Try buying food for one meal for $1.28. It’s not easy, but more than 1 million Arizona families undergo that decision-making process every day. That is the average amount of money provided for each person per meal in the household through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
The Arizona Community Action Association (ACAA) is hoping community members, business leaders, elected officials and advocates will spend the week of Oct. 6-13 getting a first-hand understanding of what it means to live on $27 a week during the SNAP Challenge.
More than 1.1 million Arizonans relying on assistance to feed their families have just $27 a week – or $3.85 a day – for food. That’s $15 a day for a family of four.
“In Arizona, 1 in 5 people struggle with hunger and 1 in 4 children live in households considered food insecure,” said ACAA Executive Director Cynthia Zwick. “While this experience cannot give us a true sense of living in deep or prolonged poverty, it can provide insight into some of the challenges families confront. That’s what we’re inviting people to experience.”
Participants will be provided with food-buying guidelines and will be asked to blog about their experiences at www.azcaa.org/blog as well as on through their own social media outlets.
“What many people don’t understand is that SNAP keeps people out of poverty by filling a critical need to be able to provide food for their families,” Zwick said. “It relieves the pressure of deciding whether to buy food or medicine or pay the electric bill.”
SNAP Challenge participants will be asked to use $27 to pay for all food costs for the week.
There’s also a widespread misconception that people on SNAP are bilking the system or committing fraud, “but the facts show otherwise,” Zwick said. “Last year, of the more than 1.1 million who relied on SNAP, only 87 cases of fraud were documented. That’s an incredibly efficient and productive system.”
Established in 1939 as the Food Stamp Program, more than 49 million Americans, or more than 1 in 7, rely on food stamps to purchase needed food each month. Eligibility is based on income and assets depending on household size. SNAP is a critical bridge to help individuals and families establish financial stability so they can move out of or away from poverty.