Could you feed yourself three nutritious meals a day with only $4.57?
That’s the average amount 500,000 Coloradans are receiving from food stamps, federally know as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Thousands of our neighbors subsist on such a budget for themselves and their families through their food stamp benefits. The federal nutrition program provides households with the financial resources to purchase groceries—literally putting food on tables for millions of American children, adults and seniors; giving them the fuel to better their lives and create stronger, healthier communities.
Many families survive entirely on the food acquired through their food stamp benefits — whether due to a minimum-wage job, job loss, health issue or simply bad luck. That budget, on average, equates to only $34.25 per week. What if that’s all you had to spend on groceries?
This challenge is open to all individuals and involves living on what would be the weekly food stamps allowance in Colorado for an entire week, so you can get a sense of what it would be like to subsist on food stamps. This means spending only $4.57 per day, per person, on everything that you eat, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, seasonings and drinks.
How the challenge works:
- It will last for seven straight days.
- Spend no more than $4.57 per day, including beverages.
- Only buy and eat/drink items that are allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits.
- Don’t use food already on hand unless you deduct the value from your daily amount. Salt and pepper do not count against the daily cost allowance, but all other seasoning, cooking oils, condiments, snacks and drinks do.
- Try to include fresh produce and a healthy protein each day.
- Don’t accept food from family, friends, co-workers and others. Avoid free food anywhere.
- No outside food or dining out is permitted since you cannot use food stamp benefits on hot meals.
- You many need to cut coupons or search grocery paper ads on days that items are discounted.
- Keep a log of what was bought and eaten for each meal, as well as grocery receipts.
- Keep a daily journal of the experience. Did you feel deprived or restricted? Did you eat differently than usual? Were you hungry?
What you can purchase with food stamp benefits:
- Produce and canned goods
- Meat and dairy products
- Dried goods, beans and rice
- Breads and cereals
- Baby food and infant formula
- Soda, chips and candy
- Coffee and tea
- Seeds (whether for eating or planting)
What is not allowed through SNAP:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Hot food or any food that you eat in-store
- Medicine and vitamins
- Non-edible household items like paper towels, toilet paper and soap
Food Stamp (SNAP) Challenge participants are encouraged to keep a daily journal and share their experiences—during and after the challenge—with Hunger Free Colorado, as well as with their friends, family and others.
- Blog about it. Post your daily journal online or write posts for your own blog. Include photos of your purchased food and meals. Consider doing a guest blog for Hunger Free Colorado like Kelly and Jeremy did.
- Tweet using the national hashtag #SNAPChallenge. Share your thoughts, photos, links to your blog posts and facts about hunger in Colorado. Use our handle, @HungerFreeCO, for possible retweets and continued conversation about the challenge.
- Use Facebook to share daily updates, photos and an end-of-the-week recap with your friends. Post on Hunger Free Colorado’s Facebook page to continue the conversation with our “fans” as well as for possible sharing with their followers.
- Post photos on Instagram and Pinterest, sharing your purchased food and meals. Use the hashtag #SNAPChallenge.
- Use your voice—talk about your experience with others. Did you come away with greater awareness and understanding for the hunger challenges that affect so many in our state? Have discussions with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and others in social circle. Share your experience with members of your church, civic organizations and other clubs. Invite a representative from Hunger Free Colorado to provide insight into the issue and solutions surrounding hunger in Colorado.
- Encourage others to take the Food Stamp (SNAP) Challenge. When sharing your experience, ask others if they would be interested in participating. Share this web page, too.
After taking the challenge, we urge you to become more involved in the fight against hunger. Everyone must be a part of the solution if we want to end hunger in Colorado. There’s a place for you at the table. Learn more about what you can do today and in the future.
Many celebrities, politicians and neighbors—like you—have taken the Food Stamp (SNAP) Challenge to shed light on what it’s like to live on such a limited food budget and raise awareness of the barriers that exist for accessing high-quality, nutritious food. Search the hashtag #SNAPChallenge on Twitter to see current participant comments and musings.
Read Kelly’s story and Jeremy’s experience with the Food Stamp (SNAP) Challenge, as well as watch Kristen’s vlog (video blog) focusing on her reflections. They are just three Colorado professionals who have participated and shared their experiences with us and others.