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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/482

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464
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

six months' boarding of seventeen men and eight women (three servants), the men being engaged in arduous mechanical employments, and consuming comparatively large quantities of meat, the daily cost of the subsistance of each individual was twenty-eight cents per day. In the jails of Massachusetts the average daily cost of the food of the prisoners and of the employés of the prisons for the year 1883—bread of the best quality, good meats, vegetables, tea, rye-coffee, sugar, etc., being furnished liberally—was a trifle over fifteen cents per day for each person.[1]

In one of the best conducted almshouses of Connecticut, the condition of which has been carefully investigated by the writer, the sum of $7,000 per annum, exclusive of interest on the plant and extraordinary repairs, is believed to be amply sufficient to maintain an average of sixty-five inmates, mainly adults, in a building of modem construction, scrupulously clean, thoroughly warmed and ventilated, with an abundance of good and varied food, clothing and medical attendance, or at an average daily expenditure of about thirty cents per capita.

The evidence, therefore, is conclusive, "that an ample and varied supply of attractive and nutritious food can be furnished in the eastern portions of the United States—and probably in Great Britain also—at a cost not exceeding twenty cents per day, and for a less sum in the western sections of the country, provided that it is judiciously purchased and economically served"; and the legitimate inference from these results is, that the problem of greatest importance to be solved in the United States and in Great Britain, in the work of ameliorating the condition of the honest and industrious poor is (as Mr. Atkinson has expressed it), to find out how to furnish them with ample and excellent food as cheaply as it is supplied to the inmates of our prisons and almshouses,[2]

The facts in regard to the general increase in the deposits of sav-

  1. These results are due to the laborious and careful investigations of Mr. Edward Atkinson, of Massachusetts, and were first published in 1884, under the title of "The Distribution of Products." Together with the results of similar investigations conducted by Mr. Robert Giffen, of England, they rank among the most important and valuable contributions ever made to economic and social science.
  2. The following results of one of the first and most recent efforts to practically carry out this idea are especially worthy of recording in connection with this discussion, and in the highest degree encouraging: Early in the fall of 1887 a number of public-spirited, philanthropic ladies in the city of New York, in charge of a large working-girl's club, determined to try the experiment of founding and managing a working-girl's boardinghouse, with a view of ascertaining at what cost a good and varied subsistence and good lodging could be furnished to young women dependent upon their own exertions in a great city for a livelihood, and to whom, by reason of comparatively small incomes, the practice of rigid economy was imperative. For this purpose an attractive and suitable house on a good street was taken at an annual rent of 81,000, and a matron engaged who was thoroughly conversant with the art of advantageously buying and preparing and serving food. As was to be expected, some little time was required to put the experiment