Weber State President Charles Wight participated in the SNAP challenge in early September. He fed his family for $4.50 per person a day and learned that it took quite a bit more planning on a budget.
SNAP is a state and federal food assistance program that benefits families who are living on a gross monthly income of $744.
This challenge helps give students and families an idea of what it is like for low-income families living on food stamps. According to Feedingamerica.org, low income households receive 83 percent of SNAP benefits.
“I think it’s worthwhile to do it just for self-education,” Wight said. “It’s not a completely easy thing to do and the second thing that really came to my attention is that the federal safety net for hunger is just not that big.”
During the week-long challenge Wight and his wife ate two servings of meat and consumed quite a few starches and some greens.
Wight said by the end of the week he was grateful that he would soon return to his normal diet.
The staff at Catholic Community Services, who run the Joyce Hampton Hall Food Bank, asked Wight to participate in this event to raise awareness for hunger action month.
“I just wanted to say that the food bank does a tremendous job in acting as a backup to the hunger safety net,” Wight said. “They deserve a lot of credit for keeping our community reasonably well fed.”
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell joined the challenge shortly after Wight. He fed a family of four on the SNAP budget.
“We take a lot of things for granted. Being able to go and pick things up on the fly and not having to pre-plan is a luxury,” Caldwell said. “When you are living on a fixed income like that, everything you have has to be very well planned and thought out.”
Caldwell said that he heard about the program and thought that it was a great learning opportunity not only for the family, but also for someone who helps to administer and talk to people about those programs.
He wants to be the type of leader who jumps in and experiences what people are going through and dealing with.
Often people who are involved in the SNAP challenge are eating rice, pasta and processed foods.
When faced with the challenge, Weber State sophomore Ashley Webb said she could not imagine managing on only $4.50 a day.
“No, I honestly wouldn’t be able to, at least to eat healthy. Nowadays healthy food is pretty expensive,” Webb said. “You can get food off of the dollar menu but if you have seen ‘Super-Size Me,’ you know that is not healthy.”