Sara Rothman is a member of NFTY Missouri Valley.
An organization that I’m apart of is NFTY Missouri Valley. The community came together for one week of social action and awareness to test ourselves by going on the SNAP Challenge. 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 the average daily food stamp benefit (about $4 per person per day). Challenge participants find they have to make difficult food shopping choices, and often realize how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy.
When I first accepted the challenge, after lots of convincing from my friends, I thought it was going to be about rationing my food, buying cheap in large amounts, and counting on Roman to be there for me. I assumed I would be reflecting on how hungry I felt and how I was worn down and sick of my repeated peanut butter sandwiches. However, it was so much more than that.
What I took away from the Challenge is realizing how much food is a focus in my life when it is not in easy access. Sitting in school, it was hard to not be thinking about my next meal. But I only dealt with these feelings for a week; for some, this is people’s lives.
Looking at the statistics from our country and food stamps, my knowledge of global importance grew dramatically. I realized that people face hunger every day. 45 million Americans live below the poverty line and hunger affects one in six Americans. 13.6% of Americans receive SNAP benefits and over half of them are senior citizens or families with children.
Eating on $4 a day not only helped me to appreciate the constant struggle of those facing food uncertainty, but also served as a reminder. While I can go back to a normal diet after finishing the week, so many other people do not have that option.