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SNAP Challenge: Find Out What It’s Like to Live on Food Stamps
The Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement at Clarion University is sponsoring a month-long SNAP Challenge from February 2 to March 2 that helps answer that exact question.
Participants in the SNAP Challenge are asked to spend only the amount allotted to Pennsylvania residents on SNAP benefits when they purchase food.
Christian Schill, a Keystone graduate and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry major at CUP, is one of the members of the Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement.
Schill says the SNAP Challenge – based on the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – is designed to give participants a brief look into the kind of difficulties faced by millions of low-income Americans who are struggling to put food on their tables. Participants are encouraged to keep a journal or record of their experiences and write down their thoughts throughout the experience.
“I worked for AmeriCorps this summer, and this program really started after a summer of research into rural public health issues, specifically revolving around hunger and the ways that certain PA counties are responding to the crisis of food insecurity.”
“This challenge is something other communities have also done to raise awareness,” Schill said, “The purpose of the program is to spark conversations in the community about the reality of life on SNAP benefits, and to encourage discussion about food insecurity in Clarion County and how we as a community should address this issue.”
Schill also brought up Governor Wolf’s food security plan for Pennsylvania, available for viewing here, and specifically, the goal for every county in Pennsylvania to have a local food alliance to combat hunger by 2020.
“I’d like to get people interested, and at least get them thinking and talking about an alliance,” Schill said.
Schill says the initial response to the project has been encouraging.
“The reaction to this project has been really positive so far,” Schill said, “We did a presentation to some of the university administration, and they were really impressed with it.”
After the challenge is finished, on March 5, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., the Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement will be hosting a community potluck at the VFW in Clarion for the participants. Participants are encouraged to bring dishes they made during their time attempting the challenge. Chicken made by the VFW and drinks will be provided.
Tickets will be provided to each participant when they register for the challenge. Each person who registers will be given a salad shaker containing the instructions for the challenge and their ticket to the potluck.
Members of the Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement will be outside of the Clarion Walmart on Saturday, January 27, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to register interested individuals and hand out Grow Clarion salad shakers.
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