Arkansans are being asked to spend the week of September 26-30 feeding themselves on no more than $4 dollars per day to better understand food insecurity in the state.
What used to be known as food stamps is now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. In Arkansas, qualified low-income individuals receive an average of $3.74 per day from SNAP to help them afford groceries.
In order to highlight the difficulties this poses the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is asking people to accept the challenge of feeding themselves on $4 per day for a week. Spokeswoman Nancy Conely, said the annual event coincides with September’s national designation as “Hunger Action Month”.
“This is a good way to help us raise awareness in Arkansas because there are a little over 500,000 people in Arkansas that receive food assistance. Many of them are children. Many of them are seniors.” Conely said, “About 41% of the people in Arkansas that are receiving food benefits are actually working people.”
The organization wants to dispel what they describe as common myths about SNAP, like the belief that it is a welfare program. Conely also hopes the SNAP Challenge will lead to increased empathy for the food insecure, which will then inspire more action.
“What we would like for people to do is become advocates for the food assistance network,” said Conely, who suggested people could “contact their senator or representative and encourage them to protect SNAP benefits and not further reduce them.”
The prevalence of food insecurity has dropped slightly in recent years, but, according to USDA statistics, Arkansas’s rate of 19.2% continues to be well above the national average. Registration for SNAP challenge can be found here.