Can you eat on just $4.50 a day? Make the SNAP Challenge pledge now, then invite your friends!

What is the SNAP Challenge?

The SNAP Challenge encourages participants to get a sense of what life is like for millions of low-income Americans facing hunger. By accepting the SNAP Challenge, you’ll commit to eating all of your meals from a limited food budget comparable to that of a SNAP participant - $1.50 per meal.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly 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 comprehend the difficult decisions low-income families face, sharing your experience with the SNAP Challenge will help raise awareness about the issue of hunger in America.

I’ve Accepted the Challenge, Now What?

  1. Choose the duration of your SNAP Challenge. For Hunger Action Month, we are encouraging everyone to take the SNAP Challenge the week of September 15-21, so we can combine our voices on social media for maximum awareness.  However, any day or week (or longer!) is great for the SNAP Challenge.
  2. Your food budget for the week or day of your Challenge will be based on the average SNAP benefit, which is $4.50 per person per day– for ALL your food and beverages. You can use coupons while taking the Challenge but should not shop at membership clubs.
  3. Using your Challenge budget, decide on groceries to purchase and how much to put aside for food incidentals. Be aware of ALL food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week/day.
  4. During the Challenge, do not eat food that you purchased prior to starting the challenge.
  5. Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or while at work.
  6. Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week, in particular the choices you made between the variety and quality of food you ate.
  7. Invite others to join you, including your co-workers, family members, and elected officials.
  8. Share your SNAP Challenge through social media and by blogging about your experience.

How Do I Share My SNAP Challenge Experience?

Maximize your impact by talking about your SNAP Challenge on social media. Below you will find seven prompts, one for each day of a week-long SNAP Challenge experience. Use these as a starting point for a blog post, Facebook post or tweet; tag @FeedingAmerica and use hashtag #SNAPChallenge so we’ll see it!




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?


What have you cut out of your routine to stay on budget (e.g. COFFEE)?


How would this experience be different if your spouse and children were also eating off a limited food budget for the week?


How has eating on a limited budget impacted your mood? Your concentration? How has that impacted your interaction with family and coworkers?


Are you worried about your groceries running out before the end of the Challenge? Do you feel you are you eating a healthy, balanced diet? What nutrition decisions did you have to make?


We know that low-income Americans have to make choices between groceries, prescriptions, gas for the 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? 


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 different for you if you had even less money to spend on food?

Meet Dawn, who used SNAP benefits to keep food on the table for her family.

SNAP Facts

  • Over 47 million low-income Americans participate in SNAP to help purchase food.
  • 76 percent of SNAP households include a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83 percent of all SNAP benefits.
  • 83 percent of SNAP households have incomes at or below 100 percent of the poverty guideline ($19,530 for a family of 3 in 2013). These households receive 91 percent of all SNAP benefits.
  • Program eligibility is limited to households with gross income of no more than 130 percent of the federal poverty level and no more than $2000 in assets. Participants must also meet work and citizenship requirements.
  • The average SNAP household has about 2 people, with a gross monthly income of $744 and countable assets of just $331.
  • The average monthly SNAP benefit per person was $133.41 in FY2012, or less than $1.50 per person per meal.
  • 90 percent of SNAP benefits are redeemed by day 21 of the benefit period – meaning most SNAP benefits are not enough to last recipients all month.
  •  All SNAP participants will see a drop in their benefits on November 1, 2013 – the average decrease will be $36 for a  family of four. Over the entire year, the average family of four will have $396 less to spend on food.