Delegate Donna Christensen has taken up the National Food Stamp Challenge – from June 13 through 19 she will attempt to dine on a $31.50 budget that food stamp recipients get weekly, as a show of support and solidarity with those who depend on the program, according to her office.
To meet the challenge, participants can only eat what they buy – no outside food or drinks. That means no soft drinks or appetizers at receptions and no coffee from the office machine. They can use any spices or condiments they already own, however.
Christensen said those taking the challenge are also allowed to eat food available for public consumption that they did not pay for, for example, finger food at a reception or the meal served at “Bull and Bread.”
Christensen and two members of her staff completed the challenge in 2011.
“For one week, we experienced their struggle and hopefully brought attention to how difficult it is to survive on such limited resources,” Christensen said. “The last challenge certainly gave me a better sense of what more than 23,000 of my constituents in the Virgin Islands and nearly 48 million Americans go through and to have that understanding was worth it.”
The Food Stamp Challenge is a nationwide event intended to preserve funding for nutrition benefits during a time of record poverty and high unemployment, Christensen’s news release said. It challenges everyone to live for one week on the food budget of someone surviving on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or what is commonly called food stamps.
With the potential for cuts to SNAP funding, Christensen said it is important for the country to experience what people who participate in this program experience every day.
The even is sponsiored by the Food Research and Action Center, a national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and under-nutrition in the United States.