I came here to write about the offensive memes about food stamps and welfare that I have been seeing all over social media again. You know, the ones comparing food stamp recipients to wild animals, the ones judging WIC recipients for having an iPhone, the ones that say you work hard so people on welfare don’t have to.
I admit, these memes and posts make me angry. When I get started on this I have to step back and take a deep breath. I have to remember that the people who spread such vile hate about those who need help usually mean well and have a genuine concern for our country, they’re just misinformed. But you don’t have to listen to me, check out this website for some unbiased truths about welfare, and check out Feeding America to learn about the people who apply for assistance.
What is this all leading to? The SNAP Challenge.
“The SNAP Challenge encourages participants to get a sense of what life is like for millions of low-income Americans facing hunger. By accepting the SNAP Challenge, you’ll commit to eating all of your meals from a limited food budget comparable to that of a SNAP participant – $1.50 per meal.”
I’m a week late, normally the challenge happens Sept 15-21, but well, life and a sick baby got in the way. Late is better than never, right?
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). The word supplemental means in addition to, meaning SNAP isn’t meant to provide 100% of a person’s diet. I am aware of this. Being a former SNAP recipient, however, I know darn well that the SNAP benefits often HAVE to cover 100% of the food budget because the rent still needs to be paid, medicines still need to be purchased, the power bill still needs to be paid…
The rules are simple (I changed them around a little bit to reflect cooking for a family and not an individual)
1. Pick a length of time. I have picked the week of 9/18/14 through 9/25/14. I picked this week because it is the last week of the month before my husband is paid (he’s paid once a month) and we’re typically “food poor” this week as it is. That makes it a little easier for me, I admit it.
2. Food and beverage budget for the day is equal to the current SNAP benefit of $4.50/person/day. In my family this means $31.50/day. Coupons are ok but shopping at a membership club is out.
That sounds like a lot of money for food, right? Well, not so quick there…
3. I cannot use any food previously purchased or given to us for free.
This means I have to feed my family of 7 (we actually are a family of 8 but I’m not counting my oldest child as she has a job and can purchase her own food) for about $10/meal with $1.50 left over for snacks. I anticipate breakfast to be the easiest meal. I can do lunch and dinner cheaply. I’m not sure I can swing snacks on that budget but I’m sure I’ll make it work.
What really worries me is milk. My family, including a 12 month old who was just weaned to milk, goes through 3 gallons a week. A gallon of milk here is $4.29, that’s pretty much an entire day’s worth of benefits for one person. The reality is that if we were still SNAP-dependent three individual meals would have to be sacrificed just to buy milk for the kids.
4. I will list real prices. This means if I pay $3 for a block of cheese but only use half of it, I’ll still list it as $3 because that it the real cost for the recipe. If I use leftovers for another recipe you probably will too, so I’ll list the cost as “leftover”.
I will list every meal, snack, and beverage we eat. To make the math easier I will list my costs per day. I’m not a mathematician and I’m trying not to over-complicate things and keep things relateable and practical. (meaning: PLEASE don’t send me hate mail over my math, ok? I’m doing the best I can. *I’m looking at you person who sent the nasty gram about my Amazon Pantry post!*)
So, over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about my SNAP week challenge. My schedule doesn’t allow me to blog daily, but I will post daily updates on my Facebook and Twitter accounts using the #SNAPChallenge tag.
My goal in taking this challenge is to draw attention to the problem of food insecurity in our country, and if only one of the misinformed reads this and reconsiders their view on welfare recipients, that would be gravy. Mostly, however, I want to HELP. Feeding your family on a SNAP budget isn’t easy or fun, and it does take some adjustment, but you aren’t alone.
So, off we go my friends.