By Jackie Heymann, NFTY-MV Social Action Vice President
Growing up, I became so accustomed to being able to walk into my kitchen, open up any fridge, pantry, or drawer and find them all stocked with food. If I do go into the kitchen and find that we are out of something, I automatically assume that my dad has not had the chance to go to the grocery store in a couple days and I write the item on the list. Within a day, I always find the item in its respective place waiting for me to eat it. Without even realizing it, I have become so dependent on my family always being able to buy as much food as we need and have a surplus of it. When we are out of something, I have not ever had the thought run through my head “maybe we are out of food money for the month.” During the presidential debates, though, I remember Governor Romney bringing up the alarming fact that the number of Americans receiving food assistance has risen to almost 46 million. Now this fact would be alarming to anyone but with my social action and privileged teenager background, this fact was even more shocking. I had no idea that that many Americans we relying on the government for something that they need every single day—food. What is even more shocking is that over half of those 46 million are children. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to grow up in a household where I am not sure how much I will be eating in a day.
Because I was brought up in a privileged household, I decided that I wanted to experience what it would be like had I not been so lucky. This past week in Post Confirmation class, my Rabbi introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan or SNAP challenge (SNAP was formerly known as Food Stamps but it has been renamed due to a change in technology from actual stamps to a swipe card similar to a gift card). This challenge asks its participants to attempt to live on $4.50 per day ($1.50 per meal) in order to somewhat experience the struggle that 45.7 million Americans face. I have decided that I want to accept this challenge so starting today, November 11th, my family and I will be joining some other congregants from Shaare Emeth and our Rabbis in an attempt to experience the limitations that SNAP program recipients have.
Most of the time, unhealthy foods are the ones that are the cheapest. This poses a big problem for those who are on food stamps for a lengthy period of time. However, I am determined to find an alternative to eating cheap, processed food the whole time. To achieve this, my family made a list of the healthy items that we believe we can buy with our budget. My plan is to eat oatmeal for breakfast, yogurt, off-brand wheat thins, and a piece of fruit for lunch, and my family will eat something for dinner together. After going to Aldi, I was shocked to find that my dad somehow spent half of our allotted food amount. We’ll have to see if that food lasts us throughout the week!
If you are interested in participating in this challenge, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Best of luck to anyone else participating in this challenge :]