chose to included it in your article at all.

    Lastly, in one of your comments you accuse other commentators of focusing on ideology, which gives the impression that your article did not focus on ideology. I will refer you back to my openning sentence because the ideology came from your article when you tried to inject your personal political activism by taking a jab at the House of Representatives vote to reduce SNAP funding. Had you not included that, this entire thread would have been so different. I think you blew a great opportunity and instead invoked politcal emotions from the readers and your message got derailed.

    My suggestion is to keep political overtones out of your articles. I like TMF because it is not MSNBA or CNN or Fox. This article felt like it should have been on one of those websites and not here.

    Take it for what it's worth.



  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 1:30 PM, damilkman wrote:

    A few comments. First I agree with the author that part of the problem is access. But it is also education. As the poster from LA pointed out good food is ignored and many poor people eat like children. Then again my well off friends who are overweight and unhealthy also eat like children. They eat entire bags of snack foods for lunch, graze on sweets and drink infinite quantities of soft drink. Poor is not how much money you have. It is an attitude and a way of life.

    I did my own experiment via COSTCO. I gave myself 200 dollars to stock a pantry and then 100 dollars a month for each succeeding month. That is way less then 4.50 a day. If I can shop at COSTCO I can live really well. There was more then enough funds for special restrictions and some treats. I had not problems getting in season vegies & fruits in the budget. Here is what you cannot do.

    The following items BREAK THE BUDGET!!!! Even at COSTCO snack foods, junk foods, soda, alcohol, and ciggies destroy any attempt at a budget.

    When you live on the COSTCO budget your not going to live like a king. But your going to be well fed. Since you are buying in bulk you lose a little diversity. I had 3-4 different kinds of breakfast's, 6-8 lunches, and 6-8 dinners. I had to buy in season to get my fruit/veggies. But with hot houses and the southern hemisphere I was still had room to treat myself. Steak is off the menu other then a once a month treat. There is a fair amount of canned goods. But were talking about doing okay not living like the rich. At the end I could say it was a healthy diet. There was even some room for changing the primary grain. If you wanted to go cashew instead of rice/wheat it could be done.

    In summary the author is right in that there is not a COSTCO by everyone. But I would also say that even given the chance to eat this kind of food many poor would not make the choices I did. I am sure some do. But I know there are a lot that only want the snack food.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 1:41 PM, Ryan6236 wrote:

    I just spent my weekly $31.00 on pizza..ooops

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 1:56 PM, dmiles2 wrote:


    You seem to doubt that private efforts to help the poor would be adequate. You forget that when government steps in, it pushes private efforts out.

    At the turn of the 1900's, credit unions started to provide financial services for poor people. Fortunately, they survived in spite of the significant efforts that banks made (and still make) to thwart them and even get rid of them.

    A hundred years ago, there were medical lodges that poor (and not so poor) people could join for a low, nominal fee each week or month. If they got sick, the lodge's salaried doctor would visit their homes and provide care. Unfortunately, medical lodges pretty much got shut down by the insurance industry.

    A hundred years ago, my grandfather was put in a private orphanage. I have read his memoirs and I have been a foster parent with the state, and my grandfather was at least as well taken care of (and in some ways much better) than what I saw with DCFS.

    Even the insurance industry backs out when the government interferes with them. Why do you think flood insurance is pretty much non-existent, especially for Malibu and New Orleans? Uncle Sam offers insurance at rates that would put any company in bankruptcy.

    When taxes got lowered in the '80's, donations to charity went up. I believe it was mostly because people don't like to be forced to "give" through their taxes and when taxes went down they not only had more take-home but felt the PERSONAL obligation more.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 3:45 PM, TMFLomax wrote:

    Thanks for the continued comments. I see people feel extremely strongly and I actually do understand the points many of you are trying to make generally (obviously not on the food stamp issue itself). I'm listening whether or not we all entirely agree on this. It's quite a debate.

    I've already probably gone on and on too much, but I'm registered independent and can't even imagine registering with either party. I can't not respond to the "political activist" assumption.

    dmiles2, I think it's great that you have been a foster parent. I have seen another comment from one of our community members disagreeing with similar things about Shaich's premise who also has fostered children. One thing I can say is that the people who are willing to be good, kind foster parents are wonderful.



  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 8:56 PM, malclave wrote:


    I have no doubt that some people in the country are struggling, and some really need help.

    My issue with this stunt is that people doing this are ignoring the fact that SNAP is only of the programs available to help people. If a person is on disability, for example, is there some rule that ONLY the SNAP money can be used for food, and not any other aid coming in?

    If the people engaging in this stunt want to actually be realistic, and spend a month living on the amount of federal and state aid a person in that situation would receive (perhaps augmented by private charities like food banks or the Salvation Army), then that might be worth listening to.

    But spending a week on a tight budget? Reminds me of the last couple of weeks of the semester in college, when the financial aid money was running out: lettuce with generic mayonnaise for salad dressing, ramen noodles, and grilled processed food slice sandwiches (the word "cheese" did not appear on the packaging).

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 11:17 PM, vo311com wrote:

    This article really opened my eyes. Although it is very unfortunate that those at the bottom end of the totem pole face various hardships, there are definitely two sides to the story as well. I just hope Congress can come up with a balance solution that we can all agree on. On a side note, $4.50 is way too little for anyone to survive on for a day. I'm going to take action myself and start cutting back on my eating-out too :)

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 8:51 AM, matthewluke wrote:

    "his groceries ended up being high in carbohydrates"

    So like the food at his restaurants? Haha.

    Really though. Has anybody looked at the Panera Bread nutrition caculator? Man that is a lot of carbs. Not too surprising since "bread" is in the name of the restaurant, but still.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 10:19 AM, WD562 wrote:

    SNAP rightly contains the word "supplemental" in it's title. It has never been intended as the only source of food for people on the program and, for most, it is not. The Panera CEO experiment is apples to the oranges of reality in my view. Many people that draw SNAP also earn income that, many argue, should be enough to take care of food needs with budgeting, planning, and making wise choices (such as not eating out, buying expensive snack foods, consuming too many calories, etc.). It is difficult to believe that all SNAP recipients actually need the help when I frequently see some of them pay for some items at the store with SNAP and then pay separately for alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, and other items separately (and that cannot be bought with

    SNAP. Some need the SNAP assistance but I think many do not. Tightening is warranted in my view.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2013, at 6:29 PM, Blackthorn wrote:


    Thank you for your effort. You bravely put yourself in the path of a buzz saw. The comments were for the most part a sincere expression of the position held by the presenters.

    In my (thank God) long life the opportunity to experience our society at virtually every level has been most enlightening and sometimes scary. Many "haves" sincerely believe that the less fortunate can be better served, at less expense by the good intentions of the greater society. Unfortunately that didn't work a 100 yrs ago and is less apt to do any better in today's insular communities.

    I read recently that the largest portion of the Federal expenditure for public housing goes to pay the salaries and benefits of those charged with the administration of the programs. I would suggest that this is also true of the various food programs. Who therefore is actually the beneficiary of our tax contribution supporting the needy?

  • Report this Comment On September 23, 2013, at 10:12 AM, TMFLomax wrote:


    Thanks for acknowledging the buzz saw. ;) You're right, there is often waste and even enrichment of the few with some of these programs (I commented above that I use Charity Navigator to help me figure out which private organizations best use their donations without paying for outrageous costs like marketing and administrators' salaries etc., and I'd say it's similar in so many parts of our society).

    A lot of things need overhauls and of course one of those things is actually when the system is intrinsically wasteful. These are definitely problems to be solved. (Although I think our government actually wastes a lot on a lot of other things that are less desirable or reasonable than this.)

    WD562, also agreed that there are people who take advantage of the system and yes, those expenditures shouldn't be allowed to those using assistance. I'm certainly not in favor of exploiting the system or the kindness of others in any way.

    Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. It has been a very interesting conversation about the issues at hand here.



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