Kelly: SNAP — or snap!


I’ve been wondering about the intent behind the new food stamps acronym, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). When they renamed it, were they trying to imply, “Lucky you, getting assistance and buying food will be a snap!” Or were they implying, “Snap! We know this sucks, but do your best.”

I’m thinking it’s the latter.

Making A SNAP Decision To Live On $3.95 A Day

With more Minnesotans than ever before relying on food shelves and food stamps to alleviate hunger, Kevin Winge, executive director of Open of Arms of Minnesota, is taking the SNAP challenge-living on a one-week food budget of $27.65 – the approximate amount of money an individual receives in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) support, formerly known as food stamps. That comes to $3.95 a day-the cost of a single cappuccino. Kevin’s SNAP challenge goes from November 18 to Thanksgiving Day. Other community members joined in on slightly different schedules.

Community members can participate in this SNAP challenge by:

  1. Taking the challenge themselves and living on $27.65 for a week.
  2. Donating the money saved from grocery purchases and contributing those savings to nonprofit organizations addressing nutrition and hunger issues.
  3. Making a donation in the amount of $27.65 to Open Arms or a food shelf as an acknowledgment of the seriousness of food insecurity in Minnesota.

I went home early from work yesterday. I had a headache, teetering on a migrane, and I was exhausted. Literally, I couldn’t focus on anything, and all I could do was dream of sleeping. Low energy is unusual for me, especially since we modified our eating habits to fresh, whole foods over the past five months. Here it was, only day one-and-a-half of having no coffee (because we couldn’t afford it) and eating an over-abundance of carbohydrates (because we could afford it) and I was miserable. By noon that day, I had eaten four pieces of white bread between breakfast and lunch. Add to that, cereal in the morning, and I was running on not enough protein and, heaven forbid, no caffeine.

So, I went home and took three more ibuprophen, slept for an hour, then broke down and drank coffee while eating left over meat loaf from the night before (protein, yay!). I felt remarkably better, albeit guilty.

Today is a better day and I’ve rearranged some of our menu items in order to space my carbs throughout the day instead of all at once. It seems to be helping. And yes, I had coffee this morning. Sorry.

Of course, my week will come to an end, and I will go back to fresh vegetables and fruits. But what about the neighbors in our community who don’t have that luxury? I’m saddened by the statistics of Minnesotans now accessing SNAP assistance: over 440,000 people this year alone, and that is up from 329,000 last year at this time. That’s not even mentioning the run on food shelves.

Simply focusing on what SNAP users are presented as options at the grocery store (based on the money they receive), how do people stay healthy living on this little each month? I’m sure many people do it, and do it well. In fact, I know many do, as I’ve heard from them already over the last couple days. And I raise my glass of water to you all.

But for me, the SNAP acronym still carries this meaning: I’m trying my best, but snap! This sucks.