Can you eat on $4.50 per day?

48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.

The SNAP Challenge is an opportunity to experience what it’s like for these Americans. It’s a trend popularized by politicians, community activists and food pantries in which families with means choose to purchase food using what a family that size would receive in the United States federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  It means committing to eating all of your meals on a limited food budget comparable to that of a SNAP participant (about $1.50 per meal) for a determined length of time.

SNAP, commonly called food stamps, provides monthly benefits to supplement the food budgets of families in need, but in many cases these households still struggle to put food on the table. While it is impossible to fully understand the difficult decisions families with limited resources face each day, by sharing your experiences on this Campaign you can help raise awareness and put and end to hunger and food insecurity in Ithaca’s college and local communities.

For every $10 you raise, a food insecure individual will have the opportunity to participate in a Cooking Matters class, offered through Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, to learn to shop smarter, make healthier food choices, and cook delicious meals on a limited budget.
Support this great cause and challenge yourself to eat on a SNAP budget ($4.50 per day) for one week!

How to get started:

  1. Create a Champion page.
  2. Choose one week between October 24th and November 24th to take the Challenge.
  3. Create a meal plan and grocery list for the week based on a food budget of $4.50 per day per person in your household.
  4. Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week, in particular the difficult decisions you had to make about the variety and quality of food you ate.
  5. Invite friends, family members and co-workers to become Champions or donate to the cause. Consider cooking together to save money, share resources, exchange tips and enjoy your meals together.
  6. Share all of your experiences by posting Updates on your Champion page!

Questions to consider for your posts on each day of your Challenge: 

  1. How did your shopping cart look compared to a normal week? What choices did you have to make about the types of food you could afford, where you shopped, or the nutritional quality and variety of food?
  2. What have you cut out of your routine to stay on budget?
  3. How would this experience be different if your partner and/or children were also eating on a limited food budget?
  4. How has eating on a limited budget impacted your mood?  Your concentration? How has that impacted your interaction with family and co-workers?
  5. Are you worried about your groceries running out before the end of the Challenge? Do you feel you are eating a balanced diet?  What nutrition decisions did you have to make?
  6. We know that low-income Americans have to make choices between groceries, prescriptions, gas, car, utilities, and other household necessities. After living on a limited food budget this week, how has your perspective changed about the decisions families facing hunger must make?
  7. In November 2013, the government will cut SNAP benefits for all recipients.  These cuts will be $36 for a family of four – dropping the average benefit per person per meal to under $1.40.  How would this week have been difficult for you if you had even less money to spend on food? (Source:

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$1,581 raised
$12000 goal

Ithaca, NY
8 Champions
44 Contributions
Campaign Complete.