Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SNAP challenge - living with $4.50 a day

How would you feel if you only had $4.50 a day to feed yourself? Would you be able to make it? And what would you eat? Could you include healthy food in that amount?

Us foodies are used to eating out, we enjoy food. But what if we simply couldn't afford it? Feeding Illinois wants us to find out how it feels. Within the context of Hunger Action Month, they launched an interesting challenge. They invited everyone to try and live on $4.50 a day, for seven days, from September 19 to September 24. Why $4.50? Because that's the amount that people in need receive every day from the government through Food Stamps (now known as SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme - for more info on food stamps, how they work and their history, click here).

The rules of the SNAP hunger challenge are simple: you need to spend $4.50 max a day, drinks included, and you can't accept food from friends, family or colleagues. You should also avoid using food you already have in your house, unless you deduct the value of what you are using from the $4.50 allowance.

The Tuscan Foodie is in. I am going to try and do it, and report back on how it goes.

If you do want to participate in this initiative, there are other ways to do it: you can create and post on Feeding Illinois' website a recipe which doesn't cost more than $1.50, or you can contribute to a Food Bank. Whatever you do, try and put yourself in somebody's else shoes. Just for one week.

9 comments:

orangeek said...

maybe some (cooking) geek powers could be useful for you! :)
http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/09/cooking_for_geeks_diy_book_tour_sta.html

Tuscan foodie in America said...

interesting. I am not sure it could fit in the $4.50 budget, but it sounds very interesting. I may go to the presentation...

Superpiccione said...

Hey foodie!

Looking forward to the post about the tour. Just for curiosity, how much do you think should we count here in Europe?

I have checked the official exchange ratio and 3.5 Euro seems unrealistic for this side of the pond for a whole day. I might go for 5/6 euro, what do you think?

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Hi Superpiccione!

For a "translation" of the project into Euros, I suggest two ways:

1) try and see if there are food stamps given in any of the Eurozone countries, and see how much they are; or
2) take a BigMac as a basis. The bigmac here, taxes included, cost approximately $4-4.50, i.e. a little less than the food stamp. How much does the bigmac cost in Brussels? If it costs, say, 4 Euros, then I would go with 4.5 Euros. If it costs 5 Euros, then go with 5.50. I think this is actually the easiest way to do it

Tuscan foodie in America said...

superpiccione, here you can find the BicMac index, with prices of the Big Mac around the world:
http://www.economist.com/node/16646178?story_id=16646178

In the Euro area, the Big Mac is approximately 20% more expensive than in the US, but the US is withut taxes, which are 10% in Chicago. So the real increase compared to Chicago is only 10%. So your "food stamp" should be 5$ = 3.92 euros. Say 4 Euros.

Fabrizio Cariani said...

that would be fun. my only problem is that I'll have some work-mandated (and paid) meals during that stretch. maybe I'll do a delayed (or anticipated) version of it.

the only things that come to mind so far are:
1) canned beans
2) pasta aglio/olio peperoncino

(the second is if you can spread a purchase over the period: say buy a smallish $5 bottle of olive oil for the 5 days and detract $1 a day.)

Fabrizio Cariani said...

also: if two people do the challenge, can you split purchases? or is that cheating?

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Absolutely, you can split if both of you take the challenge. The site actually advises you to make your grocery purchase in one go, so for two people the max you can spend is $63. Consider that if you use olive oil or other condiments you already have then that's cheating, unless you take the cost of these items out of your $63.

Tuscan foodie in America said...

You can spread the costs. I have a couple of recipe ideas...

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