Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you’ve heard about the SNAP Challenge. The idea of the challenge is that a middle-class or well-to-do family tries to live off the food budget of a family on food stamps.
This month the SNAP Challenge became the charitable act du jour for the rich set and ever since then it has been all over the media and clogging up my Facebook feed. I can’t see how it has made a damn bit of difference and here is why:
- It’s insulting to anyone who does depend on foodstamps. It’s like we’re saying that the challenge of feeding a family on $29 isn’t real until a celebrity fails her cleanse and a bunch of middle class people make their kids live off Kraft Mac & Cheese for a week. Any moron who can do basic math, comparing their average weekly grocery bill with the $29 budget, should be able to figure out that SNAP living is hard. We shouldn’t have to walk a mile in their shoes to get it.
- There’s no step 2. What happens once the SNAP challenge week is over? As far as I can tell, everyone goes and binge-eats quinoa and organic lamb cutlets until they start to feel privileged again. How does this help a real life SNAP family?
- It’s more interesting to poke fun at the people who fail than it is to get up and do something to address the actual problem. When I stop and think about how much time, breath and headspace has been lost talking about that perfectly lit photo of limes and kale, it makes my head explode. I think we should institute a $0.50 per mention fine for anyone who has made or does make fun of Gwennie, and put that money towards stocking up the various food banks around the country.
Can’t we all just stop already with the SNAP challenge? Can we agree that SNAP living really, really sucks and move on to doing something about it? Why don’t we all dig deep into our Michael Kors pocketbooks and give just a little tiny bit of our upper middle class savings to someone who desperately needs it? Instead of living off rice and beans for a week, why don’t we decide to pay just a little bit more for our household items so that everyone can earn a living wage?
Let’s stop writing posts about #celebrityfails and write some letters to our Congressmen and Senators instead. Go and volunteer at your food bank or hold a canned food drive or do something, anything to help make that $29 stretch further.
Food poverty is real and terrible. It is appalling that it exists in a country as entitled as the US. The only way it is going to change is if we stop waiting for legislation and laws to make us do something about it.
If you’d like to make a tangible difference in the lives of those struggling to feed their families using food stamps, don’t do the SNAP challenge. Go make a donation to Feeding America. Write a letter to your government representatives to let them know you (and your votes) care about this matter. Most importantly, don’t starve yourself for a week and think that makes any real difference. It isn’t our lives we need to change, it is theirs.