Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Food Stamp Challenge

This from Middlesex United Way:

Starting on Monday, June 15th United Way employees and volunteers will take part in a week-long, $24.50 food stamp challenge to raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity in our community. As food and energy costs rise, we are very concerned about low-income families' ability to provide enough healthy food for their children. We are taking this challenge with them in mind, and we invite you to join us.

After paying for housing, utilities, health care expenses, child care, and transportation, many low-income households have little or no money remaining to spend on food without the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known at the Food Stamp program). Most households receiving this assistance report that their benefits do not last the entire month and many are forced to turn to food pantries and soup kitchens that are already experiencing an increased demand for their services. Currently, the program provides just $3.50 per person per day for food (or $24.50 for the week).

We do understand that food stamps may not be the only source for food for families. Most families will likely be able to pay for some food out of their pockets and may qualify for other support programs. The SNAP program is just that - a supplemental nutrition program not meant to be the sole source for families. Eligibility for food stamps is based on many criteria and the benefits for this and other programs can vary.

We are using the $3.50 allotment as our guide for this challenge to:

  • Show that the buying power of food stamps is not what it used to be;
  • Open up a discussion about the struggles families are facing to meet the costs of living;
  • Show the difficulty in eating healthy on such a tight budget;
  • Generate understanding and awareness of hunger and food insecurity in our community; and
  • Encourage you to give, advocate, and volunteer in the community to end hunger.

Middlesex United Way challenges you to live on the average food stamp allotment of $3.50 per person per day. United Way staff and volunteers will take the challenge beginning on Monday, June 15th leading up to the national United Way Day of Action on Sunday, June 21st. Be sure to read our blog throughout the week and see how we're doing. Executive Director Kevin Wilhelm is scheduled to appear on The Best of the Valley radio show on WMRD on Wednesday, June 17th at 12:30 p.m. during the challenge week.

Here are the rules and guidelines for the challenge should you choose to participate:

  • No food may be accepted as a gift during this time (that means no cookies from coworkers!);
  • If you need a condiment, you must purchase it with your monetary allotment;
  • If you choose to take the challenge for the 7-day week, all that is eaten must be purchsed with the $24.50. You cannot eat food that was not paid for with the allotment but is already in your refrigerator or pantry;
  • All that is purchased with your allotment must be food; and
  • You may start with provisions of what a typical food pantry would supply to a person who is completely without food and needs emergency stocking. This would not count towards your $3.50 per day allotment. This is a list of typcial: 1 jar red sauce; 1 pound pasta; 1 bottle of juice; 2 cans vegetables; 2 cans soup; 1 can fruit; 1 can tuna; 1 can meals; 1 box cereal; 1 jar peanut butter; 1 starch side; 1 snack; 1 meat for 1 meal; 1 dozen eggs; 1 pound butter.

Please let us know if you would like to join Kevin in his challenge. We are looking for guest bloggers to share their experiences. Contact Kevin at

Kevin appears today (June 17) on WMRD-AM 1150 at 12:30 p.m. to talk with Don DeCesare about the Challenge. Follow his blog at

Recommended reading: Barbara Ehrenreich's article in The New York Times Sunday June 14 titled "Too Poor to Make the News" - read it here.


Anonymous said...

Our organization, the Connecticut Association for Human Services, is holding a webinar on June 30 with discussion about SNAP, how to access the program, and recent changes to the program.

The webinar is free and open to all. Please register here:

Imee said...

Interesting. I'd love if we have a food stamp challenge here at work too. Although I don't think we'd have a problem with it--nearly everyone's been brownbagging their lunches lately!