The story of my little SNAP challenge has hit the west coast! The Stanford Food Systems requested a re-post of my summary story of the challenge, and of course I said yes. Aside from the flattery of being asked to share my post, I also like the the Stanford’s blog because it shares lots of interesting commentary from a variety of bloggers about food issues in general. Of course they covered the debate over the research study on organic vs. conventional foods in three different segments.
I am glad that my story has been picked up by a couple of other blogs so that the issue of SNAP benefits is getting talked about even more. Nutrition benefits are seen as political for some, as handouts to others, and as absolutely necessary to many. The number of Americans receiving support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program hit an all-time high this year at over 46 million, thanks in large part to the recession and an administration that sees a need to support these newly poor. Some see SNAP as an opportunity to promote health guidelines to help stem the obesity epidemic and prevent diabetes. New York’s mayor has championed reducing the size of sugar sweetened beverages, and is now looking at who should be allowed to purchase sugar sweetened beverages. Some see this program as a place to trim the nation’s budget and reduce our national debt, particularly in a presidential election year.
I can find thousands of recent hits when I search for “number of Americans on food stamps,” but if I was a betting woman, I’d put money on none of those hits talking about what it’s really like to rely on food stamps. The link above describing efforts to promote health guidelines was the only one that interviewed someone receiving SNAP benefits, but it wasn’t in a positive light. Considering that 1 in 8 Americans is receiving benefits right now, odds are pretty good that someone you interact with regularly is on SNAP (or has been), but you don’t know their story.
To be clear, I don’t imagine myself as able to speak for the over 46 million Americans who actually know what it is like to rely on food stamps for daily sustenance. I merely did a 7 day experiment and chose to write about it. And I don’t have the answers for what the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program should look like. That’s not a job I am qualified for or ready to do.
Right now my part can be in bringing up the conversation. And so can you.
If you find this conversation interesting, stay tuned, because there are more pieces of the conversation in the works.