Halfway Through the Food Stamp Challenge
I am at the halfway point of the one week Fighting Poverty with Faith Food Stamp Challenge. My personal challenge has been to spend the allotted $1.50/meal but with a twist: to eat organically. There is method to my madness.
My understanding is that 46 million Americans live on Food Stamps to ‘supplement’ their nutritional needs. I imagine that many of these 15% of Americans live food insecure lives. This means that the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways are limited or uncertain.
My goals in taking the challenge were to raise awareness about and advocate for those who must live on Food Stamps. Have I moved towards meeting those goals in a short 4 days? Yes.
Why eat organic? It is much healthier than a typical high carb food stamp diet. Eating organically also supports the sustainability of our earth. Fortunately there are national projects that support this thinking. Will Allen’s Growing Power in Milwaukee promotes food security in the middle of an urban desert. Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks allows Detroit SNAP recipients to double the value of their benefits by simply buying Michigan-grown fruits and veggies at local farmer’s markets. (Visit the USDA Farmers Market Search to find farmer’s markets that accept SNAP benefits!) NYC based Snap Gardens.org helps those on SNAP purchase food-producing plants and seeds so they can grow their own food.
Advocacy? Our national Farm Bill which is put into law every five years affects dairy policy, farm subsidies and nutrition programs like SNAP. According to recent media reports, the next Farm Bill is presently being deliberated by the House and Senate agriculture committees behind closed doors. Why is this the case? Why is it apparently being decided as quickly as possible? Contact your local legislative members to find out more and advocate on behalf of a fair Farm Bill that benefits your region!
“If you offer your compassion to the hungry and satisfy the famished creature, then shall your light shine in darkness.” – Isaiah 58:10
(Pam is Food Justice Coordinator of Tikkun Ha-Ir of Milwaukee. This season we have donated over 5,000 pounds of organic produce to local food banks, meal sites and food pantries.)