November 16th will mark the beginning of the Sacramento Hunger Coalition’s seven-day Food Stamp Challenge. The premise is simple: anyone can participate, but can only eat what they can buy for $4.90 per day, a little over $34 for the week. Sorry, no stocking up on snacks from the office, either. The idea is to turn something abstract like “food stamps” into a number that impacts real lives. $4.90 per day is about how much one can expect to receive through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or CalFresh, formerly known as Food Stamps.
“This is one of the best ways to learn about the nutrition hurdles that many people in our community face every day,” according to a recent Sacramento Housing Alliance newsletter. The challenge, sponsored by the Hunger Coalition (a project of the SHA), is an attempt to garner more attention to the struggles of low income households. It could also be seen as a way to fight the stigma SNAP and CalFresh recipients face as so-called “takers”. With only $4.90 a day to work with and given certain restrictions set by the Department of Social Services, it becomes obvious that assistance of this kind is not the free ride some believe it to be.
Aside from the fact that many healthy options are not always the most affordable, there are other limitations recipients face as well. For example, for the most part, no food purchased through CalFresh assistance may be heated in the store. These are hurdles that participants of the challenge must consider, and that actual recipients face every day.
All are encouraged to accept the challenge. Even if you are unable to complete it, it is still a chance to gain a new appreciation for what it means to receive government assistance, as well as save some money on groceries until the challenge ends on November 22nd.
Though this challenge is a great learning opportunity, it is also important to remember that entering this challenge is a choice. For many Sacramentans, however, it is a necessity.