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Shopping in Poverty

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MANKATO, Minn. -

The United Way in Mankato wanted to get a better idea of what it's like to be on food stamps.

What better way than to go to the grocery on that budget. 
 
To get a sense of the limits of EBT, United Way board members split into five teams and went to the five grocery stores in town to see who could stretch their dollars the farthest.
$120 a week, for a family of four.

To do that, it meant forgoing Kraft brand mac and cheese for the Hy-Vee version.
Bye bye Kemps. Every cent counts.
 
Steve Van Roekel of the Mankato United Way says, "You have to think really hard about whether or not you're going to get enough to begin with to keep your family happy for a week. On top of that, to do it in a nutritious was. It takes a lot of effort and there's no extra, that's for sure."

When they were done, they brought back their haul to be graded by nutritionists from MCHS.

The winner, at least with this group of shoppers... Wal-Mart. Lots of store-brand vegetables, bulk eggs... enough to easily feed the family for a week.

Assuming everyone is fine with eating frozen vegetables and generic noodles, and willing to cook from scratch every meal.
 
Blue Earth County Administrator Bob Meyer says, "It really was informative to the members of the United Way board in terms of what thoughts have to be considered when pricing food and what decisions are made in the grocery aisles on the cost of various items and how do they plan out their weekly menus."

All of the food purchased in the United Way's experiment was donated to the Salvation Army food shelf.