That’s about the average amount Coloradans receive from food stamps, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Nearly 1 in 10 Coloradans struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table, whether due to a job loss, health issue, minimum-wage job or misfortune in their life. 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.
The food stamp budget, on average in Colorado, equates to only about $1.40 per meal or $29.40 per week. What if that’s all you had to spend on groceries? Would you be able to eat healthy and thrive?
We challenge YOU to try eating healthy 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.)
Download our flier about the Food Stamp Challenge, which includes 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 try and eat healthy on food stamps. This means spending only $4.20 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 consecutive 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 may 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:
- Hot food or any food that you eat in-store
- Pet food
- Alcoholic beverages
- Medicine and vitamins
- Non-edible household items like diapers, soap, laundry detergent or toilet paper
RESOURCES: Trying to eat healthy on a food stamp budget
- Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day (free, online cookbook by Leanne Brown)
- Eating Right When Money is Tight (USDA SNAP-Ed)
- “What’s Cooking?” Recipe Finder (USDA)
- Cooking Matters recipes & tips
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 your thoughts or yourself with a smartphone. Did you feel deprived or restricted? Did you eat differently than usual? Were you hungry? What did you learn from this experience?
- 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 others have. See past blog posts.
- Post about the Challenge on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share daily updates, recipes used, photos of your purchased food and meals, and an end-of-the-week recap. Use the hashtags #SNAPChallenge and #EndHungerCO to engage more people in the conversation. Post on Hunger Free Colorado’s Facebook page and tag our Twitter and Instagram handle, @HungerFreeCO, for possible re-posts.
- 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.
Read William’s experience and other recaps about the Food Stamp Challenge on our blog. Also, 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. You also can read past Food Stamp Challenge posts on the Hunger Free Colorado blog.