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.

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.

  • The Impacts of Proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Cuts on the Latino Community

    To end hunger and poverty in the United States by 2030, our country needs to support a budget that improves the lives of men, women, and children. Unfortunately, the Trump administration and Congress are proposing dramatic cuts to programs that promote economic opportunity or provide food...

  • The Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615 & H.R. 3440)


    The United States is a nation of immigrants. Throughout its history, people have moved here from all over the world and have contributed to their communities and our national life. Today, as in the past, immigrants are also creating prosperity for this nation. 


For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.

    Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

    In this issue: Another Great Year for Bread; Catholics Begin Observance of Holy Year of Mercy; Serving on ‘God’s Wave Length’ for 39 Years; and more.

  • Interfaith Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger

    A wide array of the nation’s faith leaders have come together on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States to commit ourselves to encourage our communities to work for the end of hunger by 2030 and, toward that end, for a shift in U.S. national priorities.

    We are deeply pleased...

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.


  • The State of Black Poverty: A Pan-African Millennial Perspective on Ending Hunger by 2030

    Over the past year and a half, about two-dozen young adults from the United States and countries in Africa and the Caribbean, have gathered virtually and in person to reflect on the effects of hunger and poverty in black communities. The working group has been considering socio-political and...

  • Fact Sheet: The Hunger-Medicaid Connection

    Congress is considering proposals that would jeopardize healthcare coverage for millions of poor and near-poor adults and children. 

    Legislation under consideration in the House and Senate would gut...