By Samantha Nelson
And so the countdown beings. In less than two days the Open Arms of MN SNAP Challenge will begin. For one week's time, a number of people, including myself, will dedicate their time to living under the constraints felt daily by millions of Americans. However, unlike me, these people do not have the luxury of sitting down to a feast on Thanksgiving morning or sipping their Grande Skinny Latte from Starbucks on Black Friday. For those living on SNAP, their ability to simply survive in this world is dependent on their allotted monthly food allowance. With this realization, my preparation for the upcoming week has been 99% mental. It is still a struggle for my to wrap my brain around the fact that nearly 600,000 Minnesotans live on SNAP. Keeping this in mind, the woes of my daily life seem to pale in comparison. Sure, I might complain of hunger when I eat my lunch at 3 p.m. rather than at noon, but in all actuality my grievance is trivial.
I do not know hunger. I have never known hunger. And unlike those 600,000 Minnesotans, food is at always at my disposal. Entering into this SNAP challenge I have a single goal in mind: It is my hope that this experience (and the hunger pains I am sure to feel) translate into an even deeper realization of the food crisis in America. I hope for this not only for myself, but for those in my community, my friends, my family and maybe even someone with enough power to institute a change in our country. My eyes have been opened and with a heavy heart I now realize the struggle faced by so many of my neighbors.
Let me provide a quick synopsis of my life in hopes that it will provide a personal touch to my blogs as the week progresses. I am 21 years old and in my senior year at the University of Minnesota majoring in Nutrition Science. I am a medical school hopeful, a lover of athletics and a passionate photographer. I was first introduced to Open Arms MN while attending high school about 20 min outside Minneapolis. The organization has a captivating and inspiring mission that caught my attention. I began my work at Open Arms as a volunteer in the kitchen and continued in that position until I left for college in San Diego, CA. Long story short, I transferred back in Minnesota and have returned to volunteering
Between classes, research, and training for a marathon I have worked closely with Gwen Hill, the Registered Dietician at Open Arms, to see the SNAP Challenge develop from ideas on paper to a much-anticipated event. I am excited for the upcoming challenge and encourage all who are participating to truly reflect on their experience. While only seven days in length, I believe this challenge will make a lasting impression.
Good luck to all participating! I look forward to sharing the ups and downs and this experience with you all.