Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Hungry for a Cause: The Hunger Challenge Gets Under Way for Third Year

For the third year in a row, the San Francisco Food Bank has launched the Hunger Challenge, a week-long opportunity for bloggers and others to walk in the shoes of America’s hungry. The challenge: Eat for $4 per day per person, the current amount of the food stamp benefit provided to recipients.

Participants this year include veterans of the challenge and those brand new to it. In addition, California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma has joined the roster.

Hannah of Project Open Hand admitted that though the Hunger Challenge will provide a solid education in one facet of being poor in America, she’s working from a place of great advantage:

    “As I walk in the shoes of a food stamp recipient, I realize that I will have a hot shower each morning, clean clothes to wear each day, a safe home to return to after a long day work, and a warm bed to sleep in at night. Thus, I will only encounter one of the many hardships endured by the poor every day. However, it is my hope that this experience will help me gain a better understanding of what I call the “food insecurity epidemic” and provide elucidation on ways people like me and you can help to alleviate this societal problem.”

Vinette Gutierrez of Hello Vinette! went slightly over budget during her shopping trip at the beginning of the challenge. “On my list of groceries, I got mostly carbohydrates and starchy items since they were the least expensive,” she said as she embarked on the week.

“I hope I’m not being overly confident and optimistic but I think I can handle this,” said Hello Cupcake. “At the very least, it’s only one week and as it stands now, I am very conscious of my food spending habits.”

Dana of The Food Stamp Diet had already run into a challenge starting on Day 1: she hadn’t gone shopping for her groceries yet, she woke up craving restaurant pancakes that wouldn’t fit in the budget for the week, and her boyfriend gave her a homemade piece of candy that, also, she could not eat while on the challenge.

    “I'm not pleased. So now I guess I'm gonna go to maybe Safeway or maybe some fruterias on mission and see what I can get for cheap. I have $28 for the whole week but I'm not sure I'm going to spend it all today because I'm worried I won't ration properly for the week and then I will run out. I am going to try to have some fruit and veggies this week even though I'm sure that will take all my money.

    It's gonna be a beans and rice kind of week I guess.”

The Day 1 challenge for Kate of Some Dreams Come True and her husband, Mark, was when her in-laws invited them over for dinner.

    “One of the challenge rules is no accepting handouts - after all, you could just set up to be at another friend's house for dinner every night.

    But, it got me thinking about what would happen if we were really living on food stamps. Would that be the end of social eating? I really don't think so. While I really wouldn't think anything less of anyone using food stamps, I don't think I'd be advertising it if I was. So, I did what I'd usually do - asked what I could bring.

    Mark and I ended up bringing dessert. And, in the spirit of the challenge, I wanted to make something that would fit into our $8/day budget. I ended up whipping up another Strawberry Sour Cream Pie. The total cost for the pie was $5.18.”

Learn more about the program, and check out the full list of participating bloggers, at The Hunger Challenge’s site. It’s not too late to sign up and participate!