The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is a vital piece of the federal food and nutrition safety net, aiming to alleviate hunger by providing a means for low-income households to purchase food. More than 47 million Americans use SNAP benefits to put food on the table.
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 about $5 per day worth of food – the average benefit. Challenge participants are forced to make food shopping choices on a limited budget, and often realize how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy with too few resources.
Members of Congress, governors, state officials, journalists and other community leaders have taken the Challenge and have learned firsthand what it is like to try to make ends meet on the average SNAP benefit.
While living on a SNAP 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.
Suggested week: Sept. 16-22
- Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount is $35/week or $5/day for all food and beverage.
- All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
- During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own - this does not include spices and condiments.
- Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.
- Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.
- Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.
- Share your SNAP Challenge story. Post updates on Facebook and Twitter and tag them with #SNAPchallenge.