Very eye opening.

Posted by Natalie

The SNAP Challenge was very eye opening. It is easy to realize how fortunate you are after completing this. I have to say I did go over a little bit at times, but it really got me thinking about how it is difficult to maintain a balanced diet with limited means. I did the challenge as an individual, but I found that it would have been easier to do it per person in a family since a lot of foods are cheaper in bulk. For instance, a loaf of bread would be economical for a family but I did not need the whole loaf for myself.

I also found it interesting to see which of my staple foods I had to forgo or buy simple versions of some items. For example, I normally drink almond milk, however, I got regular milk for the challenge since it is cheaper. I found bananas to be an economical option and I often ate one for breakfast, which is similar to what I would normally eat.

Even though the challenge was difficult, I did not think it was too hard to find foods. However, they were mostly packaged or carbohydrates. For lunch one day I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and had a packaged pasta and carrots for dinner. I don’t normally eat a lot of packaged meals because of the excess sodium and preservatives, so the SNAP Challenge was difficult to me in that aspect.

Overall, the SNAP Challenge forced me to think about my normal diet and how thousands of people do not share the same luxuries of lean meat, fresh fruits and vegetables. Even though I do not eat the best while living at school, I still eat better than many people in my community. It was also really hard to give up sweets and excess foods!

It really got me thinking about how it is difficult to maintain a balanced diet with limited means


Cereal cup

Posted by J

On Tuesday,

September 3rd, I didn’t have too much to eat because I wasn’t sure how far my $4 would take me. Due to that I did not eat anything for breakfast, I just had a glass of water. For lunch, I had a cup of noodles from a market on-campus which cost $1.79
For dinner I had one chicken strip and 1 package of fruit snacks, which came from the same deli I purchased lunch. The cost per chicken strip was $1.50 and the cost of the fruit snacks

On Wednesday,


September 4th I decided to plan my meal a little bit better than before. For breakfast I purchased a to-go cereal cup for $1.69, I then had a banana which was $0.59 and with my remaining money, I purchased one more cereal cup for $1.69. Each time I had cereal I had to ask my roommate to use her milk in order to cut costs. All together, I purchased food for $3.97.

The to-go cereal cups were extremely small and not a serving size that many people would be used to eating. An example of the exact type of cereal bowl that I had is attached.

Biggest disconnect, America wastes almost half the food it produces

Posted by Keely

Last night before dinner I had a splitting headache. I will say a few things about this food (or lack thereof) challenge.

1) You learn to appreciate food. When I eat, I enjoy it more because I know I only have so much food rationed to eat.
2) We take food for granted.
3) Biggest disconnect, America wastes almost half the food it produces, while children go to bed hungry. No, I’m not referring to starving children in Africa; I’m talking about starving children right here in America.
5) I don’t think 4 days is long enough is experience the full effect. However, there might be health issues involved since there is a drastic reduction in caloric intake for those who subsist on a 2,000 + diet, and don’t know which food choices to make. Which means those living on SNAP are most likely not getting all their caloric needs met as well.
6) Those of us who are “foodies” are whining because we can’t afford the foods that have us spoiled, like organic food, or all beef hot dogs in my case. Which brings me to no. 7..
7) If you have food allergies or special dietary needs, you’re in trouble. I can’t eat peanut butter (allergic) and couldn’t afford almond butter, so I reached for the cheapest thing I could for protein. A package of .99 OM hot dogs made of who knows what.
8) I already knew this, but junk food is cheaper than healthier food due to subsidies. It is cheaper for the average family to buy what’s on sale, which is usually the bad stuff, then to spring for foods that are better for them health wise.
9) I didn’t get enough calories, nor did I eat the allotted daily requirements for nutrition according to the food pyramid, which means there are so many more who are not only, not eating well, they are not having their nutritional needs met. And we wonder why we have a diet related health crisis on our hands.
10) This made me much more conscious of how much I spend on food. Even though I am frugal, I still buy organic and have special dietary needs. We pay a premium for organic and specialty foods are very expensive. You can’t afford these items on a very fixed income. This made me think about what I want to eat, versus what I really need, and what I can get by on.

I think the dividing force is between those of us who live to eat because we have that luxury, and those who eat to live, because they have no choice. It really puts things into perspective.

Throughout the four days, I felt hungry, fatigued, and unsatisfied.

Posted by Murphy

Loved this challenge– it truly gave a different perspective on how other people live among our own communities. It’s easy to say you can live on $4 a day, but truly living it out is a different story. 

Many times I take for granted that I can buy food whenever I’m hungry from a fairly large array of choices. I often joke that I’m a “broke college student”, but am I truly “broke”? Against poverty rates in my community, I’m not.


I found that if I took this challenge for a longer amount of time, I could have planned for more meals or more people would be easier by buying in bulk. But I would still have to take into consideration expiration dates, healthy foods, prices, and satisfaction– all things I don’t spend too much time thinking about. I’m a coupon clipper, yes, but I spent much longer in the store matching prices, finding coupons, shopping at cheaper grocery stores, and trying harder to create a well-rounded meal.

Throughout the four days, I felt hungry, fatigued, and unsatisfied. This challenged gave me empathy for those who don’t have a choice and have to live this lifestyle.

This challenge definitely beat me today

Posted by Irina

I heard about this SNAP challenge in one of my public health courses. When hearing about the challenge I thought it would be a relatively easy task. I
thought this until I woke up yesterday morning and realized my $4/day budget would not get me be able to get me Starbucks. I had to think ahead about how I was going to buy something to eat that would sustain me all day for such a low budget. (I’ve never had to think about food in such a way) I resorted to getting whole wheat pasta and red sauce at Safeway.

I am used to preparing my pasta with things such as broccoli and chicken but I couldn’t afford that luxury this time. I made 2 servings, one for a late breakfast and one for dinner and was still hungry by the end of the night, and had to resort to drinking a lot of water. I never realized how much of a luxury it was to set your own budget. This challenge definitely beat me today.

Everyone should participate in this challenge, it makes you appreciate things you may not have before.


Second Day of SNAP Challenge: I’m finding it really difficult to keep away from the chocolate/ junk food aisle

Posted by Natalie Napier

For the second day on the SNAP challenge I bought eggs for 1.49, a box of Safeway brand pasta for a dollar, a jar of tomato paste for 80 cents and an
avocado for 77 cents using coupons. I used my Safeway discount card giving me a total of $3.92. However, I’m finding it really difficult to keep away from the chocolate/ junk food aisle.

“It is getting harder each day to stay away from the chocolate aisle.”


I decided to make spaghetti so it’ll last me all four days.

Posted by Laura Gallardo

Today was the first day I completed the SNAP challenge, we can say food was the only thing I was thinking about. “Should I make one big meal and space it
out throughout the four days, or should I try to spend $4 daily?” I decided to make spaghetti so it’ll last me all four days. I bought the ingredients and the total was a couple cents over $16.

For breakfast I had oatmeal, lunch was peanut butter and an apple, and for dinner I had spaghetti.


These first two days have been TOUGH to say the least!

Posted by Monica Luna

These first two days have been TOUGH to say the least! Yesterday I was sitting in class, anxiously awaiting the end of it, thinking about how hungry I was when I realized that I only had one dollar worth of food left for the day. I had made the poor decision of eating an organic pre-packaged granola bar in the morning which ate up over a third of my daily budget. Needless to say it was a disappointing evening!

Today I planned out a little better and was able to make better decisions about my food. As I wandered around the grocery store trying to figure out what was going to be the best bang for my buck, I realized that I was almost completed confined to the cereals and grains aisle (NOT my favorite place). I have been on a fairly strict ”Paleo” diet for the last several months. Its difficult and not always fun, but the improvement I saw in my body and energy levels makes it well worth it. The paleo diet is rather restrictive; no grains, no dairy, no legumes, and absolutely nothing processed. The diet mainly consists of meat, fruit, vegetables, and fats from nuts or oils. I am a strong believer in this diet and its benefits for the human body, but it was literally impossible for me to stay on this diet while doing this challenge. Right now, I am craving something fresh and crisp, like a salad, with a large serving of meat, but as I looked at those items, just one of those meals would eat up at least 8 of my 16 dollars for this week. bummer :(

Its quite eye-opening as to the options that people who live on this type of food budget have. Its honestly pretty disturbing to know that even if these people truly wanted to feed their families a nutritious and plant-based diet, as recommended by experts, they cannot.

Being healthy should not be something that is reserved for those who can afford certain types of food, it should be an innate right available to every human being.


I went back to the store and bought a jar of peanut butter

Posted by Jacob Collins

Today was definitely an improvement from yesterday. I went back to the store and bought a jar of peanut butter, which is great because it’s cheap and calorically dense. Making sure I get enough protein is probably the biggest challenge, because I’ve noticed that carbs (such as rice) come much cheaper. I am definitely sacrificing the most nutritious options for the more cost-effective ones.

When living off such a small budget, I can completely see why someone would choose the cheaper, less healthy options.


If SNAP covered fast food, I know where most of my meals would probably be coming from.

Day 2: I did stretch everything out over the 4 days. But it still didn’t keep me from feeling hunger pangs.

Posted by Keely Sinclair

Day 2
I was okay until after dinner yesterday, and then I felt even more hungry. I drank a lot of water. Often times we think we’re hungry when we’re really only thirsty. It wasn’t until I was cooking my corn for the next few days that I realized that it was on my menu for dinner and I forgot to eat it. After I finished cooking it, I scarfed one ear down in 2.5 seconds.

I think the hardest part emotionally for me, is realizing there are children and elderly people who experience this on a daily basis. There is a real disconnect in society when it comes to food insecurity. I feel even worse for those that live in a food desert. No one should ever go to bed hungry. I don’t care who they are or where they come from.


Here is my list of food since the picture hid some of it. Everything I bought was on sale at Safeway except the bulk stuff which was on sale at the Food Co-op. They had a package of 8 hot dogs for .99 which was a super deal. I couldn’t afford the all beef hot dogs because they were “gourmet”. I rationed out everything per day and have a strict menu that I am following. I did stretch everything out over the 4 days. But it still didn’t keep me from feeling hunger pangs.

  • -Org Rolled Oats (bulk-1/2 lb) .65
  • -Org Black Beans (bulk-1/2 lb) .75
  • -Org Basmati (bulk-1/2 lb) .70
  • -Tuna (2 cans) – $2
  • -Baked beans $1.79
  • -GF Mac & Cheese $1.39
  • -Greek Yogurt $1.68
  • -Pudding .99
  • -Hot Dogs .99
  • -Org Grapes $1.55
  • -Corn on the cob 5/$1
  • -Org. Spinach $2.50
  • Total: $16.00