Food and justice: Taking up the SNAP Challenge

Food and justice: Taking up the SNAP Challenge
Photo by Cassandra West

Food isn’t exactly the topic you’d expect to read about here. But more than you may think, it fits in with everything we cover at The Chicago Reporter. It’s an economic, it’s a justice and it’s certainly a social issue—all which we doggedly examine here.

This week, food is much on your minds as we take on what’s known as the SNAP Challenge. As the U.S. Congress debates billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–formerly called food stamps–many around the nation are forgoing their usual meals and trying to get by on a $5-day food allowance. That’s the amount allotted to the benefit recipients.

Members of Congress, governors, state officials, journalists and other community leaders have taken the Challenge to experience firsthand what it is like to try to make ends meet on the average food stamp benefit.

According to a Gallup poll, 20 percent of U.S. adults could not afford to feed themselves or their families at some point during the past year.

Furthermore, the government’s annual “Food Security” report found that 14.5 percent of American households, or 17.6 million families, “had difficulty at some time” in getting enough to eat during 2012. They either ran out of food, didn’t have money to buy enough food, skipped meals or lost weight for lack of food. In Cook County, almost 900,000 people were unsure where their next meal will come from in 2011, a newly released data by Feeding America, a Chicago-based nonproft, show.

Starting Monday, Laura Washington, the Reporter’s interim publisher, will take on the challenge and write about her experiences. We’ll also have other stories, multimedia features and social media updates intended to engage and enlighten you on food in America—a topic, a necessity that everyone knows something about but maybe not as much as we should.

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