It’s Sunday night which marks the end of my week of living on a food stamp budget of $31.50. I haven’t fully processed the last seven days yet, but starting tomorrow I’ll be away for a bit, so I’m going to try to put some thoughts down now. I hope that I’ll blog further down the line, when I have had more chance to — you’ll excuse the word — digest the experience.
Tomorrow I go back to carefree eating. Once more the threat of being hungry won’t be an issue. Fruits and veggies will reassert their place in my meals. I’ll have options beyond water when I am thirsty. And dessert will always be an option.
The SNAP Food Stamp Challenge is an excellent exercise. It has sparked my brain to issues like hunger, need, waste, and food justice. From shopping to planning my meals, to consuming them, I have thought about food more this week than ever before. But ultimately, of course, it was just an exercise. I knew as each day passed that I was 24 hours closer to getting back to “normal.” I don’t know what it’s like for this to be my normal. I always had a vision of a finish line in my mind, and I am very aware that others live this challenge with no sense of when if ever they may cross that line.
Still, I recommend that anyone with even a slight interest take the Challenge. It’s an opportunity — if only on a small scale — to see how 45 million of our friends, neighbors, and relatives get through a week with limited funds to sustain themselves and their families. Shopping strategies must be deployed, meals planned in advance, a day’s movements choreographed to avoid hunger. There’s just more involved to getting through the day comfortably than I would have imagined.
While I think everyone would benefit from taking the Challenge, I absolutely believe we should blog, tweet, dial, and shout until every politician who casts a vote on legislation that will affect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has taken the Food Stamp Challenge. Let’s make them walk a mile. Just one.
To find the Member of Congress who represents you:
If you want guidance on taking the Challenge:
If you’d like to donate to Mazon:
I will write more when I’ve had time to ponder the past week. For now, I’ll end with a story about my son. A few years back, when he was 6 or 7, I took him to a toy store. As we left, we noticed a scruffy-looking man unsuccessfully begging change from other shoppers. Entering the store, exiting the store, everyone walked by him. I stopped and gave him something, and when we got back to the car, my son said “Daddy, how come no else could see that man?”
With the innocence and menschy heart that I think most kids are born with, he couldn’t conceive of a world where people would see someone so clearly in need and choose to walk by. I think of his words often, because it’s easy to get wrapped up in my own problems and forget that there’s a world around me. I’m grateful to have taken the SNAP Challenge because it has reminded me to see.