This week is SNAP Challenge week, when we ask people to try living on a SNAP budget of $4 per person per day for food. Foodshare Office Administrator, Joan Robinson, is taking part and sent me these reflections on the first day of the Challenge.
"I tried to come up with some really good excuses to justify not taking part in the SNAP Challenge this year. With every excuse I came up with I came up with two reasons to take the Challenge.
"I made my grocery list with only $28.00 to spend for one week. I was surprised to find so many items on my list that I could not afford. I purchased a whole chicken, vegetables and rice; a safe and inexpensive meals. As I was shopping I noticed my body was crunched up hoping no one saw me struggling on what I could afford or not. I was looking at the pasta and thought I could make lasagna. As I was debating with myself, I finally decided I could not afford to. When I was putting the pasta and sauce back on the shelf that was when I noticed a woman watching me. She gave me the nicest understanding smile. It’s hard to describe what I was feeling. I felt compassion and kindness from her then I felt embarrassed because I new in a few days I would come back and do my 'regular' shopping again.
"I am into my fifth day of the Challenge. I am missing my glass of wine at night while I enjoy watching Anderson Cooper. I have had a few headaches in the past few days, which I am certain is from the lack of caffeine and this morning I woke up hungry. I opened my refrigerator door, looked at all the options for a hearty breakfast, eggs, fruit, a little home fries and OJ. Oh, I miss my OJ. I expect by Thursday morning my stomach might let out a growler or two and I’m sure it will happen just at the pivotal moment during the Board meeting.
"For me, taking this Challenge is not about the food, it’s about the kids and those first time adults walking into a grocery store knowing they could not purchase anything they liked. The Challenge has invited me to a place of humility, compassion and openness to what is to come."