Take the Challenge
The SNAP Challenge gives participants a view of what life can be like for millions of low-income Americans. Most participants take the Challenge for one week, living on the average daily food stamp benefit (about $4 per person per day). Challenge participants find they have to make difficult food shopping choices, and often realize how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy.
FRAC has supported and fostered SNAP Challenges to help educate the public and opinion leaders about what it means to live on a limited budget. With help from The Hatcher Group, FRAC developed a toolkit for Members of Congress (pdf). FRAC also has created materials to help organizations mount Challenges of their own.
The Challenge first captured public attention in 2006 when FRAC allies in Philadelphia, Pa. hosted one, followed by groups in Wichita, Kansas. The Challenge took the national stage in 2007 when four Members of Congress – Representatives James McGovern (D-Mass.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) – pledged to live for week on an average food stamp budget and blogged about their experiences.
Since then, hundreds – if not thousands – of people have taken the challenge, including Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, mayors, advocates for elderly persons and children, religious and community leaders, reporters, and average citizens have taken the Challenge. They have educated themselves and their communities about SNAP/Food Stamps, bolstered the public’s understanding of the Program, and often created new anti-hunger advocates.
While living on a food stamp budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding.