You see those smiles? That’s the look of relief, because the SNAP Challenge has come to a close in the Albin household! We celebrated with a hearty dinner at Cracker Barrel to our tummies’ immense delight.
In the end, our grand grocery total came to $347—about $100 over budget.
Ouch! I’ll admit that my initial optimism about making a super slice to our food spending faded somewhere between weeks two and three when I realized we only had $70 left. The last week proved most difficult. My husband had plowed through all our snacks more quickly than anticipated (Note to Self: Hide Cheez –It® crackers when I get home), and I was trying really hard not to grocery shop again. Plus, we both got home later than usual several nights in a row, which always zaps my cooking motivation. So, I can’t say I’m surprised by our defeat. Just a bit disappointed.
As I reflect on the experience, that feeling of guilt was heavy throughout the month of January. It’s really hard not being able to splurge on your favorite treat or resisting the temptation to eat out. Blame it on Old Man Winter in part, but I think the Challenge made me downright grouchy! I guess I had not realized how much happiness food brings me. This seems unhealthy (and a little pathetic), but I don’t think I’m alone in my food-mood connection.
I hope I remember this the next time a client comes across as unnecessarily grumpy. Perhaps he or she is just hungry!
I was also struck by our struggle to succeed at the Challenge given that we faced few built-in obstacles. We only had two stomachs to please, which makes things easier for sure. We also have a strong support network, who would help us out in a hurry if we truly lacked food. Importantly, we live in the opposite of a food desert… maybe call it a food rainforest? That’s right: Balmy, exotic Independence, Mo.—ha! We can choose from six or seven different stores that sell groceries within three miles of our house. That’s simply not the reality for SNAP beneficiaries in many neighborhoods throughout our community.
Overall, our relief at the end of the Challenge is accompanied by the genuine realization of how blessed we are. For us, the SNAP restrictions were temporary. Optional, really.