For the past six days members of the Greater Chicago Food Depository staff have been taking the SNAP Challenge – eating on just $35 for seven days (the average weekly benefit of an individual living on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps).

During the Challenge, Chief Financial Officer Donald Tusek and Vice President of Supply Chain Gerry Maguire have been journaling about their experience eating for a week on just $35:

Donald Tusek

The monotony of the diet is starting to get to me.  My core dinner has been macaroni and cheese with ground beef.  It keeps me full, but the taste is bland.  I look forward to the small salad I have along with my dinner.  

My original plan was to eat the macaroni and cheese during the week and use the other whole grain pasta with a spaghetti sauce for the last couple of days.  I decided to make the pasta and marinara midweek and alternate for the remainder of the Challenge just to get more variety. 

I purchased two jars of combined peanut butter and jelly and have been taking a spoonful of that as my “dessert” after dinner.  

 
Gerry Maguire

I have had the same meals – cereal for breakfast each morning, chili for lunch and soup for dinner – everyday this week.  My snack through the day has been 3-4 pieces of fruit. While I got a good deal on the bag of apples I purchased on Day Zero, the quality of the apples is not good. Since I have spent my $35, I cannot afford to go out and buy more so I am stuck with them.

Variety of food at night has been the biggest issue. I am very bored of eating the same food. I wish I had purchased a cheaper cereal to get at least seven breakfasts out it it because I have run out. 

Check back next Monday for a recap of the Food Depository staff members’ SNAP Challenge experience and ways you can advocate for stronger nutrition safety net programs.