When I picture hunger, real hunger, I imagine those commercials about helping the kids in Africa. It’s heart-wrenching how much people have to endure in other parts of the world. I feel so lucky to live in a country where we are above such turmoil and suffering. Except, I don’t. In most of the places I’ve been to in America, hunger is not as obvious as it appears in those commercials and, for that reason, it can be easily overlooked. According to the Food Research and Action Center, one in seven Americans struggled with hunger in 2013; more than 49 million Americans with 15.7 of those being children. Hunger is far too common and far too overlooked—even in our country.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP, is the modern day food stamp program that offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. Tyson Foods, Inc. challenged our College Aggies Online (CAO) Scholarship participants to live off the average value of a SNAP recipient’s benefit which came out to $4.50 per day with hopes that the students would gain a better understanding and empathy for hunger in America.
After reading the blogs the CAO students wrote about their experience, it is obvious the challenge was a success. Our students had a hard time eating as they normally do on such a small budget. With the quantity and quality of food available required our CAO participants to get creative. One student, Lauren Schlothauer, even found a way to make a market side sandwich from Wal-Mart last for several meals. The lessons learned were fairly consistent among all the students: $4.50 per day is not enough to fill your stomach and it is definitely not enough to provide you with healthy food choices. How we solve the problem of hunger is not clear, but it is crucial that we do our best to confront this problem head on, with empathy, compassion and understanding.
To learn more about the SNAP benefits challenge tackled by our CAO students, check out these blogs:
Living My Dream
Show Steers and City Life
Agriculture: Past, Present, and Future
Confessions of a Suburbanite Agvocate
Down on the County Line
The Athens Dairy Dawg