[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
How would you make out if you had just $31.50 to spend on food for an entire week?
For most of us, $31.50 doesn’t come close to covering the actual cost of food we consume each week, but for the one in seven Americans who depend on food stamps, $31.50 – just $1.50 per meal – is their total per-person budget for food. With the balance of their average monthly household income of $693, they must pay rent, utilities, transportation, medical expenses, clothing, child care and all other expenses of daily living.
It is so difficult to fully appreciate the strain of surviving on food stamps that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) has issued a Food Stamp Challenge: Set aside one week and eat only what you can purchase for $31.50.
Here in Louisville, the Jewish Community Relations Council is working to set up a Louisville Food Stamp Challenge, and several community leaders have already agreed to participate, although a date for the challenge has not yet been determined.
Here are the JCPA’s guidelines for participants:
1. Each person can only spend a total of $31.50 on food and beverages during the Challenge week – this translates to $4.50 per day, or $1.50 per meal.
2. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
3. During the Challenge, eat only food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).
4. Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including food at receptions or coffee in the office.
5. Please keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.
6. Share your Food Stamp Challenge by writing an op-ed for your local newspaper, blogging, advocating for feeding programs, and more.
7. Donate the additional money you would have spent on food during this week to a local food bank or anti-hunger advocacy organization (optional).
JCPA’s note: You may find it difficult to complete the Challenge due to schedule or the limited budget. It will still be important and worthwhile to track your experiences.
In Louisville, Jewish Family & Career Services operates the JFCS Food Pantry that provides food to 100-130 clients a month, and they would welcome contributions of the balance of your food budget for the week to the Janet & Sonny Meyer Food Pantry Fund.
Are you interested in learning more about the Food Stamp Challenge? Visit engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org for recipes you might be able to use during the week and other information about the Challenge.
To participate in Louisville’s Food Stamp Challenge, contact JCRC Director Matt Goldberg, 238-2707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ayala Golding is chair of the JCRC. The JCRC is a committee of the Jewish Community of Louisville.
Watch Community for more information about the Food Stamp Challenge.