The SNAP Hunger Challenge coordinators have been sending particpating bloggers prompts, and yesterday's asked how much money we're saving by participating in the challenge.
I had many worries about participating in the challenge , but the amount of money I'd spend on food was never one of them. It's nice, actually, knowing that spending a lot of money on eating out just isn't an option this week. Honestly, I wish I had this kind of determination and commitment to food planning every week. This experience has been a real eye-opener, in that regard.
However, I got to thinking this morning that even though I' m spending about $30 on food this week, I have a lot of resources someone on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program might not. I was thinking this while toasting wheatberries  on my gas range.
Resources that allow me to succeed are:
being able to pay my utility bills so I have gas and electricity for cooking.
owning kitchen tools like a range, a microwave, slow cooker and rice cooker, not to mention pots, pans and other utensils. These things can be expensive.
owning a car so I can drive around in search of the best bargains on food. Many items I've used this week came from Beachy's Bulk Foods in Arthur, which may not be feasible for those in the program.
having the resources to stock up. Instead of shopping just for food this week, my approach has been to use different inexpensive items already in my pantry. Some participants chose to shop for this week only, so you might say I'm cheating on this one. However, using items from my pantry has given me variety others might not be able to afford.
Having stability in my job and personal life. I remember when I participated in the United Way's poverty simulation a few months ago , my “family's” life was chaotic. The mother was off filling out forms, my siblings and I were trying to get to school and no one had time to get to the store before it closed. My real life, however, allows for cooking time before and after work and a refrigerator in the break room where I keep my lunch. Also, I firmly believe having a full-time job prevents me from thinking about food as much as I might otherwise. I know from experience that if I sit around my house all day, I check the refrigerator out of boredom. That could kill a SNAP budget pretty quickly.
I'm not saying all families on SNAP face the obstacles I'm mentioning – I know they don't. But without the resources I listed above, I know I'd never have a chance at succeeding in the challenge.
Photo is from this website .