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  #1  
Old 02-27-2013, 05:23 PM
EmilyG EmilyG is offline
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Dollar-store food for the homeless - good or bad?

Downtown, there are many homeless people. Sometimes if I go to a dollar store downtown, I'll buy some food there and give it to nearby homeless people.

Considering that the quality of dollar-store food may not be as good as food elsewhere, is it a bad thing to give dollar-store food to the homeless? Or is it good that the homeless people are getting any food at all?
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  #2  
Old 02-27-2013, 05:44 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Homeless people can and often do receive food stamps. They also usually know where all the free soup kitchens are. While I'm sure they appriciate food you might consider other items they'd appreciate. For example: socks, toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, soap, hand cream, lip balm, gloves, hats...

In fact, you might ask them: "Hey, I'm going into the dollar store, is there something I can pick up for you while I'm there? Can only spare X bucks, what do you need?" They might still ask for food, but at least your chances of giving them what they really need at that moment will be increased.
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Old 02-27-2013, 05:52 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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They have access to lots of food, trust me. But soft, easy to chew, pre-packaged food that doesn’t have to be cooked isn’t a bad idea.

If you really want to make them happy- socks. They never get enough socks.
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  #4  
Old 02-27-2013, 06:54 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Socks, toilet paper, tampons/pads, deodorant, toothpaste, denture cream, hand sanitizer, pet food.

Last edited by WhyNot; 02-27-2013 at 06:55 PM..
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  #5  
Old 02-27-2013, 07:09 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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If you really want to make them happy- socks.
Master has given Dobby a sock. Dobby is free!
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  #6  
Old 02-27-2013, 08:21 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
Socks, toilet paper, tampons/pads, deodorant, toothpaste, denture cream, hand sanitizer, pet food.
I always had the idea that McDonalds gift certificates are a good thing to give away. It's cheap food, but it also gives them the right to hang out at a warm clean-ish McDonalds for an hour or two.
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  #7  
Old 02-27-2013, 09:03 PM
bump bump is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
I always had the idea that McDonalds gift certificates are a good thing to give away. It's cheap food, but it also gives them the right to hang out at a warm clean-ish McDonalds for an hour or two.
Fuck that. Nobody wants stank-ass bums hanging around in an otherwise clean-ish restaurant where people may bring families, and otherwise bathed, non-reeking people aren't usually at.
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  #8  
Old 02-27-2013, 11:10 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
Fuck that. Nobody wants stank-ass bums hanging around in an otherwise clean-ish restaurant where people may bring families, and otherwise bathed, non-reeking people aren't usually at.

Yep, I agree, and even for the homeless the food is crap.
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  #9  
Old 02-27-2013, 11:43 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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Pet food?
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:54 PM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
Pet food?
A lot of homeless people have dogs and the dogs need to eat too. The homeless know how and where to get food, no one is starving to death. The ones asking you for food really just want money.
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  #11  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:30 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
Pet food?
Not covered by food stamps. One of the more common reasons for actual hunger in the homeless is that they feed their food to their dog. Which isn't particularly good for the dog, either.

And while I'm sure the howls of outrage about smelly homeless people daring to keep their pets will now commence...let me just remind people that most homeless people are employed or recently employed people who are homeless for less than two months, due to temporary financial and/or medical stress, and animal shelters are more crowded than people shelters. You put your kids' dog in a shelter and you're very unlikely to ever see him again, which can be devastating during a time that's already putting your kid at risk for educational and behavioral problems. And many of the chronically homeless are physically and/or mentally ill or disabled, and their dogs are de facto therapy dogs and security systems.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:03 AM
Steophan Steophan is online now
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
Fuck that. Nobody wants stank-ass bums hanging around in an otherwise clean-ish restaurant where people may bring families, and otherwise bathed, non-reeking people aren't usually at.
They are still far less disgusting than you, if you have that attitude.
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  #13  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:03 AM
Munch Munch is offline
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Originally Posted by EmilyG View Post
Considering that the quality of dollar-store food may not be as good as food elsewhere, is it a bad thing to give dollar-store food to the homeless? Or is it good that the homeless people are getting any food at all?
Please save your money and donate it to where it will have the most impact - service providers. Here's an article in our local paper highlighting the hidden costs of enabling the homeless with food handouts. Not only will service providers be better able to maximize your donated money by aquiring food via food banks and other sources, but they have a far better chance of knowing whether the local homeless are more in need of resources other than food - and can provide those resources. There's not a lot of cans of Drug Rehabilitation or Employment Training that you can pick up at the local Dollar General, but somehow the support organizations around here are able to provide it.
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  #14  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:15 AM
LurkerInNJ LurkerInNJ is offline
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Wet wipes or diaper wipes are good.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:24 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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I often buy food for myself at the dollar store. You see lots of regular brands there, plus some unusual European stuff like cookies and crackers. IOW I don't think the groceries at the dollar store are any worse, poorer quality, or junkier than what you find at the regular supermarket.

Having said that, here's the thing. You know... I've worked for non-profits for over 30 years raising money. Agencies are great, and I've worked for at least three in the past 20 years whose mission was working with the homeless, providing emergency food and shelter, etcblahblahblah.

AND if you want to give money or food to a homeless person, then, for Pete's sake, follow your heart and do it. Agencies and churches do great work and they are totally necessary and indispensable. But if YOU are personally moved to hand cash or a McDonald's certificate or a loaf of bread to a homeless person who is standing right in front of you, then don't overthink: just do it.

I often give money to panhandlers, having gone through some VERY tough financial times myself, and I don't care what anybody says, trying to get strangers to give you money is a dismal way to spend the day and no one does it by choice. It's not my job to vet the people asking me for money. I react from my gut and if my gut says, "Hand this guy five or twenty bucks," I do it. I don't care what s/he does with the money. That's not my problem. This practice will NOT likely catch on among the middle or upper classes or start a massive tidal wave of entitlement that causes the so-called "working poor" to quit their jobs and take to the streetcorners with cardboard signs and fake casts on their legs.

I do it because I'm financially okay now and I remember when I wasn't. I also give (proportionately) a lot to regular charities and agencies, too. But it's not up to me to tell a homeless person how THEY should be dealing with the stress and misery of wondering where their next meal is coming from. If I can ease that worry for an hour, I do it.

When I hand money to a panhandler, I almost always say, "May I ask you for something?" And when they say, "What?" I say, "Will you pray for me?" At that point the person makes eye contact with me and asks me my name, which I tell them. Every one of them says they will absolutely pray for me. No one has EVER turned down this request. I feel that making this request puts us on more of an equal footing instead of me reaching down from on high like Lady Bountiful. And God knows, I can use all the prayers I can get.

One time, a tall, regal black man dressed in the shabbiest imaginable clothes stopped right then and there on the sidewalk, put his hand on my shoulder, raised his face to heaven, and invoked blessings on me so sincerely, eloquently, and passionately (and for several minutes) that the memory of it, even now, years later, brings tears to my eyes.

Friends, that could be any one of us on that street corner. Follow your heart. Give food if you want to.

Last edited by ThelmaLou; 02-28-2013 at 10:26 AM..
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:35 AM
Shakes Shakes is offline
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In downtown Dallas you can't walk five feet with out somebody asking you for some spare change. I don't normally carry cash on me but when it's convenient, I'll stop by the McDonald's off of main street and buy a bag of of $! cheese burgers.

They're usually gone before I can even walk two blocks. I'm not doing that shit any more though. Last time I did it I managed to get a passel of homeless people surrounding me wanting their cheeseburger. Problem was I didn't have enough to go around. People started getting pissy with each other. Like SCARY pissy. Thankfully, their outrage was not directed at me but it could very easily have been.
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  #17  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:35 AM
bup bup is offline
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
Fuck that. Nobody wants stank-ass bums hanging around in an otherwise clean-ish restaurant where people may bring families, and otherwise bathed, non-reeking people aren't usually at.
People have confused this poster and me before. I preemptively remind the SDMB that I am not bump.

I have much more friendly advice: what the homeless really want are homes. They could really use homes.
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  #18  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:38 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Friends, one time while walking to the train, one lady in our group gave some decent looking homeless dude a fiver. He was very happy and she thought she had “done the right thing”.

Next day, he wanted another fiver, but she (having no small bills at the ready) said “sorry”. He followed her for two blocks cursing & screaming at her and making the nastiest threats.

She now will only walk if we’re all going together. She had nitemares for weeks.

Ignore your heart. Follow your brain. It’s the thinking organ, that other organ just pumps blood.

Donate your money and/or time to a group or org that really helps those in need.
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  #19  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:38 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Originally Posted by EmilyG View Post
Considering that the quality of dollar-store food may not be as good as food elsewhere, is it a bad thing to give dollar-store food to the homeless? Or is it good that the homeless people are getting any food at all?
Just because food is sold in a dollar store doesn't mean there's necessarily anything "wrong" with it. Some of the food items they sell there are just fine, some aren't, and some I may never know because I'm not motivated to try them.

My own rule of thumb is, I'd have no qualms about donating (whether to a homeless person on the street, or a canned food drive for the hungry, or whatever) anything that I myself would be willing to eat/use. And I myself am not particularly picky, and have been through times when I had to make my money go as far as possible.
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  #20  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:40 AM
Munch Munch is offline
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You know, a large portion of my career has been dedicated to raising money for homeless agencies. It's been dedicated to finding solutions to the problems of homelessness, and finding ways to prevent it from happening. The one thing every agency I've worked with agrees with is that handouts to homeless a) don't solve homelessness, b) don't alleviate the immediate suffering of homeless, c) divert attention from actions and agencies that actually do those things and d) enable more than they help.

Give all the food you want - it's your money. But it's entirely counterproductive, can be hazardous to the health of the person you're trying to help, and shows a pretty high level of self-centeredness. At the very least, pick up a few rat traps to hand out as well - they're going to need it (if they're even homeless in the first place).
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  #21  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:48 AM
astorian astorian is offline
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I buy various items (both food products and toiletry items) to donate to the poor/homeless, and in the past, I have looked at items sold at dollar stores.

What I've found is, it's VERY rarely cheaper to buy these items from dollar stores. Now, your experience may be different from mine, but I'd advise you to check the prices of the items you buy against what you'd pay at a regular supermarket.

That small can of Chef Boy-ar-dee spaghetti and meatballs or Libby's fruit cocktail you got for 98 cents at the dollar store may actually be a little cheaper at a supermarket (or even a Target). Do NOT automatically assume everything at the dollar store is less expensive than what you can get elsewhere.

Oh, dollar stores often have VERY cheap generic crap, but when they sell actual name brand products, they often DON'T sell them for any less money than you'd pay at ordinary supermarkets.

Last edited by astorian; 02-28-2013 at 10:49 AM..
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  #22  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:49 AM
FrankJBN FrankJBN is offline
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As to "most homeless are employed", probably not the ones that are begging on the street.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:53 AM
Munch Munch is offline
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As to "most homeless are employed", probably not the ones that are begging on the street.
In Indianapolis, very few of the people begging on the streets are actually homeless.
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  #24  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:06 AM
coffeecat coffeecat is offline
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ThelmaLou, will you pray for my family & me? God will listen to you; I think you're on His speed-dial.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:13 AM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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Please don't buy pet food at a dollar store.
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  #26  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:15 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Originally Posted by Munch View Post
In Indianapolis, very few of the people begging on the streets are actually homeless.
There are homeless people, and there are panhandlers, and there are homeless panhandlers. Most homeless people aren't panhandling.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:18 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
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Originally Posted by coffeecat View Post
ThelmaLou, will you pray for my family & me? God will listen to you; I think you're on His speed-dial.
Sure, especially because your screen name combines my two favorite things.

P.S. I'm not sure God listens to me. That's why I ask other people to pray.
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  #28  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:18 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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Originally Posted by bup View Post
I have much more friendly advice: what the homeless really want are homes. They could really use homes.
Obviously YMMV, and perhaps the homeless people you all encounter are a different variety than the ones I do, but it's my experience that what they really want is booze and drugs. They would happily trade a home for either of those.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:43 AM
coffeecat coffeecat is offline
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Some want homes, some want booze & drugs, some want better health, most want simple, human respect. I dare say druggies & crazies are overrepresented, but like the non-homeless, everyone's different.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:12 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
There are homeless people, and there are panhandlers, and there are homeless panhandlers. Most homeless people aren't panhandling.
Absolutely. There's a local conservative talk radio guy who on Twitter was trying to drum up support for his latest anti-panhandling article, and said "99% of the 'so-called' homeless are just con artists". He was referring to panhandlers. Now, a large percentage (certainly not 99%) of the panhandlers out there are not homeless - but that statement completely misrepresents the actual homeless population, the vast majority of which are not out on the streets begging for food spare change.
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  #31  
Old 02-28-2013, 12:58 PM
FrankJBN FrankJBN is offline
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"Most homeless people aren't panhandling"

This is likely true. Howeveer, most panhandlers I see are wearing signs that say "homeless"
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:52 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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This is likely true. Howeveer, most panhandlers I see are wearing signs that say "homeless"
And everyone in prison says that they're innocent. Year after year, our local homeless count confirms that the panhandlers just aren't showing up at shelters, and they're not accessing services. That's because they're not homeless. I've seen shift changes at multiple panhandling locations. A car pulls up, a guy or girl gets out, the panhandler hands over his or her sign to the new guy, panhandler gets in the car, new guy or girl starts panhandling.

Now, that doesn't mean they're not in need, and it doesn't mean they're not destitute. But I know multiple organizations I can support where the people absolutely are, and where they're not lying to get those organizations' assistance. They get my time and money.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:06 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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I've seen shift changes at multiple panhandling locations. A car pulls up, a guy or girl gets out, the panhandler hands over his or her sign to the new guy, panhandler gets in the car, new guy or girl starts panhandling.
There's a big intersection near my work where I see different people on different days with the same sign. Never seen a "shift change," but that's kind of funny.
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  #34  
Old 02-28-2013, 03:11 PM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
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...One time, a tall, regal black man dressed in the shabbiest imaginable clothes stopped right then and there on the sidewalk, put his hand on my shoulder, raised his face to heaven, and invoked blessings on me so sincerely, eloquently, and passionately (and for several minutes) that the memory of it, even now, years later, brings tears to my eyes...
That's a lovely story. I wish I could have heard him.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:18 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Fuck that. Nobody wants stank-ass bums hanging around in an otherwise clean-ish restaurant where people may bring families, and otherwise bathed, non-reeking people aren't usually at.
bump, McDonald's provides a place for those "stank-ass bums" to wash up. And you do not have the legal, or any other, right to tell them to stay out.

I once got some $1 boxes of drink mix on my food stamps. A total bitch in line behind me noticed my card and stated 'She shouldn't be buying that on food stamps. She can drink plain water."

I looked at her groceries and remarked "What's with you and the four six packs of Coke?"
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:18 PM
bup bup is offline
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And everyone in prison says that they're innocent.
That's a popular misconception. Very few prisoners claim they're innocent. </nitpick, hijack>
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  #37  
Old 03-01-2013, 07:37 AM
EmilyG EmilyG is offline
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Fuck that. Nobody wants stank-ass bums hanging around in an otherwise clean-ish restaurant where people may bring families, and otherwise bathed, non-reeking people aren't usually at.
Yeah, but McDonald's smells so bad that if a bum went in, it'd probably improve the smell.
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  #38  
Old 03-01-2013, 08:37 AM
yellowjacketcoder yellowjacketcoder is offline
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
bump, McDonald's provides a place for those "stank-ass bums" to wash up. And you do not have the legal, or any other, right to tell them to stay out.
Legal right, no. But I can't say I blame him for not wanting to smell the person next to him. I don't have the legal right to tell the "homo sex is sin" people to stop preaching on the sidewalks, but I would prefer they were not there all the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
I once got some $1 boxes of drink mix on my food stamps. A total bitch in line behind me noticed my card and stated 'She shouldn't be buying that on food stamps. She can drink plain water."

I looked at her groceries and remarked "What's with you and the four six packs of Coke?"
I think the difference here is that she is paying for her cokes and what she does with her money is her business. Food stamps are provided on the taxpayer dime and it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that the taxpayer would like food stamps spent on necessities (You occasionally here those stories about about someone using food stamps to buy lobster). Not that I think food stamps are a bad program or that you shouldn't be able to buy drink mix with them, but the attitude that "you shouldn't use food stamps for drink mix" and "I can use my own money to buy coke" is both rational and consistent, even if somewhat heartless.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:28 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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bump, McDonald's provides a place for those "stank-ass bums" to wash up. And you do not have the legal, or any other, right to tell them to stay out.
Generally any business can refuse to serve such a customer. And if another customer complains they can ask them to leave.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:53 PM
bump bump is offline
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bump, McDonald's provides a place for those "stank-ass bums" to wash up. And you do not have the legal, or any other, right to tell them to stay out.
I didn't say to eject them, I just was saying not to encourage them to actively go to McDonald's or somewhere else like public libraries where they don't do anything useful and primarily pollute the place and disgust and/or terrify the legitimate patrons.

I don't give a shit if it's a public place or not; smelling like some sort of combination of a dumpster and a public toilet at a football game isn't acceptable anywhere other than your own home, and I see no reason that we should be tolerant of that or any other sort of misbehavior on the part of the homeless, just because they're homeless. If they want to be treated like civilized people, they need to act and smell like civilized people- it's part of the bargain.
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  #41  
Old 03-02-2013, 09:55 PM
coffeecat coffeecat is offline
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Originally Posted by yellowjacketcoder View Post
I think the difference here is that she is paying for her cokes and what she does with her money is her business. Food stamps are provided on the taxpayer dime and it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that the taxpayer would like food stamps spent on necessities (You occasionally here those stories about about someone using food stamps to buy lobster). Not that I think food stamps are a bad program or that you shouldn't be able to buy drink mix with them, but the attitude that "you shouldn't use food stamps for drink mix" and "I can use my own money to buy coke" is both rational and consistent, even if somewhat heartless.
Not too rational. If Annie gets $150/month food stamps, it costs the taxpayer $150/mo (plus administrative costs), whether Annie spends it on drink mix or gruel. If Ms. B. thinks that being able to afford drink mix proves $150/mo is a lavish food budget, that's another (dumb) story.
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  #42  
Old 03-02-2013, 10:32 PM
guizot guizot is offline
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I often buy food for myself at the dollar store. You see lots of regular brands there, plus some unusual European stuff like cookies and crackers. IOW I don't think the groceries at the dollar store are any worse, poorer quality, or junkier than what you find at the regular supermarket.
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Originally Posted by astorian View Post
What I've found is, it's VERY rarely cheaper to buy these items from dollar stores. Now, your experience may be different from mine, but I'd advise you to check the prices of the items you buy against what you'd pay at a regular supermarket.
That's exactly what I do, and I'd say about 95% percent of the time it is in fact cheaper, but I'm referring specifically to 99˘ Only Stores, not "dollar stores" in general. What follows applies to this chain only. (And when the regular supermarket is cheaper, it's always because the item is on sale.)

99˘ Only Stores has regularly stocked items, and then it has items which are the exact same products you buy at a "regular" supermarket. They get these particular items because of shipping diversions from regular distributors--not because the items are damaged, or inferior. So, while you can't expect them to always be stocked, as long as it's something that costs more than 99 cents at the "regular" stores then it's obviously cheaper.

That said, I'll agree that some of the regular items at 99˘ Only Stores occasionally are in fact cheaper at other places, such as Walmart, when they go on sale there.

ThelmaLou, I don't know if you shop at just a generic "dollar store," but at 99˘ Only Stores, it's not just packaged food--they have good produce, too. Check out what this gourmet blogger gets at 99˘ Only Stores.
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  #43  
Old 03-03-2013, 04:55 AM
Idle Thoughts Idle Thoughts is online now
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They are still far less disgusting than you, if you have that attitude.
This is pushing the "being insulting" line, Steophan. Back off it. You've been here long enough, you should know where that line is.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:34 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by coffeecat View Post
Not too rational. If Annie gets $150/month food stamps, it costs the taxpayer $150/mo (plus administrative costs), whether Annie spends it on drink mix or gruel. If Ms. B. thinks that being able to afford drink mix proves $150/mo is a lavish food budget, that's another (dumb) story.
Whenever people start proposing that what food stamp recipients spend their food stamps on should be more tightly regulated they almost always completely fail to consider that this would greatly inflate administrative costs. The current system is actually cheaper than their proposed "nanny state" regulation.
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  #45  
Old 03-03-2013, 10:12 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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WIC benefits are limited to certain items; how exactly is that controlled at the register?
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  #46  
Old 03-03-2013, 10:24 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
WIC benefits are limited to certain items; how exactly is that controlled at the register?
The store system has certain PLUs catagorized as WIC or SNAP items. It can be overridden by a manager. If you buy items that aren't covered by WIC or SNAP, like toilet paper or prepared food, the receipt will generally print in two sections, or have little arrows or other markers to distinguish what went on your card and what you had to pay for in cash. It's up to the store to be compliant and categorize their PLU's correctly, with penalities if they don't and are turned in.

(Had a go-round with a store manager once when I wanted to buy a huge rosemary plant, stocked in a big "BBQ With Fresh Herbs!" display, obviously labeled as food, and it was much much cheaper than the rosemary in the spice aisle. Food plants, including edible herbs, are allowed by SNAP, at the grocery store or at gardening centers that accept SNAP. His store had put the PLU under Floral, which is not covered. Eventually, they overrode it and fixed it in the system, but it took three trips to the store and escalating managers to take care of it. It was the principal of the thing that made it worth my time, not to mention $8 for a 28" living plant that gave me rosemary for three years instead of $11 for a little tiny bottle of dried rosemary.)

I don't think it would be terribly burdensome for the PLU system to be used so that lobster is excluded but flour isn't. That is essentially what WIC does.

But what would be a nightmare is getting a committee to agree on what "necessities" are and what "junk food" and "luxuries" are, and providing enough security at stores so that managers don't get punched in the face by angry customers who think orange juice should be covered, even if soda pop isn't.

Last edited by WhyNot; 03-03-2013 at 10:26 AM..
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  #47  
Old 03-03-2013, 01:51 PM
JKilez JKilez is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
Fuck that. Nobody wants stank-ass bums hanging around in an otherwise clean-ish restaurant where people may bring families, and otherwise bathed, non-reeking people aren't usually at.
That is why you send them to McDonalds.
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