Switching gears to a healthier you on Food Stamps - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Switching gears to a healthier you on Food Stamps

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In a tough economy, often times, it's a much bigger challenge to provide healthy, fulfilling meals for ourselves and our families.

Millions of Americans, each month, alleviate that stress with the help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or S.N.A.P., also known as Food Stamps.

While studies show it has made a difference in the lives of millions, some say the dollar amount each month can make it tough to get exactly what you want while staying healthy.

In a world where most of what we DO make is spent on things like rent, mortgage, student loans, car payments and, the list goes on, thousands of South Dakotans don't have much left for food. That's why they get a few bucks to help them out.

"I really believe the S.N.A.P. Program is one of the best in the nation for spending tax dollars wisely and giving the benefits to those who need them," S.N.A.P South Dakota director Judy Toelle said.

The goal for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance is to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by increasing the food purchasing power for all eligible households that apply for it.

On the 10th of each month, people on the program will get a set amount of money to spend.

The average in South Dakota is $304 per family, per month.

Of course, income, expenses, children and other factors apply.  But, that person (or family) has access to anything in the store with the exception of pre-made meals, tobacco and alcohol.

Someone living on their own, with lower income, could get $200/month at the most which means roughly $50/week or $7 per day.

"So, I asked myself 'can this really be done, can I make for a healthier me on just $50 for the week?" KSFY's Courtney Collen said.

My goal: to get the most nutritional bang for my buck.

Hy-Vee dietitian Cathy Jo Tooley says a common misconception is people thinking they can't be healthy on this type of budget. She says you CAN afford to be healthy, if you plan ahead.

For example: opting for wheat bread instead of white, regular or Greek yogurt, and fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables.

"One of the biggest mistakes is people pay for convenience. All it takes is a little planning and effort to make that dollar stretch," Hy-Vee dietitian Cathy Jo Tooley said.

Think outside the box, here's an example:

"Taking a whole grain flour tortilla and spreading a thin layer of peanut butter, with a banana, wrapping it up. It's a great snack, nutritious and more so than a bag of chips and more cost effective. You'll get more servings out of tortillas, peanut butter and bananas than a serving of chips," Tooley said.

There are some good tips everyone can use:

 - Look for the sales, 9 times out of 10, there will be some kind of price reduction.

 - Go for the store brands rather than nationwide brands. They're almost always cheaper and don't have much difference.

"We can't regulate what they purchase. It's determined at the federal level. It's up to individual choice on but we do promote healthy eating absolutely," Toelle said.

Healthy foods can be found all over the grocery stores. Best of all, there's almost always a sale.

"What you eat now can affect you down the road. If you're eating a lot of high-fat and calorie, high-carb foods it can come back at you later in life. Heart disease and diabetes are a couple of diseases. Now is the time to start taking the steps to prevent those diseases from starting," Tooley said.

If the S.N.A.P. program is what helps you buy your groceries, or maybe you have a strict budget, let this serve as some good advice to help bring happier, healthier meals to your table... even if you only have a few bucks to spend.

Below, you'll find a wide variety of related resources.

Hy-Vee offers a wide range of meal solutions: http://www.hy-vee.com/meal-solutions/ 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: http://dss.sd.gov/snap/

Feeding South Dakota: http://www.feedingsouthdakota.org/

Kids Against Hunger, Sioux Falls: http://www.kidsagainsthungersiouxfalls.org/

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