SNAP Challenge: Day 3 Ruminations, by Jan-Michael

His Perspective

Day 3 and we’re already seeing some changes. Hmm…

Things Heather and I have in common currently:

  1. We’re not starving by any means, but we feel hungrier than normal and think about food a lot!
  2. We are drinking a lot more water.
  3. We feel awkward going out.
Jan-Michael Sacharko

Jan-Michael Sacharko, A-SPAN.org

A few people have asked us online about our rules and the reality of this challenge. In truth, any of these types of challenges (live among the homeless for a week, etc) are not realistic because we KNOW they will end. We also do know that we have the money we would need if an emergency arose. But we do what we can to really think about the “what if?”

One friend asked about specific details such as my allowing myself to enjoy the free coffee at work. Would, she asked, someone on food stamps work at a place with free coffee? Well, honey, it ain’t Starbucks blend. I think free coffee is acceptable because it is available many places.

Communication was brought up by another friend. Are we telling everyone that we are doing this challenge and wouldn’t that affect the outcome? She has a point. It’s out there on Twitter, Facebook, and this website. However, we still know plenty of people that do not use those media much or at all. If this was not a challenge, would I want anyone to know that I suddenly became broke and was on an extraordinarily limited food budget?

This came up already this week. Tuesday night I had plans with a casual friend who does not use social media much. We made plans to meet for coffee and beignets weeks ago because I push Bayou Bakery on everyone (http://www.bayoubakeryva.com/). We keep meaning to hang out and finally had a meet-up planned but I only had $1.50 left from my weekly $30 food budget. Wanting to keep this experiment somewhat realistic, I decided not to tell her about the challenge at all. But what would I say? I could cancel completely. I could lie about why I don’t have any money. I could go but lie about why I am not eating having just gotten over the flu anyway.

I decided to meet her but texted ahead of time to say two truths and a lie: I had had a crazy day and was totally scatter-brained (truth), I could only find $1 in my truck (truth), and I didn’t have my credit cards on me (lie); would she want to postpone or shall I owe her next time? She LOL’ed me and said she could cover it as I had paid last time we hung out. At Bayou, however, I only ate $1 worth of food and gave her that dollar, insisting.

I don’t like being taken care of and I have a very hard time asking for help. If I were suddenly to be in total dire straits, I really would have to change how I live and act everyday. I would not feel right going out without any money or accepting the drinks or food that friends would buy for me. (And I do have great friends who would cover for me for awhile, but I don’t want to strain my friendships.) I am already turning down social events coming up over these two weeks for these reasons. Not trying to get any sympathy for that, just letting you know that I am trying to take this seriously and make it as real as possible.

One thing that has occurred to me – While I feel it is very limiting knowing that I only have $30 to spend on food, those who live on SNAP (food stamps) actually see that $30 as a life line, helping to make them feel slightly more secure – a key component that offers a small relief to help make it through with their lives and all the stuff that is currently being thrown at them.

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