The SNAP Challenge encourages participants to get a sense of what life is like for millions of low-income Americans facing hunger, including thousands of families and seniors right here in southwest Missouri. For those of you who don’t know, SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and was formerly called “food stamps.” While SNAP provides monthly benefits to supplement the food budgets of families in need, in many cases the benefits are inadequate and families still struggle to put food on the table.
Here are a few of my notes from my experience so far:
- I’m having to adjust my usual low-fat/low-carb weekday diet for my budget. My breakfast this morning was two eggs and private label processed cheese. Tasty, but 20 grams of fat to start the day…not so great! Lean protein and fresh fruit are the hardest things to find on my budget.
- Got my lab report from my annual physical. I have borderline high cholesterol and blood sugar. My instructions say to eat lean protein, limit sugar and other simple carbohydrates, and eat more whole grains and fiber. My budget says otherwise.
- I had a BLT for dinner. The bread I normally use costs $4.00 per loaf—almost my whole day’s allowance! Compromised with a cheaper product, but it’s full of simple carbs and not much fiber. I also usually use turkey bacon to limit fat, but that’s outside my budget as well, so it’s full fat bacon for me!
While the goal is to gain some understanding of the struggles vulnerable families face each day, it is impossible to fully comprehend the difficult decisions low-income families face daily. The Challenge ultimately helps raise awareness about the complex issue of hunger in communities across the nation.
It’s not too late to take the Challenge. Here’s what you need to do:
- Choose the duration of your SNAP Challenge. You can choose the last week in September to participate during Hunger Action Month, or you can do it any other week of the year. Those of us in the Feeding America network are aligning our voices, Sept. 15–21.
- Budget for your weekly groceries. You’re allowed $4.50 per person per day—for all food and beverages. That’s the average SNAP benefit. You CAN use coupons, but you cannot shop at membership clubs.
- You shouldn't eat food you purchased prior to starting the Challenge and you must avoid accepting free food from friends, family or while at work.
- Keep track of your receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week, in particular the choices you made between the variety and quality of food you ate.
- Finally, invite others to join you & ask them to share their experience through blogging or on their social media accounts. You can find more SNAP facts here.