Food Stamp Challenge Complete, But the Battle Continues

(Third post of this series. First & Second also available.)

Seven days, 21 meals, $33.98, 4lbs, and countless hunger headaches later, I have completed the Food Stamp Challenge with the healthy and fresh twist. While mentally and physically draining at times, it was ultimately a rewarding endeavor. After my body adjusted to taking in less food and the social isolation associated with food insecurity, I was able for refocus my mind and walk away from this experiment with fruits for my spirit.

Janice Giddens, ACFB’s Nutrition and Wellness Manager provided me a Nutrition Facts Chart (See Below) of my meals for the week based on FDA recommended guidelines.  I lived on a daily diet that consisted of about 1260 calories, well below the recommended amount for my weight and height (186 lbs, 5’11).  I would not be able to sustain my current weight on this diet, hence the 4 lb weight loss.  According to Janice, my folate intake was also low; which, if it continued over time, could have significant impact on me and any children I might have in the future - just as it impacts food insecure mothers across Georgia on a daily basis. Also notable is the low iron and calcium intake from this diet which, over time could lead to anemia, low bone density and osteoporosis.  Which is, again, the reality that many food insecure Georgians face as a result of their limited food choices.

Nutrition Facts

     

 

Per Day

Recommended

% Recommended

Calories

1260

2000

63%

Saturated Fat

12g

20g

60%

Protein

104g

50g

208%

Carbohydrates

122g

300g

41%

Fiber

31g

25g

124%

Folate

166mcg

400mcg

42%

Sodium

2007mg

2400mg

84%

Iron

9mg

18mg

50%

Vitamin A

7737 IU's

5000 IU's

155%

Vitamin C

63mg

60 mg

105%

Calcium

603mg

1000 mg

60%

 

Gratefully, my experience had a finish line--an end date. However, for the 47 million Americans that regularly rely on SNAP to stave off food insecurity their finish line may not come for months or years and it may not have a positive ending. SNAP provides food to our most vulnerable populations.  Here in Georgia, 87% of those SNAP households include a child, an elderly member or a person with a disability. While I, possibly you, and others participate in the Food Stamp Challenge for a week to raise awareness and experience an issue first-hand, it is imperative that as we return to our normal diets and food budgets we do not forget those still in the race. We need to continue to do our part to promote food access equality. Health and wellness are foundational to strong thriving communities. As long as food insecurity, malnourishment, and obesity exist--inextricably linked as they are--our communities and their future are on shaky ground.

I encourage you - and anyone else who cares - to contact your representatives. We can’t change the November cuts. But we can avert the disaster that would ensue from $40 billion more in SNAP cuts over the next 10 years.

-Cicely Garrett
Food Systems Innovation Manager

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