For this Vegan MoFo 2014 and Hunger Action Month, I am going to take the SNAP challenge and live within the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) budget of about $4.50 per day ($137.05 per month), which is the average benefit here in Colorado where I live. I don’t actually qualify for the SNAP program, but I want to take a month of intentional eating: carefully planning what I’m going to eat each day, making time for meals, cooking from scratch, and planning scrupulously so that I don’t waste food. I am in nursing school and currently taking an OB class, so I would also like to write about how food insecurity impacts families with babies and young children. There’s a WIC clinic at the hospital where I will be working this month, which I plan to investigate, and I’ll also map out the food shopping in my neighborhood, a food desert in Denver. Because this is Vegan MoFo, I’ll add a few low-cost, speedy recipes suitable for a busy nursing student schedule. I’ll also throw in a couple of posts about edible weeds in Denver, and vegan gardening!
Being vegan is often talked about as an upper middle class white lady thing, which needs to change! I want to prove that being vegan and healthy is possible for low-income people, even if it requires a great deal of planning. Food insecurity is a huge issue: over 47 million low-income Americans participate in SNAP to help purchase food, and 76 percent of SNAP households include a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. I hope that a month of the SNAP challenge will help me come to a greater awareness of food justice issues and examine my own class privilege and food security.
My rules for myself:
-Don’t eat/drink out, even for coffee, tea, or drinks! Eating out isn’t covered by SNAP benefits. I want to challenge myself to do other activities to connect with people socially, besides go to a restaurant and eat food.
-Prepare everything with basic kitchen utensils – time to give the VitaMix, dehydrator, other fancy appliances a break! This expensive equipment is not accessible to low-income people.
-Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or while at work. (Exception: I will attend a weekly potluck that some friends and I organize, because I will be bringing something. I’m all for supporting one another and combining resources for greater strength.)
-Keep all grocery receipts to ensure that I’m staying within budget.
-Don’t include food that was purchased prior to the challenge, except for small amounts of oil and spices.