For six weeks in 2013 our family took on a CalFresh/food stamp challenge. Ivan and I created a blog about it called Forty Days of SNAP. I’ve collected all our posts here on Slide Show and Ice Cream because, in addition to the challenge being a religious discipline and a kick start to what I hope becomes a broader anti-hunger advocacy journey for us, it was something we did as a family and we’ll always have the memories churning in the custard that is our life together.
OK, that was a bad metaphor.
So what is a food stamp challenge? Read on.
The SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge gives participants a view of what life can be like for millions of low-income Americans. Most participants take the Challenge for one week, living on a little over $4 per day worth of food – the average food stamp benefit. Challenge participants are forced to make food shopping choices on a limited budget, and often realize how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy with too few resources.
Members of Congress, governors, state officials, journalists and other community leaders have taken the Challenge and have learned firsthand what it is like to try to make ends meet on the average food stamp benefit.
While living on a food stamp budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding.
We are taking the challenge for Lent, the 40 days (excluding Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. This year, the dates are February 13-March 30.
- Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week.
- All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
- During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).
- Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.
- Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.
- Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.
Because our challenge is longer than one week we are tweaking the above guidelines somewhat. Read our posts for more details.