There are indeed women, mostly young women unfortunately, who have carts full of TV dinners, lunchables, and crap... but there are also many who are making an effort to be somewhat healthy. And then there are just plain folks.
I also see women who are clearly feeding many people (food stamps are not awarded in consideration of adults who may be living in the household nondependent) and more typical than a cart of pure crap is a cart of poor people food:
Ramen by the case (lots of fat and carbs)
spaghetti, tubes of 27% fat meat, cans of cheap sauce
six of cheap (and highly fat and caloric) mac and cheese
six packs of Jiffy Corn bread mix
two dozen eggs
loaves of cheap white bread
baloney and cheap deli ham loaf
bag of potatoes
bag of apples
giant bundles of "greens"
pork for cooking
kool aid or fruit (HFCS) drink
big jar of peanut butter
big jar of grape jelly
gallons of milk
bags of noname kids cereals (HFCS)
These are common items I see in food stamp carts. Yes, I also see frozen dinners (Michelinas $1/ea) and cheap pizzas, but these things are not necessarily worse for you than their more expensive counterparts (pizza especially) and they are things Americans in general and young people use.
Yes, I see a lot of bad choices and I see some abuse. It's important to remember that these SNAP benefits are largely aimed at children. I also get annoyed when I am behind someone and I have scrimped to save some money, and she is IMO taking advantage of the system. I'd be a liar if I could completely separate this from being annoyed that a "paying customer" is standing in line behind a food stamp customer... but the truth is that if I want to avoid this, I can shop in a nicer store and pay $20 or more extra for a week's groceries. I shop at Walmart to save my mom money (I do her grocery shopping). I myself could live out of the Greek deli, produce stand, and health food store.
You want to put a serious dent in the SNAP abuse? Get the government to forbid use of SNAP at corner stores.
My teacher did a good job. I already knew the basics by 7th grade, but she taught us some tricks and some new things that really paid off when I was babysitting.
I've offered to teach a class to our teenaged foster kids, but management doesn't seem that interested. I was going to call it "Beyond Ramen". I didn't even ask for extra money to do it.
Home Ec has morphed into Family and Consumer Science. Both names are unfortunate. It ought to be called Householder Skills ("householder" being the latest PC term for anyone who does the dishes or pays the utility bill).
Basically, it's Adult World Skills. Beyond the mysteries of making soup without a 546 page cookbook, it should cover personal finances, home repair, gardening, child care, housekeeping/laundry, elder care, time management, and marketing (the grocery kind, not the adverting kind).
There is a new generation of people that can't cook....but this is nothing new. As a kid, I could fry hamburgers and potatoes, and could make anything that came in a box or can. I wasn't the cook or cook's helper as a kid, I was the baker. If it went on the stove, it was candy.
However, having gone through many years with very little money (and no food stamps), I definitely learned how to cook simple, cheap meals. I made some messes even the dogs wouldn't eat, and we probably were "food insecure" a lot... but my kids never went hungry...and none of them were "porkers." Food insecurity may be good for people, it forces them to choose between wants and needs!
While women moving into the work force has contributed to bad cooking and poor food choices, guys didn't exactly step up to the plate (hah hah!) with any significant daily cooking contributions. For every guy who can't wait to tear off his tie or throw off his hard hat so he can get busy in the kitchen, there are 5,000 guys with no real interest in making dinner.
The problem is that both men and women think food is something someone else should do. Barring that, they both think that food should be as easy as possible and that means 'convenience foods'.
I think we need to know more about these suburban people before we condemn them as being bored with their food. Maybe after the house, electricity, child care, and other important things, there isn't enough left. I think it's also wrong to make the stereotype of the kids being overweight without even seeing a photograph of them.
As for poor people being overweight, it is two things. First, it is a lack of discipline. Food, beer, and cigarettes give them pleasure. They do need to work on that problem.
However, another problem is that affordable food is often not healthy. I hear ideas of living off of Ramon noodles. Well, that's pure carbs. It costs less to buy a box of Twinkies than it does a bag of apples. Some of the cheaper meat has more fat in it.
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