Produce out of reach in limited budgets

Fresh fruits and vegetables strain family budgets, compared with cheap fast food. Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Fresh fruits and vegetables strain family budgets, compared with cheap fast food. Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images

This article was originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle’s health section on March 12, 2013.

Less than $5 per person per day. That’s the average amount a California family receives in benefits from the CalFresh Program (formerly called Food Stamps), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And as “A Place at the Table,” a new documentary about hunger in America, points out, that might buy a lot of fast food, but it doesn’t go far in the produce aisle. Here are the numbers:

$7.42

The average daily per-person cost of groceries for a family of two adults and two school-age children living in San Francisco. That’s according to a report that the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, a research organization in Oakland, published in 2011, the most recent year data is available.

$5

The San Francisco Safeway Club Card price of a 2-pound container of strawberries or about 3 pounds of broccoli during the first week of March.

$1

The cost of each of the following items on McDonald’s Dollar Menu: a grilled onion cheddar burger, a Hot ‘N Spicy McChicken sandwich, a Fruit ‘N Yogurt parfait, a side salad, a vanilla ice cream cone, or a chocolate chip cookie.

9%

The percentage of San Francisco households that received CalFresh benefits (formerly Food Stamps) in December 2012, the most recent monthly data available from the state’s Health and Human Services Agency. That’s more than 31,000 households.

15%

The percentage of California households, or 1.86 million, that received CalFresh benefits in December 2012.