Recently Newark Mayor Cory Booker made national news by accepting a challenge to live for a week off of “food stamps.” According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC.org) the average food assistance (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP) in this country is $4 per person per day. This led to an interesting discussion with Susanna on our drive home from New York on Saturday.

Could we, as a family, survive off of $4/day per person? It would be a challenge. We have Will and Ben living with us (on average) 3.5 days a week. That would bring our weekly grocery budget to $84. That is significantly less than we spend per week on food, and we don’t often purchase meat.

What good do these SNAP Challenges do? They certainly don’t make it easier for those on food assistance to get by. It does seem that it is easy to forget how well off we are compared to some. I know we have had many discussions around the dinner table about being thankful for what we have. Yet it is easy to only focus on those who have more than us. I often hear the boys talk about how lucky some of their friends are to have more toys or more electronics than they do.

Maybe a week long food challenge like this would help us all appreciate what we have. It won’t change how easy or hard it is to survive when you have to rely on assistance to get your basic needs (food and shelter). Maybe it will give us more empathy for the less fortunate. Maybe if enough of us found more empathy, we would find a way to do more to help the less fortunate.

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