For Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Social Action and Integrative Learning (SAIL) will be hosting the SNAP challenge. From November 15-22, we invite you to participate in the SNAP Hunger Challenge and live on $4.13 a day for seven days. (Note: If you live in a different state, we encourage you to follow the average for your state) $128/month was the average amount individuals in Virginia were receiving from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in 2019, though it varies greatly due to family size, income etc.
To qualify for SNAP, a household generally has to meet two income thresholds: total income and net income (that is, total income minus deductions for things like child support, some medical expenses, and some housing costs). The SNAP formula assumes that households will spend 30 percent of their income on food, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, but for many low-income Americans, 30 percent of income is not enough to eat.
So when the average person gets a little over $4 a day in benefits, the SNAP formula assumes that person has other money to spend on food. The government doesn't in fact expect people to live on $4 a day. However, there are challenges inherent within access to food and how we address food insecurity and poverty in the US that this challenge can highlight. We recognize this is a part of a larger and more complex social issue around hunger and poverty and can oversimplify poverty in the US and will work to provide education opportunities and activities that address some of these complexities. Our hope and goal is that this has an impact long past the event to have a better understanding of the power imbalances and inequity related to food insecurity in our community.
The SNAP challenge is an educational campaign where people are encouraged to budget as a person in the US on SNAP for just one week. The SNAP Challenge gives participants a glimpse into some of the struggles faced by millions of low-income Americans who are trying to put food on their tables. The Challenge provides an opportunity for participants to experience how difficult it is for families living on SNAP to simultaneously avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy with limited resources.
What you can purchase with food stamp/SNAP benefits:
What is not allowed through SNAP:
Share your experience:
SNAP Challenge participants are encouraged to keep a daily journal and share their experiences—during and after the challenge—with SAIL as well as their friends, family and others. We just ask that you be mindful that your experience is your own. Recognize the privileges that mitigate your discomfort during the SNAP Challenge (employment, transportation, free time, etc.). Subsisting on $4 per day is just one aspect of poverty. Your fast has an end date, while SNAP recipients continuously live with the uncertainty of where the next meal is coming from.
Participants who join us for the kickoff, closing and share a quick reflection whether through a social media post, blog post or video blog will receive a SAIL Swag bag including a reusable tote bag for your next trip to the grocery store!