On Minimum Wage, Nutrition is Out of the Question

Today was the second day of our Working America Minimum Wage Challenge. Rep. Jason Metsa, using the budget he set out yesterday, went to Cub Foods store to see what he could eat on $5 a day.

Metsa told us he was hungry – he had missed breakfast again this morning. On Monday, he had purchased a cup of coffee and a few items at a $5 buffet, so with that $7 out, he had about $30 left for this shopping trip.

Under those restrictions, he bought bread, peanut butter, spaghetti and a can of sauces, packaged salami, eggs, frozen orange juice. Rep. Metsa had to put a few items back at check-out (one loaf of bread and a can of beef ravioli) because he went over the 30 dollars.

While he was shopping, Metsa constantly stopped to add up the total cost of the food to make sure he could afford the essentials like milk and eggs, something he wasn’t used to doing. “In my regular diet, I enjoy more fruits and vegetables,” he told us, but he needed to make sure he had some income left for the rest of the week’s expenses. Luckily, there was a head of lettuce and some potatoes that were on sale for $0.38. Otherwise, his haul was heavy on salt and fat, and low on nutrition.

Metsa mentioned how he had gotten to the store and how it would fit into his transportation budgets. In this case he had a friend (our staffer) to pick him up to take him to the store, so he didn’t have to take the bus. In most areas, the bus isn’t even an option, so gas and insurance need to be considered.

“It would be even more challenging if I had to do this for a month – or had a family,” Metsa reflected, “If I had a family I might have to make hard choice, like giving up my car that requires insurance so I could have a larger food budget for my kids.”

Tomorrow, Rep. Metsa will attempt to find a place to live on a monthly housing budget of $359.

See more photos on our Facebook page.

Tags: , ,