Get excited, friends and followers: It’s time for the SNAP Challenge to commence in the Albin household! If you’re not familiar, the SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Challenge is an experiment in empathy that encourages people to live on a very lean food budget for a week or month at a time.
In Missouri, the average benefit to SNAP, better known as food stamps, recipients was $124.18/month,
by most recent report: usda.gov//snap/2015-State-Activity-Report. That means my family of two (plus our canine and feline friends, but I suppose they get a pass) must stick to a total food budget—that’s both groceries and eating out, folks—of $248.36. Happy New Year to us, huh?!
So why on Earth am I eager to do this, you might ask….
1. I love a good challenge! I do care management with older adults for my day job here at JFS. Many of my clients exist on SNAP benefits alone. They’re frank with me about the hardship of affording healthy and tasty options with food stamps. Many struggle to make their food dollars last throughout the month. Is it really that hard, I’ve often wondered (quietly in my head, of course). Here’s my chance to find out…
2. I’m a bit bored–with our diet, that is! Lately, meal planning feels like torture. I’m looking forward to finding new recipes that contain affordable ingredients. This challenge will definitely force me to spice things up a bit and get creative in the kitchen. Stay tuned for pics. I promise!
3. Budgeting is fun…no, really! There’s almost nothing more empowering than achieving a financial goal, and I love working with clients on saving and spending issues. The SNAP Challenge slices our normal food budget by at least $150-200, which presents a number crunching nightmare for even the nerdiest of financial literacy champions (umm, that would be me!). Still, I’m optimistic we can make it work with some careful planning, dedication, and maybe spiritual intervention.
4. And most importantly, compassion fatigue is real, yo! Even the best of helping professionals will begin to burn out when they hear people’s sad stories over and over each day. I’ve been working with low-income clients for about five years now, and it’s time to take a real walk in their shoes for a while. When I say, “That must be hard,” or “I’m so sorry you’re going through this,” I want to genuinely mean it. I’m hoping the SNAP Challenge adds a new perspective to my work, magnifying in me the character traits I so value in others—generosity, humility, and compassion.
So let’s do this! I’ll post weekly photos and updates on our progress. And I expect y’all to keep us accountable.
You can find the complete rules for the challenge here: site.foodshare.org/snapchallenge. Ready, set, SNAP!