As part of Hunger Action Month, this week (9/15-9/21) is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan (SNAP) Awareness Week. SNAP is the federal program that provides food purchasing assistance for 46 million Americans each month, mainly through food stamps.
To spread awareness of the increasing amount of Arizonans, and Americans, that rely on the SNAP program, board members and staff of the Arizona Community Action Association and Valley of the Sun United Way have taken a pledge to live on the SNAP program for this week. The daily food budget for a SNAP recipient is $4.16 per day and $97 per week for a family of four. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has also taken this pledge, and has been writing a daily blog about his experience. According to Mayor Stanton’s blog, there are 1.1 million Arizonans on SNAP. This is almost double the amount of recipients in 2007.
Stanton’s blog also pointed out the lack of nutritional options suggested by SNAP for low budget meals. He writes:
“Part of this challenge is to try and eat healthy, not just survive. I looked at the USDA’s recipe book and tips and there are some good shopping hints, but not all the meals look healthy to me, especially for kids. One suggested breakfast was orange juice, hash brown potatoes, and biscuits with margarine. Another day suggests OJ, cooked rice cereal and toast. There’s no protein in that meal and the “fruit” is juice- that’s not going to stick with you. Kids have to be well nourished to pay attention in school- I’m concerned about struggling families being able to send their kids to school well-fed and ‘ready to learn.'”
Phoenix ranked as the 34th most food insecure city out of America’s largest 100 metropolitan areas.
How big of a problem is food insecurity in your city or town? How are its citizens in taking action to spread awareness and solve this problem?