“SNAP”ing Back: The Food Challenge Reflection

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Stephanie Marelowsky

Completing the SNAP challenge was more difficult than I expected and has me grateful for my own financial securities, however small they are. I seriously missed eating hot breakfasts and adding a copious amount of sugar to my coffee. I have never thought of myself as having a lot of money, but this project opened my eyes considerably to my privilege with food. This became glaringly obvious as I made the mistake of buying multiple products that needed additional condiments to be enjoyable. I never even opened my can of tuna because I didn’t have mayo. It had never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t have it. I realize that if put into a situation where I was hungry enough, I would have eaten it, but I knew I had an end date and simply ignored the problem until it was over. That, in itself, is an abuse of my privilege during the task. 

 Although I found the SNAP Challenge wearing, it also had moments that felt highly rewarding. I was so excited when I hardboiled my eggs for the first time and felt like I appreciated eating more when it was something I had to measure and plan out so thoroughly. I was a bit overwhelmed at times, especially when it felt like I was more concentrated on what I would eat next than to conversations around me. I still can’t imagine what this complication would have on an individual long term, seeing now how hunger can make even holding a conversation with a friend more difficult. Having to manage the stresses of a job and homework on a regular basis with such limited income would absolutely make daily life exponentially more difficult and tiring. I will admit that I feel awful having ultimately failed by eating out on Friday. I did exactly what I said I wouldn’t do and chose the simple choice. 

As a side note, I was disappointed by the amount of people that told me to cheat every single day when I said I was hungry or not looking forward to eating what I had left. The problem with this to me is that people who only have this kind of assistance can’t just cheat and write a happy little summary. This is the struggle they silently live with every day. There is no pulling through a fast-food drive thru or grabbing a snack at the gas station because there are no extra funds.  

I recommend this challenge to anyone that is looking for a different perspective on food and their status. The best chance to create change is in education. There is an obvious problem with all societies in their ability to not only to distribute food, but to provide a nutritious and tasty option to all who need it. I may have had food throughout my journey, yet often I was left unsatisfied and lacking a decent variety of food. There are many so quick to judge those that need to ask for assistance. Maybe the answer doesn’t lie in pointing fingers at those in need, but instead at the constructed industrial food industry that has manipulated us without contest for far too many years.