Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beginning of the SNAP Challenge

As I would on any normal shopping day at home, I drove to Weis Markets Sunday night to pick up groceries. However, tonight was different because I was shopping on a limited budget. I reminded myself to stick to the necessities that I would need to sustain myself for 5 days to best provide an adequate amount of nutrients that I can to keep my body healthy and happy.

My cart was less full than usual. When I do shop for myself, I usually take advantage of the snack deals, such as Cheez-Its, which are $1.79 this week at Weis. I knew that I had to avoid snacks because I needed enough nutrition to sustain throughout the week. I am an avid cooker and usually buy enough to treat my roommates to dinner but this time I had barely enough for myself.

As I stepped in the check out line my mind was frantically trying to calculate how much I was spending. I had two coupons in hand, one 55 cents off a 16 oz jar of peanut butter and the other 45 cents off a package of 12-grain bread. I also had a shoppers club card that would lower some of the costs. I had calculated what I was spending as I was walking though the store, but I knew there would be some variations with the apples and sweet potatoes that I was purchasing since I was guessing the weight of each. My total was at $23.70, $1.20 over my original budget.

For the next 5 days, I will be participating in the SNAP Challenge, living off of $4.50 ($1.50 per meal) for 5 days. SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps. SNAP provides benefits to families who struggle to put food on the table. It is a great program to have in place to help feed the hungry in our country, however, much of the time it isn't enough. We all feel the weight of food prices consistently rising because of high gas prices. Organic and/or locally produced food seems to only be available for the rich considering many of the products cost just about the same amount that a person using SNAP would have available to spend in one day. This is why I have decided to take the challenge, to bring awareness to the high price of food and the inaccessibility of fresh food for much of our population.

Throughout the week, I will be blogging about my experiences eating on a "SNAP Diet". I will be taking a systematic approach as I explore the social, economic, and psychological perspectives of a person using SNAP. I am in no way trying to patronize people who receive benefits for this program, I am trying to gain an understanding of a system that I desperately want to work to improve as I move forward into my career. This challenge is a bit skewed from the perspective of a college student because I have yet to supply for myself. I do have an apartment where I have access to a kitchen and I buy groceries on occasion. However, I am still on a 7-meal per week meal plan and receive one free meal per day because of my job. I have many food options at my disposal throughout the day. Even when I am short on money, I can always walk to the nearest dining hall and swipe my card to enter a world of unlimited food with a wide variety of choices. This week I will not be swiping my card at all and I will not take advantage of any free meals or food available to me. I will be eating solely the items that I bought for the challenge.

Follow along with me as I write about my experiences for the next few days and please feel free to leave comments as well!

Help me to bring awareness and put a STOP to hunger!

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