Take the Food Stamp Challenge

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That’s the average amount Coloradans receive from food stamps, federally know as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Nearly 1 in 7 Coloradans struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table, whether due to a minimum-wage job, job loss, health issue or simply bad luck. Food stamps help families and individuals purchase groceries, giving them access to the fuel needed for better, healthier lives and stronger communities…though it’s not always enough for three healthy meals every day.

TWe Challenge You 1024x915 Take the Food Stamp Challengehe food stamp budget, on average in Colorado, equates to only $1.38 per meal or $29.98 per week. What if that’s all you had to spend on groceries?

We challenge YOU to try living on such a food budget for at least one week. The Food Stamp Challenge not only sheds light on what it’s like to live on such a limited budget, but it can raise awareness of existing barriers like lack of access to high-quality, nutritious food. Let us know if you participate!

Find out how to participate in the Food Stamp Challenge, read what other participants are saying, and share your experience during and after the Challenge. (You also can download our flier about the Challenge.)


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Download our flier about the Food Stamp Challenge, with this list and other information.

This challenge is open to all individuals and involves living on limited food budget for one week, so you can get a sense of what it would be like to subsist on food stamps. This means spending only $4.14 per day, per person, on everything that you eat, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, seasonings and drinks.

How the Challenge works:Groceries 851x1024 Take the Food Stamp Challenge

  • It will last for seven straight days.
  • Spend no more than the allotted amount 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 seasonings, 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 cannot be purchased with food stamps:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Cigarettes
  • Hot food or any food that you eat in-store
  • Medicine and vitamins
  • Non-edible household items like diapers, soap, laundry detergent or toilet paper



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Food Stamp 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. Email us and let us know if you participate! 

  • Do a daily journal or video diary, recording yourself with your smartphone. Did you feel deprived or restricted? Did you eat differently than usual? Were you hungry?
  • Blog about it. Post your daily journal or video diary online, or simply write posts for your own blog or community newspaper. Include photos of your purchased food and meals. Consider doing a guest blog for Hunger Free Colorado like William, Kelly and Jeremy did.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Post photos on Instagram and Pinterest, sharing your purchased food, meals and experience with the Challenge. 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.
  • Give a presentation about your experience and invite a representative from Hunger Free Colorado to provide insight into the issue and solutions for eradicating hunger.
  • Contact your community or neighborhood newspapers, and see if they would let you write a guest column about your experience.
  • Encourage others to take the Food Stamp Challenge. When sharing your experience, ask others if they would be interested in trying it for one week. 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 create a hunger-free Colorado. There’s a place for you at the table. Learn more about what you can do today and in the future.



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Read Kelly’s story, Jeremy’s experience and/or Andy’s recap with the Food Stamp Challenge, as well as watch Kristen’s video blog focusing on her reflections. They’re just a few Colorado residents who have participated and shared their experiences with us and others.

Many celebrities, politicians and residents (like you!) have done the Challenge to shed light on what it’s like to live on such a limited food budget and raise awareness about the issue of hunger. Search the hashtag #SNAPChallenge on social media to see current participant comments and musings.