Raising awareness about SNAP and hunger, part 2

April 28, 2017

By Jordan Kreikemeier

In my last blog post, I talked about my plan to do the SNAP challenge, while at the same time using the USDA’s MyPlate tool to evaluate whether the food I purchased could meet the USDA’s own nutrition guidelines.

I didn’t expect to fill up MyPlate with my week-long $35 SNAP stipend, and I didn’t. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, serves the most vulnerable populations including children and older Americans, and lifted 4.6 million people out of poverty in 2015.

The USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, modest guidelines determining the minimum benefit to reach basic nutrition requirements, does not address factors like health, age, or illness. Therefore, the food seniors can access under SNAP benefits are not able to provide them with nutritious food.

In 2015, for example, 2.9 million households with seniors age 65 and older experienced food insecurity. This number is expected to grow, in part, due to SNAP not acknowledging age and health needs. By 2025, food insecurity among older Americans is projected to reach 50 percent.

I did this challenge to gain more knowledge around food insecurity, since my initial definition of hunger was missing an occasional meal. During the challenge, I found myself distracted by my growling stomach and drained by a lack of energy. My meals were uniformed and I alternated between bread, eggs, tuna, popcorn, bananas, applesauce, and carrots in different combinations.

The lack of color on my plate was evident. You can find pictures of some of my meals here. I would have had to skimp in other areas, like grains or protein to purchase more fruits and vegetables. Unsurprisingly, I did not fill up the entire plate in any meal and ended up running out of food by the last day.

Fortunately for me, this only lasted for one week. But for millions of Americans, this is their daily reality. After seeing the effects of the SNAP challenge on my diet, my new stance is to advocate for nutrition over calories. SNAP funding should be increased to allow recipients to purchase nutritious food to meet the USDA’s own nutritional guidelines.

Increasing SNAP benefits will allow older Americans to purchase more variety and healthy foods to alleviate illness and medical needs. Current SNAP funding levels have been successful in lifting millions of people out of poverty, and an increased stipend could help even more people. In addition, recipients would be able to eat healthier food and for a longer period of time, such as throughout the month, instead of running out of food.

It is not enough to feel bad or guilty about food insecurity. It is urgent that privileged individuals take responsibility to advocate for and promote increased government funding for programs that will benefit vulnerable populations, such as children and senior citizens. More than 75 percent of Americans agree that SNAP benefits should be increased.

I encourage you to take part in the SNAP challenge to raise awareness of the importance of SNAP and nutrition. We all might disagree on how the amount of SNAP benefits should be calculated, but an increase that is in line with the USDA’s own nutritional guidelines should be a starting point.

Jordan Kreikemeier is a government relations intern at Bread for the World.

During the challenge, I found myself distracted by my growling stomach and drained by a lack of energy.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.

    ...

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.

Field

Changing Climate, Changing Farmers

February 7, 2017

Insight

From the Blog