Diary of a Food Stamp Challenge

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(Second in a series. First & Third available.)

On day 2 of this Food Stamp Challenge, it had become apparent to me that when my food choices are limited all you can do is think about food.  There was certainly a time when out of necessity, much of the days energy was centered on where the next meal would come from, but most of us now live outside of scarcity in the luxury of choice.  

My thoughts and energy have been totally consumed by food or lack thereof, despite already having food in my fridge. I’m stressed by trying to constantly balance my food intake for future meals with the strong urge to quell my present hunger. As a result, I’m finding it hard to concentrate and complete other tasks . . . like blogging. If you wonder why kids that don’t eat breakfast or miss meals over the weekend struggle to achieve in school, wonder no more.  

I am a little more than half way through the week of a Food Stamp Challenge. I am settling into the routine and adjusting to the idea that I’m always going to be little hungry.  I have changed from a person who typically viewed meals as a means to an end into a person that avidly watches the clock until my next meal.

As much as I anticipate the next meal, I also loathe it since I know it will leave me underwhelmed and unsatisfied.  I miss the freedom to be able to impulse purchase food when needed throughout my daily routine.  Eating for pleasure may seem like a luxury but when all your meals are purely functional you realize what an important aspect enjoyment is to the way we eat.

My most impactful revelation came when I was eating my only serving of vegetables on day 2. I was raised in a large extended family where food is always the centerpiece of our gatherings. Even among my friends, food is the common medium by which I show love and share my world. On a food budget of $33.98, I could never invite friends or family over and to share a meal without severely limiting my own food intake. On this budget I could never host holidays or special occasions.  On this budget I am isolated from my community.  On this budget there is no room for unexpected surprises. On this budget I couldn’t even be ordinary; I’d have to be perfect.

Cicely Garrett
Food Systems Innovation Manager


Could you feed your family on $1.51 per person per meal? Two Atlanta-based organizations, Community Farmers Markets and Wholesome Wave Georgia, are giving you a week to find out. The Community Farmers Market SNAP Challenge, Nov. 10 to Nov. 16, asks participants to feed themselves on $33.98 for the entire week — that comes out to a generous $1.62 per meal.

Interested in learning more about the GA Food Oasis? Contact Cicely Garrett, Food Systems Innovation Manager at cicely.garrett@acfb.org.