Betsy: Getting Creative

This is my third year participating in the SNAP challenge. The rules are simple – spend no more than $4.46 on food per day. It was not surprising to find that $4.46 is as inadequate in 2019 as it was in 2017.

Coffee is my fuel. I take for granted that I can have 2-3 cups of coffee during the course of the morning to get me going. By the time I had done a 3-way split of the cheapest coffee we could find with 2 other SNAP challenge participants, I had already committed $2.50 of my daily budget to coffee. I needed to find extremely creative ways to feed myself with my remaining $1.94 per day.

I opted to buy inexpensive white rice and potatoes with my remaining budget and serve them up for several meals flavored with different condiments. I am fortunate to have a stockpile of condiments and I know that not everyone has those on hand. I was able to get through a few days this way, but it was clearly not sustainable as my mood worsened and my energy level dropped, especially in the afternoons and evenings. I found it hard to focus at work during the day and at meetings in the evenings.

SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I found myself focusing on the supplemental element. I thought about individuals and families doing their best to get by on SNAP benefits as costs for their most basic needs – food and housing – continue to rise. I am so grateful to be associated with Beyond Hunger and their mission to provide hunger relief programming and services to our friends and neighbors in 13 zip codes across Cook County.

I thought about the food distributed at our twice weekly distributions which, in some cases, is able to bridge the gap between SNAP benefits and the actual amount of food needed to get through a week. I look forward to a day when SNAP benefits are not needed because we have collectively been able to help everyone find their next meal. Until then, I am going to make a donation to because everyone has the right to food security. I hope that you will join me in a donation today.

Betsy Backes, Board President