In an effort to show how weak our food-stamp programs are, 26 members of Congress have decided to reduce their grocery budgets to $4.50 per day, the going rate for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Accordingly, the feat has been named the “SNAP Challenge,” and is essentially a way for these 26 Democratic representatives to publicize how poor the availability of high-quality food is at lower incomes.
The participation of these congressmen and congresswomen is in response to a recent farm bill which would cut off 2 million Americans from the valuable nutrition assistance program, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The changes in the farm bill are set to reduce spending, cutting SNAP by more than $20 billion over the next decade. Those hit hardest by the change are “low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens.”
The SNAP challenge hasn’t stopped with the representatives. In a show of solidarity, many Americans have reduced their food budgets to only $31.50/week to get a taste of how bad the lowest income bracket has it. Many failed the challenge after only the first week, as it is very difficult to manage a healthy meal, or sometimes any meal at all, on only $4.50 per day. Most cite poor food choices or fast food being the only things available at this low of a budget. And while cheeseburgers may be filling and satisfying, the effects of consistently bad food choices take a toll.
The challenge seems like a legitimate way of bringing attention to a growing problem. The effects of hunger and food insecurity aren’t as visible in America as they are in other countries. The reason is because the food options for low-income families have long-lasting health effects like diabetes and heart problems. Diabetes and heart problems aren’t things you can see from looking into a child’s eyes. Solving this problem would be a step towards fighting obesity and poor health management in America. If children were given healthy food options instead of perpetual fast food, their future health outlook would be much greater.
The most frustrating part of this arrangement is that America has waged wars on terror, drugs, and poverty, but somehow turns a blind eye to the degrading state of nutrition in America, especially for children. These 26 representatives have introduced this challenge to show Americans just how bad it can get if your luck runs out. All it takes is a lost job, injuries, or misfortune to reduce anyone’s situation to that of those living on $4.50 per day. So perhaps this could be the wake-up call America needs.