SALT LAKE CITY – For the next week, some Utahns have pledged to spend a week on a food stamp budget. They daily allowance is $4.20.
The idea behind the SNAP Challenge is to highlight the realities low-income people face trying to put food on their table.
Making your way down the grocery aisles knowing you have about $30 to spend on a week's-worth of food is a reality for 211,000 Utahns who rely on SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
Gina Cornia is the executive Director for Utahns Against Hunger. She is trying to raise awareness about the problems SNAP recipients encounter eating on a budget.
“It’s not a perfect experiment; we know that," Cornia said. "But for a lot of people the only money that they have to spend are their SNAP benefits.”
Cornia has called on Utah’s congressional delegation and lawmakers to step up to the challenge. So far, Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox is the only taker.
“It’s been harder than I expected, $4.20 a day isn’t much," he said.
Cox says it’s been difficult planning out meals and stretching them out.
“Don’t get me wrong, two days of doing this is nothing compared to knowing every day is going to be like this," he said.
Alex Cragun is the executive director of Utah’s Democratic Party. He’s doing the SNAP challenge to show just how important the program is, especially for children. More than half of SNAP recipients in Utah are children.
“The fact that we’re talking about cutting these kinds of benefits to me is horrifying," he said. "These are children we’re talking about here. Making sure they are able to go home and not have to worry about what’s the next meal.”
Participants in the challenge can’t accept free food. If you eat out, that money must come out of your SNAP budget.
“It’s takes a lot of time," Cornia said. "It takes a lot of cooking skills, planning that a lot of low-income people working don’t have."
Cornia hopes the experience will encourage lawmakers to keep the program intact.
“I think it helps me understand a little bit better what people are facing and hopefully that will influence the decisions we make,” Cox said.
To sign up for the Snap Challenge, click here.