The SNAP (Food Stamp) Challenge

I’ve said it before, but September is Hunger Action Month.  If you follow the news or spend much time on social media, you’re aware of this, and you’ve no doubt heard about the Food Stamp (SNAP) Challenge.  Everyone, from politicians to CEOs to bloggers, seems to be participating.  I love the idea behind the challenge, but I do think there are a couple of important points to consider before you take this challenge at face value.  Because I’m all about letting someone else do things I could do for myself, I encourage you to read this article from The Washington Post.

Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  Here’s the link once more.

So…I’ve been working hard to come up with a challenge of my own, trying to figure out how I can show what our family lives on and what we eat.  I considered packing up the kitchen contents and trying to live a couple of weeks on the amount of money a family the size of ours could receive in SNAP benefits.  I thought about doing that, except keeping basic staples available.  I thought about just trying the challenge for a few days.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I figured I couldn’t really decide until I knew how much money we were talking about.  So…off I went to do some figuring.  In my digging around I found that my family probably really does qualify for SNAP benefits, although we do not currently receive them.  If my calculations are correct, it appears that we could qualify for about $547 per month.  (This amount is actually for a family of five, which is what the state would qualify us as, but I actually feed seven.  Our family dynamic is…complicated.  I just want to be totally transparent.)  After getting this info, I realized that I couldn’t do a true SNAP challenge, because there are some weeks that I don’t spend the full $126!! ($547/month x 12 months = $6564/52 weeks per year = 126.23 per week) Never mind adding in that 30% of our income we’re expected to spend in addition to the benefits!!

So, I’m going to try to simply show you what I spend on groceries and what we eat.  I have no idea how long I’ll do this, or what we will end up with.  I have no agenda beyond showing a real life example, using our family.  I also have to tell you that we have one paycheck each month that is “bill heavy”, with nearly all the check paying utilities, and another that is more disposable.  Today we received the more disposable check, so we’re starting on payday.

Here is what I purchased at the grocery store:

tater tots x2

laundry soap x2*

spaghetti x 2*

scalloped potatoes

taco seasoning*

gravy mix

applesauce

canned pumpkin x4^

sugar

paper towels*

Salmon fillets x3^

hot dogs x2

crescent rolls x2

cinnamon rolls x2

margarine

swiss cheese

potato salad x2 

pepperoni x4*

lunch meat x2*

tomatoes x2

mushrooms

bread x2^

italian bread^

half gallon milk x14  (Yes, 14.  They were marked down to 75¢ each.)^

My total was $81.42.  

* = coupon used for this item

^ = store markdowns

Check back to see what we end up doing with all this food!

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