SNAP Hunger Challenge: Trying to Eat on $4.50 a Day

Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
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A meal at a soup kitchen in the Bronx. (Photo: Reuters Pictures).

Thirty bucks a week.

That's how much money the average person on food stamps is given to feed himself. That breaks down to $4.50 per day—not exactly the stuff that smorgasbords are made of.

But in 2009, at least 31 million Americans per month used government assistance to put food on their dinner plates.

To highlight the challenge low-income families face scraping by on such meager spending, Feeding Illinois, the state's leading food bank, is calling on individuals to take their SNAP Hunger Challenge.

The Challenge is named after the new food stamp acronym: the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

From September 19 to 25, challenge participants can spend up to $4.50 per day on their meals. The challenge is meant to underscore how difficult it is for low-income families to access high-quality, nutritious food on a food stamps budget.

Chicago Tribune reporter Monica Eng is among the journalists and bloggers who are documenting their belt-tightened meals (hint: a lot of beans and grains). 

Food stamp challenges are not new. Food banks around the country are hosting their own in conjunction with Hunger Action Month and to raise awareness about the persistent problem of hunger in America.

Anti-hunger organizations are warning that unless a temporary boost to food stamp outlays from the 2009 federal stimulus package is renewed, the already small daily dollar amount could drop even lower—to $3 per day. The cuts loom even as the census has shown a sharp increase in the number of poor families in the U.S.

Even if you don't have the time or the stomach to take a food stamp challenge, think about using a few helpful tips to donate to your local food bank. 

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