Second Harvest Community Food Bank Blog
My SNAP Challenge - Day 4
by Chad Higdon, Executive Director
So before my daughter went to bed last tonight, she comes in to tell me congratulations. A little perplexed, I asked her what for and she tells me because I did it. It then dawned on me, it is Wednesday night and I have survived my five days of living on a $4.50 food allowance. So in the grand scheme of things, yes I accomplished my goal of purchasing an amount of food within that allotment and still had some change to spare and can now go back to choosing to take my food intake habits for granted if I wish.
On the first day of my SNAP Challenge, I spent $12.89 on bread, eggs, cheese, bologna, chips, ramen noodles, a can of tuna, mayonnaise and beef ravioli which left $9.61 in my budget.
On the third day, I went back to the store and spent an additional $6.15 on butter, a few bananas, apples and peaches and a can of tomato soup, leaving $3.46.
Last night, while coaching my son’s ballgame, I spent $1.00 on a package of sunflower seeds, and yesterday, I bought a soda at the gas station for $1.25. With forty-five minutes left in the night, I can splurge on a late night snack with the $1.21 I have remaining if I so desire. So as my daughter informed me I actually did it, I lived on a food stamp budget for five days.
The first day I went without eating anything and only drank water. The second day I became sick and realized I may rely a little too heavily on my caffeinated beverages. By the third day, I was managing a little better but still felt a slight headache throughout the day. Venturing to the grocery store and picking up some fruit gave me a nice pick me up at that point.
On Monday night we sat down as a family and ate grilled cheese together. There is no better word than awesome to describe how it feels for your family to want to eat grilled cheese with you because you have cheese and bread and butter in your allowable food intake. I never thought I would have fun with this experience by cooking eggs and toast for my kids before school.
While in earnest I can say I had fun with this, it certainly cannot be fun to juggle the many issues folks, like the individuals being served lunch at the Open Door Food Kitchen struggle with when I visited Tuesday. I was very relieved when Director Dan Moyer offered me a cup of coffee, the first thing I had to drink other than water since Friday. And the glass of milk I had was a slight change of course from the normal routine, but overall I’m glad I had the opportunity to volunteer on site and partake in the afternoon meal. The highlight of this visit was certainly when the nice gentleman volunteering behind the counter offered lunch through a gift card to the Vietnam vet that went through the line, and it took about all I had to keep it in at that point. And if you know me, I’m not that emotional of a person.
This entire experience has really helped me take a closer look at my personal eating habits, helped me see into the perspective of many we serve on a daily basis, and it helped me understand how much of an influence I am on my own children. Which leads me to one conclusion, one way we may be able to actually impact poverty is through education.
If there is one thing I would encourage through all of this is simply to do what you can to really see the issues facing your own community. Do what I did and spend a day working at the Open Door Food Kitchen, or reach out to Interserv and volunteer to deliver home delivered meals. Come down to Second Harvest and volunteer in Fresh Start, Your Community Market or assist with a delivery route once per month of commodities to income eligible seniors. There are many pantries throughout the region where they would be delighted to have you stop in and ask what you can do to help.
I am very glad that I went through with the Challenge, and did my best not to bend the rules and make this as realistic as I could. It’s always different when I know what I can eat, but then still look in the fridge or pantry and see the food that really is there if I really did have a need to eat. I can only imagine what this would look like if there really weren’t other food in my house that I had as a backup plan. Today, I’ve been invited to lunch at the Oldtowne Cafe in Allendale, Missouri, so while this challenge has been a great experience that I will always remember, I have no regrets about what I might eat for lunch tomorrow. If you are ever near Allendale, Missouri stop at this place and you will then know why I say this. So while I’m making no promises about what I choose to eat today and whether or not this will affect my eating habits thereafter is yet to be determined.
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