In Your Words: Sensing SNAP Guilt

Sensing SNAP Guilt

Yesterday, I had a fashion show at the Venue Scottsdale, which included a nice dinner.  After the fashion show was over I decided to leave and not stay for the nice catered meal because I was doing the SNAP Experience.  As much as I wanted to stay and talk to people who saw the show, I just couldn’t be tempted to eat of the food.  It would have also been difficult to watch as everyone bit into the most delicious catered meal I’ve seen this year.  It was an interesting feeling to have to be pulled away from something I am good at, which is talking to strangers and eating.

People had asked why I wasn’t staying for the dinner and rather than explain that I was on the SNAP Experience, I made the excuse that I was waking up early for my fitness workout.  This kind of made me think, if I wasn’t able to afford the $65.00 dinner at the event what would have I told people.  Or would have I missed the opportunity of showcasing in fear of the cost of the meal.

Doing the challenge last year and again this year, I thought I would have already learned what I needed to about “living on food stamps.”  I say “living on food stamps,” like I actually know how it is to live on food stamps, but I know that a whole week doesn’t amount to the hardship people face when dealing with a severely low budget to live on a day to day basis.  What do you tell people when you get invited to events that is outside your budget?  Why is there a sense of shame when you know you’re on food stamps or on a low budget for food?

Why didn’t I just tell people about the SNAP Experience challenge?  I guess last night it was easier just to tell people I had to wake up early rather than have people look at me oddly for taking on a challenge that is out of the ordinary for fashion designers and event coordinators to even consider.  Food is such a big part of many social settings and many of the events I attend.  I guess a part of me feels like I didn’t want to be judged amongst my peers and I would rather have given a “good excuse” for skipping out on the meal.

And why did I feel the need to even make an excuse for leaving early in the first place?  I suppose when you turn down a meal that was ready for the taking, you feel guilty for leaving it behind. And to feel right with yourself, you make excuses of why you didn’t want it in the first place.  I think given what I learned, I will also tell people that I was on the SNAP Experience even if it may take longer to explain.

-Jennyvi
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In Your Words: More for Sustenance Than Enjoyment

September 19, 2012

Weighed 169 this morning.

Eating OK today but dinner tonight was extremely dry for me.  I don’t know if it is the change in diet or just some dryness in the food.  Also, I crave sweets; I don’t normally eat sweets but I have wanted some good pastries and/or candies.  Can’t get either with the money I have left and am not going to bake anything when I get home from work.

Had coffee for breakfast; chicken salad (with the roasted chicken I did on Saturday), veggies sticks, crackers, an apple and a banana for lunch.

Had some peanut butter and crackers (5) about 10 AM and that helped me get through the morning.  Peanut butter is my “go to” snack and it tastes pretty good right now.

Dinner was a chicken leg and a nice salad with lettuce, carrots, Mexican squash, yellow squash, onions, about ¼ of a roasted beet, and hard-boiled eggs.  I also had two of the home-made tortillas, which are still good.  An orange rounded out the meal.  I heated some of the left-over pan fried potatoes but they were not to my liking and I only ate about 2 bites.

I have four eggs left which may be my dinner tomorrow night – scrambled with the potatoes and onions.  Maybe the last tomato tossed in for some moisture.

So, doing OK.  Finding that food is more for sustenance than for enjoyment now.  I know I need to eat but little I have appeals to me.  Two more days to go.  I would be in trouble if I did this every week.

I went to the blog today to see what others were saying.  Nice work, everyone!  It’s great to see people taking this to heart and getting a taste of what living on a tight food budget really means.  Thanks.

– Chef Ed

In Your Words: Mayor Stanton

I have to admit that not ever being able to eat out is driving me crazy.  I don’t mean steak and lobster! Some days you want or even need to eat out with a workmate, or some nights a Pizza or Boston Market looks like a great idea to bring home dinner and just be done with it.  But that’s not allowed, no matter how inexpensive the restaurant or takeout meal is.  It strikes me that this program was designed in an era of stay-at-home moms in two parent families.  With both parents working, or only one parent around, it seems a little unfair to me not to have the flexibility of getting prepared food sometimes.  Modern families, even those who watch their money, sometimes need that grab-and-go convenience.

– Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

In Photos: Mayor Stanton

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton joined ACAA staff as well as guests from St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and UCFW (United Food and Commercial Workers) at his local Safeway store in Phoenix on September 18th for a shopping trip on a SNAP budget. Armed with a detailed shopping list and a calculator, the Mayor made his way through the store, choosing his items with care and avoiding the aisles that held food not included on his shopping list.

As the Mayor loaded up his groceries at the register, he questioned whether his total would be under $29, the total allowed for the week under the SNAP Experience. Even with the calculator at hand, he was relying on the store’s savings card to bring his total under $29.

When all was said and done, the total for the Mayor’s groceries came to $28.30. The City of Phoenix charges a tax on food products, which was included in his total, though shoppers using SNAP benefits to purchase food are exempt from this tax.

If you’re wondering what the Mayor of Phoenix purchases when he has to limit his food intake for the week, his cart included: 3 apples, 3 bananas, 1 head of iceberg lettuce, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 package of spaghetti, 1 gallon of fat-free milk, 1 box of store-brand cornflakes, a small jar of peanut butter, a loaf of wheat bread, a cup of noodles, 1 can of beans, ground beef, chicken, cheese, and eggs.

Asked by St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s Jerry Brown to talk some about his Experience so far, the Mayor responded, “I’m already to the point where I’ve had to skip meals, and I know that’s not a healthy thing to do. I’m blessed to be in a position to do it by choice. So many people have no other option. Healthy living means three healthy meals and even under the best of conditions, you can see it’s a very difficult on this budget…SNAP is an important program for the livelihoods of people, those who are going through difficult periods in their lives and hopefully a transition period as they are able to pull out of it. These are real human beings, they are the real base of our community and they need support. We have to be mindful of that.”

If you would like to read more about the Mayor’s shopping trip, check out the blog by St. Mary’s Food Bank.