Could I get what I considered to be proper nutrition on the food budget of the average older person on SNAP? That was the challenge that I set for myself.
During the SNAP Challenge, I’m using SparkPeople, an online nutrition diary, to track my intake of calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
When NCOA decided to do the SNAP Challenge, people assumed I would leave the rest of my family out of it. Never! Since we eat dinner together as a family every night, my family was required to come along on this important ride with me.
I am starting day four of the SNAP challenge and was so glad to make it over hump day! My husband opted out of the challenge but has been quite supportive. He helped me shop last Sunday at Aldi’s but said he did not have to participate to know that he couldn’t make it on that little amount of food.
I'm on day three of the SNAP challenge and it's getting a bit easier to get into a routine. I’ve found that my biggest struggle has been in the evenings at dinner time and before bed.
Food already looms large in my life. I have enjoyed cooking and many of my happy childhood memories involve family meals. One special memory is picking the first strawberries in June on the eastern end of Long Island for my father’s favorite birthday cake – Strawberry Shortcake with lots of fresh whipped cream. So taking up the SNAP challenge is something I think I am equipped for.
My husband is joining me for this week of the SNAP Challenge, and we knew we couldn't make it through the week without some serious advance planning.
During the first day of the SNAP Challenge, I thought a lot about my grandmothers, both of whom knew how to stretch a dollar to feed their families.
My maternal grandmother, Thelma, raised five children on my grandfather's railroad salary and the money she brought in by running a daycare in her home. During the Great Depression, her family relied on bruised and damaged vegetables from the local grocery when they couldn't afford produce.
I shared the SNAP challenge with a friend a couple weeks ago and she invited me over on Monday for a potluck. I joined her and her family with my very skimpy salad (lettuce, grated carrots, and tomato) to add to her meal.
Today was the first SNAP lunch, consisting of rice and beans, a sweet potato, and some greens. It was definitely a much smaller portion than what I’m used to eating for a work lunch.
I went to my local supermarket on Saturday to buy my food for the week, and learned several lessons even before starting to live on my tight budget.
As I reflect on how to make this week work on the less-than-$5-a-day budget, I think about my grandmother, Momma Carol. She lived in the same apartment for 40 years and three of her neighbor/friends were there for 30+ years...
I approached my shopping trip to prepare for the SNAP Challenge armed with the 4 Cs: coupons, calculator, club card, and cash. With a budget of only $20, I wanted to make sure I was ready for the bargains.
Could you eat healthy on $3.84 per day? That’s the challenge for the 2.85 million seniors who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food help – on only $119 per month (national average). And now it’s our challenge, too. From March 5-9, 2012, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) will sponsor the first-ever SNAP Challenge by a national organization serving older adults.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is one of many anti-hunger programs facing cuts. This program, which primarily serves seniors 60 years and older, provides a monthly box of food to 604,000 individuals who earn less than $14,300 a year. The House of Representatives has proposed cutting this program by $38 million this coming year. If these cuts are made, approximately 150,000 people, mostly seniors, will lose their monthly boxes of food.
Right now, we have an opportunity to show Mr. Coleman and the other 603,999 individuals who receive CSFP that we haven’t turned our backs. On November 1st, the Senate will vote on the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which includes a provision to protect CSFP from being cut. Please call your Senators and urge them to pass the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. You can find your Senators' names and their phone numbers here or dial the switchboard number: 202-224-3121. Together, we can create a hunger-free America where every senior has access to the nutritious food they need for healthy aging.
A few months ago, I met a delightful couple named Bill and Sonia who recently celebrated more than 50 years of marriage. Sonia at 84 is a beautiful woman with a “dancer’s body” that she honed as a fabled Radio City Music Hall Rockette. 91-year-old Bill still has a robust physique earned from decades as a general contractor. But outward appearances can be deceiving. Bill and Sonia hadn’t had a real meal in two weeks, surviving on crackers and candy bars while sleeping in their car.
The One Away campaign isn’t the only one telling the real story of senior hunger. At a Congressional hearing last month, several witnesses told stories of older adults who are struggling to pay for food—and others who are benefiting from vital nutrition programs in their community. The focus of the hearing was Senior Hunger and the Older Americans Act.
In a June 23 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, James Bovard suggested there is rampant fraud and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). NCOA’s Nora Dowd Eisenhower, Vice President of Benefits Access, responds to Bovard’s accusations by pointing to the real problem: seniors who need the benefit are not getting it.