It was almost a year ago that I stumbled upon Michael Nolan’s Food Stamp Challenge . My family had been receiving food stamps ,or SNAP (or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the USDA now calls it) for awhile. I was inspired to start blogging about our experience. I believe I intended to write one post, say what I needed to say , and be done with it. What happened was different . Not only in comments, I received emails and private messages via other social networking from people in the same boat, feeling the same things, living the same (or quite often, worse) experience. I decided one post was not enough. There was an opportunity to raise awareness surrounding the issue of food security. There were also people struggling who needed some words of support and a little guidance on how to make living on food stamps be more like living and less like a fight.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything that needs to be said but since it’s been almost a year that I’ve been yammering on at my end about what it’s like, it seems like a good idea to give other people a turn to talk. I give thee:
Aw, SNAP! : A Food Stamp Budget Challenge
(I need to make a fancy button now, don’t I?)
Participants in food stamp challenges connect to the reality of what feeding themselves and their family is like with a strict, low budget with no wiggle room. If one if considering participating in this sort of challenge, they are problem already empathetic to the issue of poverty & food insecurity. Living within the same budget a food stamp recipient lives on makes it a “walk in someone else’s shoes” experience.
- Using this table , find the state you live in. That is what your food budget allowance will be per person. The table is representative of a monthly allowance. Divide by 4 to get your weekly amount.Use that amount per person to find your weekly budget.
- You can run your challenge as long as you like, with a minimum of one week. Do only just that week or a whole month. It’s up to you.
- The budget allotment is for food only. This also includes any dining out or coffee shop stops.
- To make it easy, purchase a pre-paid debit or giftcard for the exact amount of the budget you’re working with. Use it as a food stamp recipient would their EBT (Electronic Benefits Card) .
- You can use any items you had previous to the challenge already in your pantry
- If you need ideas for menu planning,there are some great resources here.
- There is no time limit or calendar you need to schedule your challenge around. This is an open,ongoing challenge. Do it whenever works for you.
- If you receive WIC, you can use it.
- If you have a garden or farm animals, you absolutely can use them.
Blog or Guest Blog About It!
- If you don’t have a blog of your own, I offer up my blog for you to have a guest spot to share your experience. Contact me to work out the details.
- During your challenge, take pictures of your grocery receipts, food, or anything related to the challenge.
- Tell about your menu and include recipes.
- Share your general thoughts and feelings and what you gained/learned ,if anything. There’s no right or wrong outcome here. Individual experiences will vary and that’s perfect. If you’re experience was negative or positive, it’s all good and worth hearing.
- If you use supplemental rograms like WIC or a pantry, make sure you mention them.
- If you use your garden, home canned goods,and your own livestock, make sure you mention those,too.
- If you have a blog of your own, post your experiences there and link back here.
- If you’re doing the challenge for more than a week, you’re more than welcome to have as many posts and share as much as you need to.
Challenge? Pfft! I LIVE like this!
If you’re a SNAP recipient , mi blog es su blog.Contact me to do a guest post. Or if you have a blog of your own, feel free to write about it and share the link in the Mr Linky link-up below.
Also, if you are low income but have been denied SNAP because you’re JUST over the eligibility requirements…by all means, share a post with us. Chances are, your grocery budget is even less than the average allotment for SNAP. I know how that works.
Some people think that the food stamp table allows too much and that it’s no challenge at all. I would like to remind people that the amounts listed are an average. Many families don’t get that amount. My own family who receives SNAP gets $652 per month for our family of 7. So, $23/person each week. Our old amount was $452/month for the 7 of us. So, I give those people another challenge…
The Extreme Austerity Challenge
Same rules apply as above. Just use half the amount for your budget.
Also, if you’re an extreme couponer and have stockpiles of boxed and canned foods, I don’t think you would get the real essence of the challenge. The majority of people who suddenly have an event that deems them eligible for SNAP do not have such a resource to fall back on.