Monday, November 21, 2011

SNAP Challenge: I'm SNAPing.

By Gwenda Hill

I’m SNAPing. And I’m only four days late. To be fair, I adjusted my allowance to $12.96 for 3 days ($30.25/7= $4.32 per day * 3 days= $12.96). My grocery list from CUB is below- just four cents short of the max.

2 bananas $0.44
2 bags ramen noodles $0.50
1 orange $0.71
2-15 oz can black beans $1.94
1 lb carrots $0.99
Dollar Aisle peanut butter $1.00
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables $1.69
24 oz bread $1.69
14 oz instant rice $1.77
½ gallon skim milk $2.19
Total $12.92

Shopping wasn’t too difficult for me, as I’ve been preparing for this challenge for the past few weeks and have put together and reviewed multiple different meal plans. The difficult part is why I didn’t participate the first four days.

On 11/11/11, my grandpa passed away. He was ill and passing was expected, but it was still emotional and difficult to accept. In the days leading up to the funeral, all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers from all over the country came to our hometown. The last time we were all together was in 2007 at grandpa’s home for our then annual Christmas Eve celebration. It was heartwarming to see everyone again.

There are two things that happen when the Gazdiks get together. 1) We eat. We make lots of yummy food and we eat. 2) We celebrate almost every occasion with a drink (or two...). That’s how my grandparents did it, and we continue to uphold the tradition. When I found out the funeral was on the Friday of the SNAP challenge, I thought I would still participate. However, as soon as I got to my mom’s home, she offered to take me and my brother out for pizza (which, by the way, is NOT a vegetable). At that moment, I knew there was no way I would be able to keep true to the SNAP challenge and refuse all the yummy food I knew was coming over the course of the weekend. I decided to forget about participating until Monday, but still thought about food insecurity over the weekend.

I am fortunate- I come from a family with aunts and uncles who spoil all of the nieces and nephews with food and drink. Even though I’m just shy of 30 and have a great job, my relatives insist on paying for everything when we’re out together. I only spent about $10.00 on food in the past five days (for 1 burger), and I still ate like a queen the entire time. I know they would treat me the same regardless of my financial situation and it’s comforting to know that if I am ever in a pinch, I have a family who finds joy in supporting its relatives.

Though I had an abundance of food at my fingertips, I know there are families who either can’t or don’t want to support their relatives. I wondered how my weekend would be different in that case. Would we have hosted an open luncheon for ~200 people in the community after the service? Would mom have had all of the ingredients for the baked goods we prepared for the luncheon? Would we have gone out to eat multiple times over the weekend? Would mom have been willing to buy all of the ingredients to prepare breakfasts and dinners each day? Would my cousins and I have congregated at the local taverns every night? I’m guessing not. I’ve become accustomed to having food and drink at the heart of most of my social activities. The thought of not being able to have the experiences I did this weekend due to financial constraints saddens me. What I did, how I ate, and what I drank would have been vastly different if I were a SNAP recipient. The analysis of the past weekend opened my eyes and reminded me not to take the experiences I had, and will have, for granted.

With a shot of Brandy, we send grandpa on his way. And we are all reminded of how lucky we are to belong to such a loving and fortunate family.

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