Sunday, November 10, 2013

SNAP Challenge

SNAP, commonly referred to as "Food Stamps", is the supplemental nutrition assistant program for individuals and families living below the poverty line in America. It's been a hot debate in the political arena over the past few months (google it and learn for yourself). My dietetics practice group Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (HEN) has proposed a challenge for dietitians to step-up and take the "SNAP Challenge" in response to the recent budget cuts in the program.

So what exactly is the "SNAP Challenge" and why did I decide to participate? 

Well, the "SNAP challenge" is an attempt to mimic what it would be like to live on food assistance for one week (however, participants on the challenge can go longer if they desire). The maximum allowance of spending is $4 a day (or $28/ week) for one person. I found these links to be helpful at explaining it: FRAC, South Arizona Community Food bank 

I decided to participate in the challenge for several reasons. The most predominant reason being that I care about people living on a dime and believe all people should have access to healthy, wholesome food. Secondly, experiencing what many Americans (and people around the world) face on a day to day basis (Will there be enough? How can I make this food stretch? What if it goes bad? ) will help me be a better health professional. Yeah, this is only a one week experience (for now), but it sheds light on risks, barriers, and potential solutions for helping those living with food insecurity obtain optimal health. Finally, watching "A Place at the Table" in one of my public health courses really got my wheels rolling.... Here, take a sneak peak.

I spent a few hours over the weekend, thinking.... thinking about where I wanted to shop for my produce, what I should buy, what I might eat... it was a bit exhausting thinking about how I was going to plan all this. But none-the-less, I continually become more excited to do this when I thought about how creative I can be with my resources and when I saw this: plant-based eating on $25 per week

Sunday: The day before my challenge. 

I did a little more shopping than I think a person on SNAP may actually do in one day, but who knows! I guess it all is relative to where people live and what their situation is like. I hit up 2 grocery stores and the Farmers' Market. It's a bit challenging doing the SNAP for one week only since buying in "bulk" can actually be beneficial for saving money (like buying a large bag of dried beans for the month).  If I were doing this on a month-by-month basis, I would hope to stock-up on dried beans at the start of each month. The same goes for things like peanut butter and oatmeal. Those two staples, based on how I eat, would last me more than a week. But anyways.. maybe that will be experiment two. Eating like this for a whole month. 

My list

For my first stop for food, I decided to go to Aldi. 

The website featured some incredibly low prices on food. I happened to be in the area, so I dropped in. It was a little goofy... I had to put a quarter in to get a cart, but thankfully that was returned to me afterwards. 

The store was nicer than I expected. A lot of things I was not interested in.... like the packaged process stuff, but did find some cheap deals on bananas, apples, and produce. It was difficult trying to decide what I wanted to buy.. frozen or fresh? Canned or fresh? Do I want more fruit or more vegetables? Do I really want to spend $1 on a small container of blackberries? It took a bit of time contemplating these things... a bit stressful trying to keep track of prices so that I wouldn't go over my "limit." I purposely spent under $20, knowing that I was going to be going to the Farmers' Market. 

 My final total at Aldi's was $14.91...leaving me with a $10 or so to spare on food else where.


3 tomato past, 4 pounds of carrots, 7 bananas, 6 apples, broccoli, 8 sweet potatoes, blackberries, spinach, 30 servings of oats, 2 zucchini, and 1 cucumber. 

With the remainder of my money, I bought a few things at the Farmers' Market... like this fancy, ginormous "banana squash" for $2, a large head of Kale for $1, and a large cabbage for $1. 
Accepting EBT (aka SNAP)

so much cheap kale!!!! 

bigger than my head! 

Enough squash for the week! 
It was also my birthday... and my mom bought be some cabbage flowers! :) (this doesnt count for my SNAP budget)
Most beautiful flower, EVER. (and edible). 
On my way home from the Farmers' Market, my mom and I went to a co-op and I picked up some lentils, tofu, a small bag of popcorn, and flax milk for $7. I saved 10 cents since I used a reusable bag! :) (Don't forget to bring those....)

Dried beans serving size= 14. Not so bad! 

So my grand total= $26.  

Let's take a closer look.... 

Starch/ proteins: Lentils, tofu, oats, squash, sweet potatoes, popcorn seeds, flax milk, and oats

About 2 servings of fruit per day. 

The veggies for the week! 
I am a coffee lover and will be drinking it throughout the challenge. I am also factoring this into my total allowance of $28. There is NO way I will get through 30 servings of oatmeal in one week (I guess, if I am REALLY hungry I could eat 3+ servings per day... in addition to all my other food). And I don't think I will go through one of my $3.50 bags of coffee from Haiti in one week (but I guess who knows... maybe it will be a rough week). So it could also be considered an exchange between my coffee and the oats? Other "freebies" I will be doing this week include spices: pepper, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and some italian.

Upon returning home from the store, I started making my first meal--- need to pack lunch for school on Monday! What did I make?! 

PUMPKIN SOUP, of course!! 

I only used 1/2 of my pumpkin, 1/4 of my cabbage, 1/2 of a zucchini, 3 carrots, 1 cup spinach, and 1-2 cups kale... and LOOK AT ALL THIS SOUP! Might last me two...three... four meals! Maybe this will even be a snack one day? Don't worry, I also saved my pumpkin seeds! I am planning on either making some sort of dip with them or making pumpkin seeds to munch on when I am hungry! 

Other things I am planning to make this week: lentil and sweet potato dish of some sort, maybe some lentil oat burgers with sweet potato fries, creamy tomato soup (made with tofu and canned tomato)... hmmm we'll see how creative I can get! Stay tuned! 

And these.... well, the rest of my birthday "cake" is going in the freezer until AFTER my challenge week. Seriously, these were amazing!!!! 

Recipes Here: 
Chocolate Cream Pie
Banoffe Pie

1 comment:

  1. I love this and will be following to see how it goes! I'm contemplating doing my own SNAP challenge. It's so important for (future) registered dietitians to be well aware of the limited budgets of some of their clients.