Tim Foolery

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#SNAP Challenge Questions Answered

My #SNAPChallenge posts yesterday garnered a few questions from readers, which I will answer here:

Q1. So, how are you doing the math? Multi serving items only a week at a time? Can the cost be spread out over multiple weeks? (Costco peanut butter might blow through two days total budget but could last for months). [David]

A1. Good questions, David.  Since I will be doing this one week a month this year, I will use items purchased during the SNAP Challenge in January, later on as well – but only if they were purchased for the SNAP Challenge. For example, if I purchase a small container of peanut butter in January and still have some left in February I will use it.  I won’t overspend for the week, either — just because it may last longer than the week, doesn’t mean I have more money to spend.  SNAP participants would get $35 for the week and they can’t spend $50 just because they will use it for several weeks.  I won’t be doing Costco, as I don’t have a membership and I would expect most SNAP families wouldn’t have one either.

Q2. It would be interesting too to compare the nutritional value for the weeks on SNAP vs. off. Or even just a calorie comparison. And then how that affects you…Mood, etc…. [David]

A2. Absolutely. In my blog posts I will be talking about both my physical experience (starving, stomach growling, weight adjustments) as well as the mental/emotional effects.  I don’t usually count calories in my normal life, but I think it goes without saying that the calorie vs. nutrient balance is off when you are restricting your spend.  My goal is to keep healthy options in my diet as much as possible.

Q3. What will you do with the “savings”? Donate? [Anne]

A3. Great question!  Although I am doing this as a “walk a mile in their shoes challenge”, there will be personal savings.  I think it only makes sense to donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  I will donate the money that I would traditionally spend on lunch in a given week (about $50) to them.  I highly encourage all my readers to donate money or non-perishable food to their local food bank.

Q4. I would be interested to see how far $5 got you in Chicago vs. $5 in smaller towns (ie more diversity in Chicago, but cheaper farm fresh elsewhere). [Lisa]

A4. Agreed. I am hoping it is a wash. The diversity and ethnic markets may make it a bit easier, but the transportation/import/rent costs may artificially increase prices.  Stay tuned.

Q5. You want me to believe that you aren’t going to eat out with friends or host dinner at your house? Doesn’t seem sustainable considering your normal life. [Jeff]

A5. Since this is just going to be one week a month, I think this is doable. If I were to do an entire month, I agree that I would really struggle.  I usually eat out for lunch every day and eat out for dinner about 3 times a week.  I am scheduled to have people over for dinner one night during my January challenge.  I am definitely interested in suggestions on how to handle this dinner challenge.  Thoughts?

Stay tuned for recipes and shopping updates.  The official program will start on Wednesday (January 2, 2013).  If any of you are interested in joining me for this week long adventure, I would love to hear about it.  If not, next time you are at the grocery store, just take a few minutes to think of what you are choosing and the cost.

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