As we mentioned in a previous post, several students at Blythewood High School recently participated in the SNAP Challenge. The SNAP Challenge asks participants to live on the same budget as people living on food stamps, approximately $4 per person per day for a week. In honor of the upcoming National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 12-18), we’ll be sharing these reflections periodically with our readers.
I enjoyed doing the Snap Challenge because it opened my eyes to the hardships and struggles that many families have to go through. One of the biggest challenges that I had was that in the family I was assigned, I had a diabetic, so we had a little more trouble trying to find food that we could afford, and he was still able to eat. For the Snap Challenge, we had to have foods from all the food groups in a day for nutrient, but it was difficult to have healthy foods because they were more expensive than foods that aren’t as healthy. We had to ration because we didn’t have the money to just spend on anything. We had to have money set aside for bills, and some for groceries, and by then, you don’t have any money left for luxury items. You have more important things to take care of such as electricity bills and heating.
This challenge definitely made me realize what Atticus, one of the main characters in the book we are reading in class To Kill a Mockingbird, meant when he said, “you don’t understand a person’s way until you walk in their shoes.” It makes me see just how blessed and lucky I am. It makes me want to help people in that situation.
The Snap Challenge was a very interesting challenge; it was fun, too. In the Snap Challenge we had to get into groups and we were given a family. The family scenario I had was a traditional two parent, two children family. We were given $4 a day multiplied by how many people are in the family. My family had a total of $92 for a week. We had to create a 7-day menu, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The most challenging meal was lunch because we tried not to be cheap, but also have a healthy meal at the same time that was big enough for four people. It also was a challenge trying not to duplicate the meals more than twice. When doing the Snap Challenge, we didn’t make nutrition our main focus. We focused on the prices and the great deals that were available.
At the end of the Snap Challenge, we had about $40 or maybe $50 left; we didn’t add any luxury meals, like desserts. I learned to be grateful for what you have, because even though you may not believe it, someone is always willing and wishing that they could trade places with you. Everyone should do the Snap Challenge. It shows children what their parents have to go through to keep a roof over their heads and as easy as it may look, it’s not.
These students realized the sacrifices families living in poverty have to make to meet their basic needs. Things that we may take for granted, such as dessert, are considered luxury items for a family living on food stamps. Prioritizing shelter and bills over food is an everyday reality for many families, and as these students learned, you can’t always use your money for what you want when you have a family to support.
Check the blog next time for more reflections, and if you’re interested in taking the SNAP Challenge in your family please let us know so we can share your experiences as well! Thank you, students of Richland Northeast for LIVING UNITED!