Monday, January 28, 2013
WALLA WALLA — Can you eat for just $4.50 a day?
That’s the question a group of local residents intend to try and answer next month.
Members of the Interfaith Coalition on Poverty, a local group concerned about homelessness, hunger and other issues, have decided to try to eat on that amount per day per person, for a week.
Coalition member Tim Meliah said the $4.50 figure is about the average amount 45 million low-income people get each day from the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the federal food stamp program. Coalition members will take the challenge from Feb. 18-24, he said.
Participants hope to use email to share tips and recipes during the experiment, Meliah said. “Their goal is a greater understanding of what struggling families in our community experience daily. And, perhaps, over the long-term, that understanding could lead to better programs to help low-income families,” he said.
About 8-10 coalition members have pledged to take the challenge, but the exact number of participants won’t be certain until the week of the challenge, Meliah said.
There are 33,317 households receiving SNAP benefits in the 12 eastern Washington counties which form U.S. Congressional District 5, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average median income of those households was $16,825 in 2009 inflation-adjusted dollars.
Washington is one of 24 states which had SNAP participation rates that were significantly higher than the national rate. the USDA reported.
According to the Food Research and Action Center, the food stamp challenge first captured public attention in 2006 when FRAC allies in Philadelphia hosted one, followed by groups in Wichita, Kan. The challenge took the national stage in 2007 when four members of Congress — Reps. James McGovern, D-Mass., Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio — pledged to live for week on an average food stamp budget and blogged about their experiences.