poverty-prices

You can get a gallon of milk for the low, low price of $23.51. Or how about a 100-ounce bottle of laundry detergent for just $58.04? And a holiday turkey is a bargain at $111.50!

What kind of deals are these, and why would anyone want to take advantage of them?

According to a California nonprofit group, more than a million people they support are effectively paying these prices for their groceries, every time they shop. So the group hopes its catchy, colorful “grocery ads” help call attention to the problem.

Among all of the holiday shopping coupons and circulars filling your newspapers and mailboxes this season, San Francisco-area residents have also been receiving an insert from the local charity group “Tipping Point”.

The organization says the prices represent what a family of four living under the poverty line, making $24,300 a year or less, are effectively paying for their basic needs. When you earn five times less than average, Tipping Point explains, everything you buy seems like it costs five times more.

The group supplemented its ads with an in-store “promotion” at a San Francisco grocery store. Greeted with signs reading “Poverty line prices today,” shoppers were recorded on hidden cameras reacting to the “poverty line prices” they were charged at the checkout.

“I come here all the time. That tea is not $25,” one shopper says. “$50 for soup? That’s a joke!” another objects.

For those earning less than $24,300 a year, “this is what every day feels like, in every store,” Tipping Point explains.

The campaign is reminiscent of a series of ads made to look like cheesy supermarket commercials in Canada earlier this year. “This week, take a huge bite out of your budget with two-pack steaks, now just $72.99,” one ad promised. “You won’t get ahead with these deals – red cabbage, just $28.54!”

Those ads were meant to call attention to high grocery prices in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut, where many residents complain they simply can’t afford what it costs to import food to the remote area.

Tipping Point hopes its similarly catchy campaign helps to raise awareness about the plight of low-income shoppers – and helps to raise money for its charitable endeavors.

“We just wanted to make something that made people stop and think,” Tipping Point CEO Daniel Lurie explained.

Tipping Point is accepting donations on its website to help provide support for low-income people in the San Francisco Bay Area. The website invites visitors to donate enough to cover the $23.51 “price” of a gallon of milk, a $111.50 turkey, a $353.37 monthly bus ticket or $2,827 for books at a local community college.

So as you check out the sale prices in your local grocery circular, Tipping Point hopes that just this once, you’ll consider paying $23.51 for milk – to help ensure that no one else will have to.

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